recto: "Portrait of Prince Danyal", Folio from the Shah Jahan Album

Artist: Painting by Manohar (active ca. 1582–1624)

Calligrapher: Sultan 'Ali al-Mashhadi (active late 15th–early 16th century)

Object Name: Album leaf

Date: recto: late 16th century; verso: ca. 1500

Geography: Attributed to India

Medium: Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper

Dimensions: H. 15 5/16 in. (38.9 cm)
W. 10 1/4 in. (26 cm)

Classification: Miscellaneous

Credit Line: Purchase, Rogers Fund and The Kevorkian Foundation Gift, 1955

Accession Number:


verso: This richly illuminated folio of calligraphy features the work of the preeminent Timurid calligrapher, Sultan 'Ali Mashhadi. Patronized by the Timurid court, Mashhadi was a poet and a recognized master of the nasta'liq script. In the following poem, composed by Khwaja Salman al-Savuji, he writes:

Coil up in your own tress
And then ask how I am,
How those are whom the snare
Of your affliction broke:
You want to know how all
Those broken lovers fare–
Then ask me first, for I
Am the most broken one.

This love poem belongs to a larger tradition of mystical poetry in which the lover longs for the unattainable object of his affections. His lover's tresses ensnare him and, hopelessly caught, the poet mourns his plight.