This calligraphic fragment belongs to a series of 22 inshaʼ (literary compositions or letters) written by calligraphers named Mir Kalan, Khan Zaman (son of Khan Khanan), Qaʼim Khan, Lutfallah Khan, and Mahabat Khan. Judging from the script (Indian nastaʻliq), a seal impression bearing the date 1113 AH (1701−2), 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. The calligraphies are typically written in a hasty nastaʻliq 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 raqamahu (written by) or khatt-i (the handwriting of). The recto of this particular fragment bears the attribution “khatt-i Khan Zaman” to Khan Zaman at the top. In the lower horizontal frame appears a fragment of a seal impression in which the following names can be deciphered: Muhammad bin... Shah Ghazi...Khan Fadavi. The composition on the white paper consists of a letter addressed to the writer's baradar-i mihraban-i man (dear friend or brother), in which he acknowledges receipt of the latter’s letter. The writer then states that he and his family are well, but that he is disappointed that his friend cannot join them. For this reason, he requests that his friend/brother send a vakil (agent) in his stead. The verso of this piece has suffered heavy water damage. At the top, however, one can still read the attribution to Khan Zaman. In the lower horizontal, there is a squiggle design and a pasted white piece of paper. The composition in the center resembles the letter on the fragment’s recto. The author addresses his dear friend/brother to tell him that he misses him and wishes to see him again. Since he cannot come, the writer requests that he get a vakalat (proxy or deputy) to carry out an action that is not specified here.
Calligrapher: Zaman, Khan
Place: Central and South Asia; India
Institution: Library of Congress
Physical description: 18.6 x 29.8 centimeters