Collections: Arts of the Islamic World: Sample of Calligraphy in Persian Nasta'liq Script

  • 1st Floor
    Arts of Africa, Steinberg Family Sculpture Garden
  • 2nd Floor
    Arts of Asia and the Islamic World
  • 3rd Floor
    Egyptian Art, European Paintings
  • 4th Floor
    Contemporary Art, Decorative Arts, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art
  • 5th Floor
    Luce Center for American Art

Hiroshige's One Hundred Famous Views of Edo

Hiroshige's 118 woodblock landscape and genre scenes of mid-nineteenth-century Tokyo, is one of the greatest achievements of Japanese art.

    On View: Mask (Lukwakongo)

    Miniature wooden masks constitute some of the most important insignia of the second-highest grade of Bwami. Generally these miniature masks,...


    Want to add this object to a set? Please join the Posse, or log in.


    X629.6_IMLS_PS3.jpg x629.6_PS1.jpg X629.6_bw_IMLS.jpg

    Sample of Calligraphy in Persian Nasta'liq Script

    In the first centuries after the advent of Islam, Arabic calligraphy—alluding to the written word of God—was one of the main characteristics distinguishing the art of Islam from that of the preceding Byzantines and Sasanians in the Near East. In sixteenth-century Iran, calligraphy was a highly revered art form, visible in the public sphere in architectural inscriptions and, in more private and exclusive circles, collected by the court and wealthy elite to be assembled and enjoyed in albums. Samples such as the one shown here were often embellished with stylized floral and leaf patterns rendered in colorful pigments and gilding, remounted into beautifully ornamented and gilded margin papers, and bound together in albums and anthologies of poetry.

    Calligraphy lessons comprised one of the many branches of a ruler's education, and some princes exhibited great talent for the art form. The signature following the skillfully executed verses on this page, however, suggests that a court calligrapher may have been responsible for this example. The lower left triangle reads, "faq?r Mir cAli [the poor Mir 'Ali]," which invites a possible attribution to the celebrated calligrapher Mir 'Ali Haravi (died 1544–45), active at the court in Herat until 1528, when he was captured and moved to Bukhara by the Uzbeks. One of the greatest masters of calligraphy of his time, Mir 'Ali was known to copy numerous manuscripts and poetic verses, some of which he even composed.

    The verses read: 

    O hear, lamenting one's beloved and moaning with grief are a pleasure,

    A tormented soul and bloodshot eyes [from weeping] are a pleasure.

    If you have indulged in everything but the lamentation of your beloved,

    All of that would amount to nothing—the anguish is what brings pleasure.

    • Calligrapher: Ali Haravi
    • Medium: Ink, opaque watercolors, and gold on paper
    • Dates: 16th century
    • Period: Safavid
    • Dimensions: 8 13/16 x 5 1/4 in. (22.4 x 13.3 cm)  (show scale)
    • Signature: Mir 'Ali [al-Husaini al-Haravi]
    • Collections:Arts of the Islamic World
    • Museum Location: This item is not on view
    • Accession Number: X629.6
    • Credit Line: Brooklyn Museum Collection
    • Rights Statement: No known copyright restrictions
    • Caption: Ali Haravi. Sample of Calligraphy in Persian Nasta'liq Script, 16th century. Ink, opaque watercolors, and gold on paper, 8 13/16 x 5 1/4 in. (22.4 x 13.3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Museum Collection, X629.6
    • Image: overall, X629.6_IMLS_PS3.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
    • Record Completeness: Good (68%)
    advanced 110,671 records currently online.

    Separate each tag with a space: painting portrait.

    Or join words together in one tag by using double quotes: "Brooklyn Museum."

    Please review the comment guidelines before posting.

    Before you comment...

    We get a lot of comments, so before you post yours, check to see if your issue is addressed by one of the questions below. Click on a question to see our answer:

    Why are some objects not on view?

    The Museum’s permanent collections are very large and only a fraction of these can be on exhibition at any given time. Sometimes works are lent to other museums for special exhibitions; sometimes they are in the conservation laboratory for study or maintenance. Certain types of objects, such as watercolors, textiles, and photographs, are sensitive to light and begin to fade if they are exposed for too long, so their exhibition time is limited. Finally, as large as the Museum is, there is not enough room to display everything in the collections. In order to present our best works, collections are rotated periodically.

    How do I find out how much an object in the Brooklyn Museum collections is worth?

    The Museum does not disclose the monetary values of objects in its collections.

    Can you tell me the value of an artwork that I own?

    The Museum does not provide monetary appraisals. To determine the value of an object or to find an appraiser, you may contact the Art Dealers Association of America or the American Society of Appraisers.

    I own a similar object. Can you tell me more about it?

    Please submit via e-mail a photograph of the object you own and as much information about it as you can, and we will provide any additional information we are able to find. Please note that research in our files is a lengthy process, and you may not have a response for some time.

    How would I go about lending or gifting a work to the Museum or seeing if the Museum is interested in purchasing a work that I own?

    Please submit via e-mail a photograph of the object you would like us to consider, as well as all of the information you have about it, and your offer will be forwarded to the appropriate curator. The Brooklyn Museum collections are very rich, and we have many works that are not currently on exhibition; because of this, and because storage space is limited, we are very selective about adding works. However, the collection has become what it is today through the generosity of the public, and we continue to be grateful for this generosity, which can still lead to exciting new acquisitions.

    How can I get a reproduction of a work in your collection?

    Please see the Museum’s information on Image Services.

    How can I show my work to someone at the Museum or be considered for an exhibition?

    Please see the Museum’s Artist Submission Guidelines.

    Why do many objects not have photographs and/or complete descriptions?

    The Museum's collection is very large, and we are constantly in the process of adding photographs and descriptions to works that do not currently have them, or replacing photographs that have deteriorated beyond use and descriptions that are minimal or out of date. This is a long and expensive process that takes time.

    How can I find a conservator or get advice on how to treat my artwork?

    Please visit the American Institute for Conservation, which has a feature on how to find a conservator.

    I have a comment or question which is not included in this list.

    Join the posse or log in to work with our collections. Your tags, comments and favorites will display with your attribution.