Mir ‘Ali Harawi was born in Herat in 1476 AD and learned his trade from Zayn al-din Mahmud, and later by his master Sultan 'Ali Mashhadi. After the Shaybanid conquests, and under the patronage of Obayd Allah Khan ibn Mahmud (r.1512-39), Bukhara flourished and became a centre of political and intellectual life. In the second quarter of the sixteenth century, the city witnessed the production of manuscripts of the highest quality, for example a copy of Jami's Subhat al-Abrar, dated 942 AH/1536 AD (sold in these rooms 21 April 1980, lot 186) and a copy of Jami’s Tuhfat al-Ahrar dated 942 AH/1535 AD (sold at Christie’s, 26 October 2017, lot 85). Following Prince ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Khan in his travels and campaigns, Mir ‘Ali visited Mashhad and Samarqand, as attested by various inscriptions and colophons. He died in 1544-45 and is buried in Bukhara. His recorded works are dated between 914 AH/1508-09 AD and 948 AH/1541-42 AD (Mehdi Bayani 1959, pp.126-31).
The first folio of the present manuscript bears two quatrains in praise of the manuscript and its fine hand by two of the most famous nasta’liq masters at the court of Shah Tahmasp (r.1524-76), Shah Mahmud al-Nishapuri and Malik al-Daylami.
Shah Mahmud, known as Zarin-qalam ('Golden Pen'), was born in the city of Nishapur and studied calligraphy under the supervision of 'Abdi al-Katib Nishapuri. He specialised in the style of nasta'liq script with the famous master Sultan 'Ali al-Mashhadi (d.1519), who also taught Mir ‘Ali. Under the patronage of Shah Tahmasp (r.1524-76) he produced one of the most spectacular manuscripts of Nizami's Khamsa, now in the British Library (inv.no.2235). He died in 1564 in Mashhad.
Al-Faqir Malik, who signed the second quatrain, is very likely to be Malik Daylami (d.1562), a famous calligrapher from Mashhad who was called by Shah Tahmasp to Qazvin to work on the inscriptions of the Chihil Sutun and later supervised the album now in the Topkapi (Mehdi Bayani, Ahval va Asar-e Khosh-Nevisan, Vol.III, Tehran, 1348 sh., pp.598-609).
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