KAMĀL-AL-DIN ḤOSAYN ḤĀFEẒ-E HARAVI, a prominent Safavid calligrapher during the reign of Shah Ṭ ahmāsp I (r. 1524-76, q.v.). He was commonly known by the nickname (laqab) of Wāḥed al-ʿayn (One-eyed; see Minorsky, pp. 30, 152) and was later honored with the title of Eḵ-tiār al-monši. He should not be confused with another well-known scribe and calligrapher, known as Ḵᵛāja Eḵ-tiār Monši (see EḴTIĀR MONŠI), who wrote correspondence on behalf of Ṭ ahmāsp I’s son, Mirzā Solṭān Moḥammad, in the city of Herat, before the latter’s tenure as Shah Moḥammad Ḵodābanda (q.v.) between 1578 and 1588. A committed practitioner of alchemy, Kamāl-al-Din Ḥosayn was apparently noted for his ability to dilute lapis lazuli. This alchemical proclivity, combined with his dervish-like qualities wherein he wore felt robes and walked on foot everywhere, probably explains why he was unable to secure or sustain employment in any official ateliers in Khorasan. He set out for western Persia, and eventually lived in Qom for some time. Also a ḥāfeẓ (someone who knows the entire Qurʾān by heart) and a Qurʾān reciter, he was invited to join the royal court and perform in front of Shah Ṭahmāsp I. In a well-cited incident, Kamāl-al-Din Ḥosayn retorted brusquely to the Safavid shah that such public performances did not suit him. An impressed shah sought to present this upstart calligrapher with a series of gifts, including a horse and a camel, but Kamāl-al-Din Ḥosayn politely refused. Eventually, he returned to Khorasan, and passed away in 1555-56 in the city of Mashad. By all accounts, he was a master calligrapher and seemed to be particularly respected for his work in nastaʿliq, taʿliq, ṯolṯ, and nasḵ scripts (Bayāni, I, p. 168; Minorsky, p. 152). Samples of his works are available in the Library of Congress, the Sacker Gallery of Art, as well as in the manuscript library of the University of Tehran, in the former Imperial Library, Golestan Palace (Ketābḵāna-ye Salṭanati, Kāḵ-e Golestān, presently the Golestān Palace Library, Ketābkāna-ye Kāḵ-e Golestān) in Tehran, and in the Topkapi Saray Library in Istanbul. According to Bayāni (I, p. 169; IV, p. 53), a ṯolṯ inscription by Kamāl-al-Din Ḥosayn appears on the wall of the Friday Mosque (Masjed-e Jāmeʿ) in Isfahan.



Mahdi Bayāni, Aḥwāl o āṯār-e ḵ-ošnevisān, 4 vols., vol. 4 ed. by Ḥosayn Maḥbubi-Ardakāni, Tehran, 1966-79.

Clément Huart, Les Calligraphes et les Miniaturistes de l’Orient Musulman, Paris, 1908; 2nd ed. Osnabrück, 1972.

V. Minorsky, ed. and tr., Calligraphers and Painters: A Treatise by Qāḍī Aḥmad, Son of Mīr Munshī (circa A.H. 1015/A.D. 1606), Washington, D. C., 1959.

(Colin Paul Mitchell)

Originally Published: December 15, 2010

Last Updated: April 20, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. XV, Fasc. 4, p. 417