Poetry and Prayer: Islamic Manuscripts from the Walters Art Museum

Poetry and Prayer

Islamic Manuscripts from the Walters Art Museum

Poetry Ritual Prayer Recitation Calligraphy Personal Piety Digital Books

W.579: Prayer Book

This illuminated codex contains a prayer (wird) entitled Miftāḥ al-najāḥ, attributed to ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib, the fourth caliph of Islam. The manuscript was executed by Shaykh Kamāl ibn ‘Abd al-Ḥaqq al-Sabzawārī in Astarabad (present-day Gorgan, Iran) in 941 AH / 1534 CE.








Folio 8b

Folio from an Islamic Manuscript

On this page the person responsible for writing and illuminating the manuscript provides his name, as well as the date and place where he finished his work. He identifies himself as Shaykh Kamāl ibn ‘Abd al-Ḥaqq al-Sabzawārī and states he completed the manuscript at Astarābād in 941AH / 1534 CE. Astarābād (present day Gorgan) is in Iran, northeast of Tehran and close to the Caspian Sea.

Folio 3a

Folio from an Islamic Manuscript

The striking beauty of this page is defined by the use of alternating black naskh and gold thuluth. The naskh panels are flanked by illuminated medallions with a gold tooled outline. The gold thuluth lines are set apart by outlines resembling clouds. Gold rosettes mark the verse endings. The stamp in the left margin is the personal seal of Wazir Ali Pasha who gave the book to an educational charity in A.H. 1130/A.D. 1717.

Folio 2b

Folio from an Islamic Manuscript

This manuscript opens with an illuminated ‘unvan (headpiece) containing the invocation, “in the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate,” written in tawqi‘ script. Fluid and curvilinear, tawqi‘ script is used for headings and rarely used for the main text. As seen here, while having inscribed the headpiece with tawqi‘, the scribe wrote the main text in alternating black naskh and gold thuluth. The naskh panels are framed by medallions with a gold tooled outline. The contours of the thuluth lines are decorated with blue tendrils over a ground of red hatched lines. Gold rosettes mark the verse endings. The stamp in the right margin is the personal seal of Wazir Ali Pasha who gave the book to an educational charity in A.H. 1130/A.D. 1717.