Line and spirituality
modern calligraphy by Mishkin Qalam and Muhammad-cAli

12 March – 19 June 2013

Recommend this exhibition

These works represent an important but little known chapter in the history of Middle Eastern calligraphy. Mishkin Qalam (1826–1912) and Mirza Muhammad-[ayn]Ali (1853–1937) shared close ties to Bahá’u’lláh (1817–1892), the Iranian prophet-founder of Bahá’í Faith.

Although rooted in Bábism, which partly stems from the Shi[ayn]a branch of Islam, Bahá’í Faith has gained worldwide recognition as an independent religion advocating the oneness of humanity under a single god, guided by the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh (‘Glory of God’).

Mishkin Qalam trained as a calligrapher, painter and poet in Isfahan, Iran. He learned of Bahá’u’lláh during his travels to Aleppo, Syria, and was inspired to copy Bahá’í teachings and invocations. Muhammad-[ayn]Ali, on the other hand, was Bahá’u’lláh’s son and second in line to succeed as leader of the faith.

Most of the calligraphy shown here comes from a group of over thirty works recently given to the British Museum by a generous anonymous donation. They include spiritual invocations, calligraphy exercises and poetry written in Persian and Arabic.

Calligraphy exercise by Muhammad-cAli, dated 1322 AH/AD 1904-5. Ink on marbled paper.