Book of Prayers, Surat al-Yasin and Surat al-Fath

Calligrapher: Ahmad Nairizi (active 1682–1739)

Illuminator: (attributed to) Muhammad Hadi (d. ca. 1771)

Object Name: Non-illustrated manuscript

Date: dated A.H. 1132/A.D. 1719–20

Geography: Made in Iran, probably Isfahan

Culture: Islamic

Medium: Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
Binding: lacquer

Dimensions: H. 9 3/4 in. (24.7 cm)
W. 6 1/8 in. (15.6 cm)

Classification: Codices

Credit Line: Purchase, Friends of Islamic Art Gifts, 2003

Accession Number: 2003.239


This illuminated manuscript is a book of prayers containing the Sura Yasin and Surat al-Fath copied by the celebrated calligrapher Ahmad Nairizi. The illuminations are attributed to Muhammad Hadi, who created the lavish borders in the famous Saint Petersburg Album in that city's Academy of Sciences. The manuscript is signed twice, once in a colophon and once on the lacquer binding. It has eighty-one leaves, with fourteen lines of text on each page, written horizontally and diagonally in fine naskhi script in black ink on a wide array of rich colors. Some pages contain interlinear Persian translations in red or purple nasta’liq, while others have interlinear illumination in gold. It contains four finely illuminated double pages with central medallions. The original lacquer binding is decorated with gold-stemmed flowers on a dark brown ground with calligraphic borders in naskhi signed by Ahmad Nairizi and dated A.H. 1132/A.D. 1719–20.
Copied in Isfahan, the manuscript reflects the collaboration of two prominent late Safavid-period masters. Ahmad Nairizi is considered the uncontested master of the revival of naskhi in Iran and was responsible for popularizing it at the end of the seventeenth century. He served at the court of the last Safavid ruler, Shah Sultan Husayn (r. 1694–1722). His calligraphy was a model for generations of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Iranian calligraphers.