Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Calligraphy by Ibrahim Danishpishah (Zarin-Qalam), Iranian
Calligraphic Portrait of 'Ali ibn Abi Talib
Work Type
album folio
1344 AH/1924-1925 CE
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran
Qajar period
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Ink, color and gold on paper
33.6 x 23.2 cm (13 1/4 x 9 1/8 in.)
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of Chester A. Priest
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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This composition depicts `Ali ibn Abi Talib, Isalm's fourth orthodox caliph and first Shi`i imam. In the smaller vignettes below, horsemen representing `Ali's grandsons Qasim and `Ali Akbar flank a central image in which the Prophet Muhammad riding Buraq is greeted by `Ali in the guise of a lion. The composition incorporates pious expressions and verses from the Qur'an (2:255; 12:64; and 113). The date has been slightly abraded so that it is easy to misread it as 1244 (1828-29) rather than 1344 (1924-25).
Publication History

Annemarie Schimmel, "Poetry and Calligraphy: Thoughts about their Interrelation in Persian Culture", ed. Richard Ettinghausen, Westview Press, Inc. (Colorado, 1979), p. 208, fig. 121

Rahim Habibeh, Inscription As Art In the World of Islam - Unity In Diversity, exh. cat., Hofstra University (Hempstead, NY, 1996), page 24/figure 1

Maryam Ekhtiar, "Infused with Shi`ism: Representations of the Prophet in Qajar Iran", Picturing Prophetic Knowledge: The Prophet Muhammad in Cross-Cultural Literary and Artistic Traditions, ed. Christiane Gruber and Avinoam Shalem, De Gruyter (Berlin, 2014), pp. 97-138, pp. 109-110, ill. pp. 137-138

Exhibition History

Islamic Art From the Collections of the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 08/01/1974

The Continuous Stroke of a Breath: Calligraphy from the Islamic World, Harvard University Art Museums, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 12/20/2003 - 07/18/2004

32Q: 2550 Islamic, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 04/26/2017 - 11/08/2017

32Q: 3620 University Study Gallery, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 04/10/2015 - 05/10/2015

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at