The striking beauty of this page, with the swooping curves and loops of the letters in white ink enhanced with blue dots against rich brown paper, entrances the eye to the extent that the content, which is difficult to decipher, seems irrelevant. The somewhat enlarged first line acknowledges benefits and kindnesses received from someone, while the next three lines contain expressions of gratitude and good wishes. The last line consists of the signature and date. The styles of calligraphy used in chancelleries developed differently from those used in Qur'ans or literary texts and culminated in the Ottoman divani script (from diwan, the "secretariat" or "assembly of officials"). Calligraphers excelling in this script were members of an elite cadre within the Ottoman bureaucracy.
Signature: The signature reads: 'Written by (harraruha) the poor (faqir) miserable (haqir) Khawaja (...name illegible); may God keep him alive until the day of resurrection, in the year 1075 of the migration of the Prophet of glory and honor.' Only parts could be deciphered, but the general tenor is clear (AM Schimmel, July 1986)
Inscription: The text in divani script is translated as: "Written by the poor miserable Khawaja [...name illegible]; may God keep him alive until the day of resurrection, in the year 1075 of the migration of the Prophet of glory and honor."
sale, Sotheby's, London, May 22–23, 1986, no. 207, to Ahuan; Ahuan Islamic Art, London, 1986; sold to MMA]
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Nature of Islamic Ornament Part I: Calligraphy," February 26, 1998–June 28, 1998, no catalogue.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Balcony Calligraphy Exhibition," June 1, 2009–October 26, 2009, no catalogue.
"May 22–23, 1986." In Fine Oriental Manuscripts and Miniatures. London: Sotheby's, London, 1986. no. 207, p. 98, ill. (b/w).
Welch, Stuart Carey. "Islamic Art; A Safavid Pierced Steel Plaque." Recent Acquisitions: A Selection, 1986–1987; The Metropolitan Museum of Art vol. 44 (1986–1987). p. 9, ill. (color).