Qit'a in Nasta'liq Script

Madad ‘Ali, probably Indian, active 19th century

Made in India, Asia
Probably made in Tonk, Rajasthan, India, Asia

1859 (1277 Hijra)

Ink and gold on paper

Image: 9 × 4 7/8 inches (22.9 × 12.4 cm) Sheet: 12 3/8 × 8 1/4 inches (31.4 × 21 cm)

Curatorial Department:
South Asian Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
The India Collection: Gift of the British Government, 1878

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One of the most popular forms of secular Islamic calligraphy in India is the qit'a. In this format, four, or sometimes six, lines of Persian poetry are penned in an upward, diagonal direction on a vertically oriented sheet of paper. Here, the four major lines speak of the consequences of good and bad behavior. The lines are paired and aligned along their right edges (Persian, like Arabic, is read right to left). This layout results in four triangular zones suitable for illumination and additional writing. In this case, the calligrapher has filled the zones with text including his signature, a date, and pious declarations.