Folio: 50 watercolour miniatures on paper, c. 9 x 14 cm, pasted on coloured cardboard c. 31,5 x 20,5 cm within multiple gilt and penruled frames (min. soiling).
Bound in rare concertina (leporello) style, with leather covers on both sides (binding broken at 1 place). In black blindruled leather folder with flap. Very good, well-preserved condition.
Beautiful volume containing 41 delicate watercolour miniatures representing famous calligraphers, 5 miniatures presumably representing bearded sufis (1 in grisaille), 1 showing a seated prince (uncol.) and 3 miniatures of flowers (2 in grisaille). The series of calligraphers starts with Yāqūt al-Mustaʿsimī, who lived in Baghdad under the Abbasid dynasty in the 13th century, and goes up to calligraphers from the first half of the 19th century (the most recent date of death is that of Āqā Fatḥ-ʿAlī Šīrāzī: 1852-53). Nearly all calligraphers are shown kneeling, with one knee raised, on which they rest their paper; indeed the normal position of a scribe. One is writing on a desk, one is sitting on a low stool, another is busy sharpening his pen and calligrapher and poet Wiṣāl Šīrāzī is writing on his knee, but has a small table with inkpot and paper in front of him. Nearly all hold their reed pen in their hand and have a number of various writing implements next or in front of them, such as: inkwell, pen case, extra pens, extra paper, penknife, sometimes a hookah (two of them are actually smoking it). Others have in front of them a candle and teapot, some flowers or a bowl of fruit. They are wearing different kinds of turbans or the typical Qajar headdress: a black astrakhan "kulāh". All the miniatures bear numbers on verso, 1 to 50. As they are not in the original order, it shows that the manuscript has been rebound. The names of all the calligraphers are written below, all in the same hand in nastaʿlīq script, exc. one whose name is in šikasta script. Prov. Paul Manteau with a loose ink ms. paper note: "Je reconnais avoir reçu de Son Altesse Impériale Djellal-e-Daulet la somme de Soixante Tomans représentant le montant de mes appointements du mois de Châval [sic] année 1310 [Šawwāl 1st 1310 = April 18th 1893]. Téhéran le 11 avril 1893 Paul Manteau". "Djellal-e-Daulet" is Sulṭān Ḥusain Mīrzā Ǧalāl al-Daulat (b. before 1885, d.?), grandson of Nāṣir al-Dīn Šāh (r. 1848-1896). Paul Manteau might be French, or more probably, Belgian, as many Belgian officials were employed in Iran in a number of functions. However, this relationship between Iran and Belgium didn't properly begin before 1898, and, indeed, his name is not found in A. Destrée, Les fonctionnaires belges au service de la Perse, 1898-1915 (Teheran-Liège, 1976). - [Georges Petit]. *A more extended description with all the names, life dates and more info on the depicted calligraphers, is available on demand. ** We do thank Dr Anna Livia Beelaert (Leiden University) for historical and philological information kindly supplied.
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