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About this Item


  • Letter exercises


  • Mir 'Imad al-Hasani

Created / Published

  • early 17th century


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


  • -  Letter exercises, siyah mashq or calligraphic practice sheet written in Persian cursive nasta'liq script by Iranian calligrapher, Mir 'Imad al-Hasani (d. 1024/1615). Safavid era.
  • -  A number of other siyah mashq sheets are held in the Library of Congress. See in particular 1-84-154.44, 1-84-154.46, 1-85-154.88, 1-86-154.144, 1-87-154.45, and 1-87-154.142.
  • -  Dimensions of Written Surface: 17.6 (w) x 31.7 (h) cm
  • -  These kinds of sheets -- known as siyah mashq (literally, black practice) in Persian -- were entirely covered with writing as a means to practice calligraphy and conserve paper. As an established genre, practice sheets abided to certain rules of formal compositions, largely guided by rhythm and repetition (Safwat 1996, 32). In time, they became collectible items and thus were signed and dated. Many fragments such as this one were provided with a variety of decorative borders and pasted to sheets ornamented with plants or flowers painted in gold.
  • -  This calligraphic practice sheet includes a number of diagonal words and letters written in the common Persian cursive script nasta'liq. Letters are used in combinations, sometimes yielding fanciful agglutinates and other times real words, facing upwards and downwards on the folio. The script is executed in brown ink on a cream colored background, framed by a blue border and pasted onto a sheet decorated with interlacing vines and flowers.
  • -  This particular siyah mashq is signed in the corner by a famous Iranian master of nasta'liq script, Mir 'Imad al-Hasani (d. 1024/1615). He has signed his name "'Imad" four times in a playful gesture emulating the repetitive nature of the practice sheet itself. Like this fragment, a number of siyah mashq sheets executed at the turn of the 17th century by 'Imad al-Hasani were preserved and provided with illumination by Muhammad Hadi ca. 1160-1172/1747-1759 (Akimushkin 1996: 65, 70, 87, and 91). This particular siyah mashq thus shows how a master of calligraphy practiced his craft during the Safavid period in Persia (Iran).
  • -  Script: nasta'liq
  • -  1-84-154.43


  • 1 volume ; 28.2 (w) x 40.5 (h) cm


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

Digital Id

Library of Congress Control Number

  • 2019714598

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 'Imad Al-Hasani. Letter Exercises. Early 17th Century. Manuscript/Mixed Material.

APA citation style:

Mir 'Imad Al-Hasani. Letter Exercises. Early 17th Century. [Manuscript/Mixed Material] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Mir 'Imad Al-Hasani. Letter Exercises. Early 17th Century. Manuscript/Mixed Material. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.