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About this Item


  • Insha'


  • Mir Kalan

Created / Published

  • 18th century


  • -  Calligraphy, Arabic
  • -  Calligraphy, Persian
  • -  Manuscripts, Persian--Washington (D.C.)
  • -  India
  • -  Calligraphy, Indian
  • -  Arabic script calligraphy
  • -  Illuminated Islamic manuscripts
  • -  Indian nasta'liq
  • -  Islamic calligraphy


  • -  A Persian literary compositions Insha', written by renowned Indian painter: Mir Kalan, in Lucknow, in the Indian Nasta'liq script.
  • -  Dimensions of Written Surface: Recto: 11 (w) x 16.5 (h) cm. Dimensions of Written Surface: Verso: 11.1 (w) x 16.1 (h) cm
  • -  The calligraphies are typically written a hasty nasta'liq on white paper, framed in blue, and pasted to a pink or salmon cardboard. They stand out for being in rather poor condition, in many cases badly damaged by worm holes and/or water stains. Some bear squiggle-like marks in the margins, while others include seal impressions that were cut out and pasted onto the cardboards. In most cases, an attribution to a calligrapher is written at the top, preceded by the expression "written by" (raqamahu) or "the handwriting of" (khatt-i...).
  • -  The recto of this particular calligraphic fragment is attributed to Mir Kalan, as noted by the inscription "raqamahu Mir Kalan" at the top of the fragment. The text itself is composed of both poetry (nazm) and prose (naskh), a combination typical of the art of composition, or insha'. The author begins with two bayts (verses) of poetry, then complains about the hardships of separation, invokes the passion (shawq and ishtiyaq) of friendship, and ends his letter (maktub) by stating that he offers it as a flower to his loved one.
  • -  This calligraphic fragment's verso is also attributed to Mir Kalan, as noted by the attribution "raqamahu Mir Kalan" at the top of the fragment. It also contains a seal impression in the lower center bearing the name Sayyid 'Ali Taqi Khan. In the lower left corner appears a squiggle design as well. The text itself begins with a praise of God ("He is the Glorified," or huwa al-'aziz) and a poetical excerpt on the pain of being separated from a friend. Then follows the contents of this deeply spiritual ('irfani) letter: the author insists to have not forgotten his friend, that his love is -- like an inscription on a stone (sang) -- ineffaceable. He assures him that he sees him everywhere he looks (even in the walls) and that he is engaged in continuous remembrance (dhikr) of him. Finally, he apologizes for not being able to visit him due to weakness and fatigue, but promises that, as soon as he gets well, he will run to him with passion (shawq).
  • -  This calligraphic fragment belongs to a series of twenty-two literary compositions or letters (insha') written by the calligraphers named Mir Kalan, Khan Zaman (son of Khan Khanan), Qa'im Khan, Lutfallah Khan, and Mahabat Khan (1-84-154.49, 1-84-154.53-54, 1-87-154.146a-f, and 1-88-154.30). Judging from the script (Indian nasta'liq), a seal impression bearing the date 1113/1701-2 (1-87-154.146a R), and a letter mentioning the city of Janpur in India, it appears that these writings were executed in India during the 18th-century. Furthermore, if one were to identify the calligrapher Mir Kalan as the renowned painter active during the mid-18th century in Lucknow, then this identification would add further support to identifying this calligraphic series in the Library of Congress' collection as a corpus of materials produced by several writers active in 18th-century India.
  • -  Script: Indian nasta'liq
  • -  1-84-154.49


  • 1 volume ; 18.7 (w) x 29.7 (h) cm


  • Library of Congress African and Middle Eastern Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Digital Id

Library of Congress Control Number

  • 2019714570

Online Format

  • pdf
  • image

Additional Metadata Formats

IIIF Presentation Manifest

Rights & Access

The contents of the Library of Congress Selections of Arabic, Persian, and Ottoman Calligraphy are in the public domain or have no known copyright restrictions and are free to use and reuse.

Credit Line: Library of Congress, African and Middle East Division, Near East Section Persian Manuscript Collection

Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Mir Kalan. Insha'. 18th Century. Manuscript/Mixed Material.

APA citation style:

Mir Kalan. Insha'. 18th Century. [Manuscript/Mixed Material] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Mir Kalan. Insha'. 18th Century. Manuscript/Mixed Material. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.