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A Friend's Letter

World Digital Library,


This calligraphic fragment consists of a letter written by a man to his friend. At the top, the letter is initiated by four bayts (verses) from a ghazal (lyrical poem) that advises men to be good and not to engage in siyah kar (evil deeds). These lines are written in smaller script on the diagonal and separated into four columns. The letter then proceeds horizontally. The correspondent apologizes for not having written in a long time. In the middle of his letter, he also includes verses from Firdawsi’s Shāhnāmah that have an eschatological character. They promote the fear of God and the Day of Judgment. The text is written in small black shikastah-nastaʻliq script on a piece of paper painted in light brown in such a manner that it looks like papyrus, bark, or bamboo. The text panel is pasted directly onto a purple sheet of paper backed by cardboard. Although the letter is neither signed nor dated, it appears to have executed in Persia (Iran) during the 17th−18th centuries.
Place: Central and South Asia; Iran, Islamic Republic of
Institution: Library of Congress
Physical description: 12.8 x 20.1 centimeters