Selections of Arabic, Persian, and Ottoman Calligraphy
Calligrapher: Muhammad Ibrahim
Dimensions of Written Surface: 20.4 (w) x 15.5 (h) cm
This calligraphic panel, or levha, reads: "Oh 'Ali, my spirit is sacrified for you" (Ya 'Ali, ruhi fadakah). The letters are arranged artistically to fill the calligraphic panel, making the reading of the phrase quite difficult. Diacritics (vocalization signs) also fill in the composition's empty spaces. Although meaning is secondary to form, this vocative phrase calling for loyalty to 'Ali underscores the Shi'i message of the panel.
In the left vertical border, the artist Muhammad Ibrahim has included his seal and has dated his composition 1134/1721-2. Both the right and left vertical borders are decorated with blue-and-white marble (ebru or abri) paper, while the whole composition is backed by a thick cardboard covered by pink paper. In the left margin appears the number 205, which suggests that this particular calligraphic fragment was but one of many such specimens formerly included in an album of calligraphies.
The square seal impression of the artist Muhammad Ibrahim appears in another calligraphic fragment held in the collections of the Library of Congress (1-86-154.130). The fragment includes a mirror image of the expression "'Ali is the Vice Regent of God" ('Ali wali Allah). Shi'i calligraphic panels such as these two works executed by Muhammad Ibrahim during the 18th century are found in Iran and India, and were either bound into albums or displayed on walls.
Illuminated Islamic manuscripts
Arabic script calligraphy
28.7 (w) x 18.7 (h) cm
Library of Congress, African and Middle Eastern Division, Washington, D.C. 20540