ʿABBĀS B. REŻĀ-QOLĪ KHAN NŪRĪ, calligrapher and civil servant, b. at Tāker-e Nūr in Māzandarān, d. 1255/1839-40 and buried in Naǰaf. According to one account, he joined the entourage of Emām-verdī Mīrzā b. Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah, under whose protection he achieved fame and wealth, including sumptuous residences in Tehran and Tāker. But in 1251/1835, after twenty years of prosperity, ʿAbbās suffered a reverse of fortune; his home in Tāker was destroyed by a flood, and he was forced to retire from government service. At the time of his death he was living in seclusion and poverty (Eqlīm-e Nūr; see Bayānī, Ḵošnevīsān, p.. 344).
A descendant of Nūrī, Mīrzā Afżalallāh Neẓām-al-mamālek, compiled a more detailed account of his life (summarized in ibid., pp. 344-46). According to it ʿAbbās became a proficient calligrapher before leaving Tāker, and inscriptions by his hand could be seen there. He began early to imitate the style of the noted calligrapher Mīr ʿEmād (11th-12th/16th-17th centuries.) Moving to Tehran, ʿAbbās worked in the army administration (daftar-e laškarī) and rose to the position of secretary of the army (laškar-nevīs). He was acquainted with the crown prince, ʿAbbās Mīrzā, the chief minister Abu’l-Qāsem Mīrzā, and other prominent figures; and his association with Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah apparently completed his success. The shah, by this account, greatly admired Mīr ʿEmād’s work and wished to have an album of that master’s calligraphy copied. The prince Ḥasan-ʿAlī Mīrzā suggested ʿAbbās for the task, and ʿAbbās’s skill so impressed the king that he granted the calligrapher a stipend, gifts, and the title Mīrzā-ye Bozorg. However, Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah died in 1250/1834; the following year Ḥāǰī Mīrzā Āḡāsī became vizier under Moḥammad Shah and forced ʿAbbās into retirement.
Surviving examples of ʿAbbās’s calligraphy range in date from 1218/1803-04 to 1239/1823-34. While said to have been skilled in all the traditional scripts, he is best remembered for his nastaʿlīq in the manner of Mīr ʿEmād; and most significant among his extant works are the pages copied for Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah. Several album pages preserved in the former Imperial Library, Tehran, bear the notation that they were copied from Mīr ʿEmād’s work, at the shah’s request, in 1237/1821-22 (ibid., pp. 345-48). An album page now in the Fogg Museum is similar and may also belong to this commission (cf. A. Welch, Calligraphy in the Arts of the Muslim World, New York, 1979, pp. 162-63, and Ḥabīballāh Fażāʾelī, Aṭlas-e ḵaṭṭ, Isfahan, 1391/1971, p. 571). In these pages ʿAbbās followed the diagonal format used by Mīr ʿEmād. His script resembles that of the earlier master in the character of its lines and the rhythmic flow created by selective exaggeration of letters. (Cf., for Mīr ʿEmād, Welch, Calligraphy, p. 141; Ḥāǰī Zayn-al-dīn, Badāʿeʾ al-ḵaṭṭ, Baghdad, 1972, nos. 673, 730.)
Bibliography: Given in the text.
(P. P. Soucek)
Originally Published: December 15, 1982
Last Updated: July 13, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 1, p. 84