Folio of calligraphy by Kamal al-Din Ikhtiyar al-Munshi al-Sultani (d. 974)

Panel of calligraphy; text: Persian in white, gold, blue and black ta’liq script; signed by Kamal al-Din Ikhtiyar al- munshi al-sultani and dated 1552 (959 A.H.); triangular illuminated corner panels; one of a group of three folios.
Border: The calligraphic panel is set in gold, black and red rulings mounted on blue gold-sprinkled paperboard.

Maker(s)
Artist: Kamal al-Din Ikhtiyar (died 974 A.H.)
Historical period(s)
Safavid period, August-September 1552 (Ramadan 959 A.H.)
Medium
Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Dimensions
H x W: 22.8 x 13.4 cm (9 x 5 1/4 in)
Geography
Afghanistan, Herat
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1929.64
On View Location
Freer Gallery 04: Engaging the Senses: Art in the Islamic World
Classification(s)
Manuscript
Type

Manuscript folio

Keywords
Afghanistan, illumination, Safavid period (1501 - 1722), ta'liq script
Provenance

To 1929
Kirkor Minassian, New York to 1929 [1]

From 1929
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Kirkor Minassian, New York on April 5, 1929 [2]

Notes:

[1] Object file, undated folder sheet note.

[2] See note 1. Also see Freer Gallery of Art Purchase List file, Collections Management Office.

Previous Owner(s)

Kirkor Minassian 1874-1944

Description

Panel of calligraphy; text: Persian in white, gold, blue and black ta'liq script; signed by Kamal al-Din Ikhtiyar al- munshi al-sultani and dated 1552 (959 A.H.); triangular illuminated corner panels; one of a group of three folios.
Border: The calligraphic panel is set in gold, black and red rulings mounted on blue gold-sprinkled paperboard.

Inscription(s)

The lower right corner piece: “in the month of Ramadan, year [A.H.] 959, [A.D.1552]."
Right side: "written by the poor miserable slave Ikhtiyar, the royal scribe.”

Label

This folio is written in an elaborate cursive style, generally known as shikasta ("broken" in Persian). The script form flourished in sixteenth-century Iran and is characterized by the looping connections of certain letters and by the close, staggered placement of words. The structure of the line tends to be quite dense and is accentuated by the curved alignment of the verses. The use of white, red, yellow, and blue in addition to the traditional black ink heightens the script's complexity.


The calligrapher of this remarkable folio is Kamal al-Din, also known as Vahid al-Ayn, or the "one-eyed." A native of Herat, Kamal al-Din lived for some time in the holy city of Qum and subsequently came to the Safavid capital Tabriz, where he worked at the court of Shah Tahmasb (reigned 1524-76). The king held Kamal al-Din in high regard and offered him many gifts, but the artist accepted none, preferring a simple and humble life. Written in heavily arabicized Persian, this text goes to elaborate design lengths to extol the qualities of a high-ranking individual and bestow good wishes upon him.

Published References
  • Fu Shen, Glenn D. Lowry, Ann Yonemura, Thomas Lawton. From Concept to Context: Approaches to Asian and Islamic Calligraphy. Exh. cat. Washington. cat. 50, pp. 140-141.
Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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