India (Deccan or Kashmir)
Ink, colors, and gold on paper
Purchase, Richard S. Perkins Gift, 1986 (1986.109.2)
This leaf of fine nastacliq calligraphy was conceived as an artistic endeavor, in which the writing is integrated with the ornamental background. The decorative technique of marbleizing paper spread from Iran to Turkey and to India, particularly the Deccan. Nastacliq calligraphy, employed in Iran, had also been favored in India since the late sixteenth century. Here, the scribe was very conscious of the rhythms and balances of the horizontal and vertical letters, written diagonally. The strong black ink against the gentle swirls of the smoky blue and pale beige of the marbleized design gives the impression that the letters are floating, adding a mystical dimension to the page. The lines read:
Call cAli who manifests wonderful things,
You will find him a help for you in difficulties.
Every grief and sorrow will be cleared away by your sacred blessing,
Oh cAli, Oh cAli, Oh cAli
Written by the poor sinner Muhammad Salih, the scribe,
may his sins be forgiven and his faults be covered.