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 Calligraphy folio from the Gulshan Album

Calligraphy folio from the Gulshan Album

These calligraphic fragments in different scales of nasta‘liq script were seemingly executed by Mir Ali Haravi. The quatrain was written by the celebrated fourteenth-century poet Hafiz, while the verses in small script to the side and bottom are excerpted from a collection of poetry by Amir Shahi. Pieces signed by the esteemed calligrapher Mir Ali were integrated into a sumptuous album of illuminated folios for the Mughal emperor Jahangir, who reigned from 1605 to 1627. The marginal images of saints and Madonna with Child, based on European prints, date from this time and are not related to the text. Assembled in India, the so-called Gulshan Album is still regarded as one of the most famous Mughal albums ever produced.

The original qit‘a (fragment of poetry) may have been intended to flatter a royal patron. It reads:

O Emperor, may your holiday be happy and blessed.
May the desire of your soul always laugh like the lip of the goblet.
May the regal horseman of your fortune be astride the polo steed;
When you strike the heavens with your mallet, may it be humbled.

Calligraphy folio from the Gulshan Album
Signed by Mir Ali Haravi (d. ca. 1550)
Probably Uzbekistan, Bukhara, Shaybanid period, ca. 1540
Borders: India, Mughal period, ca. 1590–1600
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
Freer Gallery of Art F1956.12