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Spink Indian & Islamic Works of Art

Indian & Islamic Works of Art
21 King Street, St. James's
London, SW1Y 6QY
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7930 5500
Facsimile: +44 (0)20 7930 5501
Email: [email protected]

Green and yellow Mughal tile
North India (Mughal), 17th century
Height: 26.6 cm (10� inches)
Width: 36.5 cm (14� inches)

The inscription reads:
dar bab-i shama'il-i tu fasli mikhanad
"[He] reads a chapter on your qualities".

A rare calligraphic tile in the cuerda seca technique, with an elegant inscription in nasta'liq framed by a cusped medallion cartouche, the calligraphy in grey against a brilliant yellow ground, the cartouche framed by a bold grey border and a yellow border, and surrounded by a contrasting vivid green glaze.

Calligraphic tiles in the cuerda seca technique formed part of the decorative schemes of Mughal monuments, and were set into both brick and stone buildings. Examples include the mosque and tomb of the saint Shah Madin at But Kadal, Zabidal, near Srinagar in Kashmir; Mariam Zamani's mosque at Lahore; and the tomb of Zaina-ul-Abidin's mother at Srinagar.

Calligraphic tiles were also probably used in the tomb of Asaf Khan in Lahore, which has cuerda seca tiles depicting floral designs. The tomb of the saint Qutb uddin Bakhtiyar Kaki at Mahrauli near Delhi has cuerda seca decoration but without calligraphy.

The tomb of Shah Madin dates from the mid-fifteenth century but was refurbished by a Mughal nobleman in Shah Jahan's time when the cuerda seca tiles were installed. Similarly, the earlier monuments of Mariam Zamani and Qutb uddin Bakhtiyar Kaki were also installed with cuerda seca tiles during the Shah Jahan period, which allows us to date the tiles to the mid-seventeenth century.

Related calligraphic tiles can be seen in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Lahore Museum.

A similar calligraphic tile in the David Collection, Copenhagen, is published in Kjeld von Folsach, "Art from the World of Islam in the David Collection", 2001, p. 196, no. 290.

all text & images � Spink Indian & Islamic Works of Art

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