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Bahadur Shah Zafar : calligraphy (2)

Mirza Firuz Shah
Art and Calligraphy
Bahadur Shah II 1837–1857

Bahadur Shah Zafar : calligraphy (2)



One of the items on exhibit in ‘Mughal India’ is an album containing examples of some of the best calligraphers of 19th century Delhi. Unfortunately we were only able to display one opening in the exhibition, which was copied by the last Mughal ruler Bahadur Shah ‘Zafar’ (ruled 1837-1857), famous as a poet and calligrapher. It contains two verses in Arabic in praise of the Prophet Muhammad, taken from the introduction to the Gulistan ('Rose garden') by the 13th century Persian writer Saʻdi. In more recent times they have become famous after being sung by popular qawwali singers in Pakistan: He attained the heights in his perfection; he obscured all darkness with his beauty. Beauteous is his every quality. Invoke blessings on him and his Family. Zafar was himself a mystic, poet, and calligrapher of accomplishment, but his finest achievement was to nourish the talents of two of the greatest Urdu poets: poet Ghalib (1797–1869), and his rival Zauq (1789–1854). While the British progressively took over more and more of the Emperor’s power, the court busied itself in obsessive pursuit of the most perfect Urdu couplet.

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Ismail Mazari

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Very good information.


The Mughal Images immediately took a much greater interest in realistic portraiture than was typical of Persian miniatures. Animals and plants were the main subject of many miniatures for albums and were more realistically depicted. To upload your images click here.

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