JAMĀLI ṢUFI, PIR YAḤYĀ, calligrapher of the mid-8th/14th century who worked in Shiraz in the 740s/1340s. He was reputedly a pupil of Aḥmad Rumi and of Mobārakšāh b. Qoṭb (Zarrin Qalam), renowned students of the master calligrapher Yāqut Mostaʿsemi (d. 1297 or 1299 C.E.), who is credited with canonizing the proportions of the six chief Arabic scripts (aqlām-e setta; Bayāni, 1984, IV, p. 1233).
Before settling in Shiraz, where he served at the court of the Injuids (1303-53; see INJU DYNASTY) and later of the Muzaffarids (1314-93), Pir Yaḥyā worked under various patrons, including Amir Čobān Solduz (Süldüs; q.v.), the Il-khanid warlord (Fażāʾeli, p. 320; Bayāni, 1984, IV, p. 1233; James, 1988, p. 163). He transcribed several calligraphy specimens and manuscripts of the Qurʾān that range in date from 731/1330 to 746/1345 (Blair, p. 44). The earliest Qurʾān manuscript by Pir Yaḥyā is dated 739/1338-39 and kept at the Türk ve Islam Eserleri Muzesi (Bayāni, 1966-79, IV, p. 223; James, 1988, p. 164)
One of his most notable works is a Qurʾān commissioned in 1344-68 by Tāši Ḵatun, the mother of the Injuid ruler, Abu Eṣāq (q.v.), at the time of the construction of the Šāh-e Čerāq Mosque in Shiraz (James, 1988, p. 163). His finest work is a large, multi-volume Qurʾān manuscript in gold moḥaqqaq script, dated 745-46/1344-45, part of which is currently in the Pārs Museum in Shiraz (ms. 456; Bayāni, 1966-79, p. 224; Fażāʾeli, p. 320; James, 1988, pp. 162-63). This manuscript demonstrates the continuation of traditions developed at the Il-khanid capitals of Baghdad and Tabriz in Shiraz in the mid-14th century.
Pir Yaḥyā also designed monumental inscriptions for buildings in Najaf and Shiraz. One inscription is an eleven-line carved text on the entrance of a wall of the small stone palace built by the Achaemenid Darius the Great at Persepolis. It commemorates a visit to the site by the Injuid ruler of the area, Abu Esḥāq, in Rabiʿ I 748/June 1347 and his reverence to the great ancient kings of Persia (Moṣṭafawi, pp. 346-47; Blair, p. 45). He was also responsible for a ṯulṯ inscription in brick and glazed tile running around the upper part of the Ḵodā-ḵāna or Bayt al-Moṣḥaf (Qurʾān repository) at the center of the old Mosque (Masjed-e ʿAtiq) in Shiraz (Moṣṭafawi, pp. 65-66; Wilber, p. 28; James, 1988, p. 164).
Pir Yaḥyā was a contemporary of Iran’s master poet and lyricist, Ḵᵛaja Šams-al-Din Moḥammad Ḥāfeẓ (b. circa 726/1325). Although Shiraz endured stormy periods of political upheaval in the middle and late 14th century, art and culture continued to thrive, and eminent scholars, men of letters, poets and calligraphers remained active (Rypka, p. 271).
Other calligraphic works by Pir Yaḥyā can be found in the collections of the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, Türk ve Islam Eserleri Muzesi, and the Topkapı Saray Library in Istanbul.
Mehdi Bayāni, Aḥwāl wa āṯār-e ḵošne-visān, 4 vols., Tehran, 1966-79; new ed., 4 vols in two, Tehran, 1984.
Sheila Blair, “Yaqut and His Followers,” Manuscripta Orientalia 9/3, September 2003.
Ḥabib-Allāh Fażāʾeli, Aṭlas-e ḵaṭṭ, Tehran, 1984, pp. 319-21.
David Lewis James Qurʾans and Bindings from the Chester Beatty Library, London, 1980.
Idem, Qurʾans of the Mamluks, NY, 1988, pp. 162-64.
Martin Lings, Splendours of Qurʾan Calligraphy and Illumination, Liechtenstein, Thesaurus Islamicus Foundation, 2005.
Moḥammad-Taqi Moṣṭafawi, Eqlim-e Pārs: Āṯār-e tāriḵi wa amāken-e bāstāni-e Fārs, Tehran, 1964.
Jan Rypka et al., History of Iranian Literature, ed. Karl Jahn, Dordrecht, 1968.
Donald N. Wilber, The Masjid-i Atiq of Shiraz, Asia Institute of Pahlavi University Monograph 2, Shiraz, 1972.
Originally Published: December 15, 2008
Last Updated: April 10, 2012
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Vol. XIV, Fasc. 4, p. 438