Folio from the Late Shah Jahan Album
Text blocks in Persian manuscripts typically present verses displayed in two parallel columns, with the colophon appearing at the very end of the volume. The placement of Mir Ali’s signature on the penultimate line suggests this page of poetry was initially conceived as a stand-alone folio. The verses were written by Amir Shahi, a minor Persian poet who was active during the Timurid period and died in 1453. His poems frequently appear among works selected for display in Mughal albums, and he seems to have been one of Mir Ali Haravi’s favorite poets.
Some of Shahi’s verses that Mir Ali copied in large-format qit‘as were included in an album assembled for the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (reigned 1628–58) in India. All but one of the signed calligraphies in that album are said to have been done by Mir Ali Haravi. Their authenticity remains uncertain, however, since Mir Ali authorized his most brilliant students to sign their pieces with his name. Imitation (naql) was an elemental part of a calligrapher’s education. One of a student’s main goals was to attain the ability to reproduce the master’s style in an indistinguishable way.