Mir Khalil Padishah-Qalam (Mir Khalilullah Shah)
Mir Khalil Padishah-Qalam, better-known as Mir Khalilullah Shah, was among the leading sayyids of Iraq-i Ajam. He served as court calligrapher and courtier in the palace of Sultan Ibrahim Adil Shah II in Bijapur. He became so famous for his mastery in nasta’liq that Safavid Shah Abbas I (r.1587-1629) wrote the following panegyric praising him:
Khurshid-i ‘Iraq az Dakkan miayad
Kan-i la’l ba-kan-i khishtan miayad
Sar-daftar-i jumla khushnuwisan-i jihan
Ya’ni ki Khalil-i bud-shikan miayad”
'The sun of ‘Iraq has risen from Deccan soil.
Such a jewel of that soil came from its own mine.
The leader of the calligraphers of the world,
I mean, Khalil, the idol-destroyer, came'
In 1617, when Sultan Ibrahim Adil Shah II compiled his book, Kitab-e-Navras (Book of Nine Rasas), he asked Mir Khalil to transcribe a copy. After its completion, the Sultan was so pleased that he gave Mir Khalil the epithet Padishah-Qalam ('king of the pen') and to show his appreciation symbolically seated him on his throne. Mir Khalil was celebrated by the members of the court, including the viziers of the imperial council, and taken to his home by court officials. Sultan Ibrahim’s court poets composed chronograms to commemorate the date of this happy event. One of the chronograms, dated 1027 AH/1617 AD, reads:
Sal-i tarikh-i in khojasta khitab / Shah gardid padishah-qalam
'The year of this blessed addressing / the king of the pen became the king'
Since the calligrapher signed his name “Mir Khalil, nicknamed (mulaqqab) the King of the Pen (Padishah-Qalam)”, it is certain that the present manuscript was copied by Mir Khalil after 1617. The manuscript’s extremely fine Safavid binding indicates that the manuscript made its way to the Safavid court in Isfahan, possibly intended as a royal gift to the Shah. For more on Mir Khalil see Mehdi Bayani, ahval va athar-e khosh-nevisan-e nasta’liq, vol.1, Tehran, 1345, pp.177-180; Minorsky, Calligraphers and Painters, 'A treatise by Qadi Ahmad son of Mir Munshi', Washington, 1959, p.151.
Sultan Ibrahim Adil-Shah II (r.1580-1627)
Sultan Ibrahim Adil Shah II was king of the Sultanate of Bijapur and a member of the Adil Shahi dynasty. Under his reign the dynasty enjoyed its greatest period as he extended his frontier as far south as Mysore. He was a skilful administrator and a generous patron of the arts. He reverted to the Sunni form of Islam, but remained tolerant of other religions, including Christianity. After his reign, increasing weakness permitted Mughal encroachment and the successful revolt of the Maratha king Shivaji, who killed the Bijapur general Afzal Khan and scattered his army. The dynasty left a tradition of cosmopolitan culture and artistic patronage whose architectural remains can be seen in the capital city of Bijapur.
Ibrahim Adil Shah II was a great admirer of the arts of the book and a man of the pen. He wrote the book Kitab-e-Navras ('Book of Nine Rasas') in Dakhani, a collection of fifty-nine poems and seventeen couplets. According to the court-poet Zuhuri, he wrote it to introduce the theory of nine Rasas, which occupies an important place in Indian aesthetics, to acquaint people who were only brought up in the Persian ethos. The book opens with a prayer to Saraswati, the Goddess of learning.