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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Calligraphy panel

Calligraphy panel

early 17th century

Flowers, including chrysanthemums and lilies, bloom within the frame of the calligraphy and the panel’s outer border. The calligraphic inscription is thus “planted” in the center of the page with sprouting leaves and flowers, evoking a garden. The Persian couplets also make reference to floral growth through the language of spring (bahar). While gardens can invoke paradise, here the garden alludes to a lover’s sanctuary. Throughout the poem, night (shām/shafaq) and morning (subh/sahar) are contrasted: ruby redtwilight versus the white pearl of dawn. This duality of day and night echoes the union of a man and woman, referenced in the poem’s first line (mardān and zan), and reinforces the idea of the garden as a lover’s abode.
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
9 x 4 1/8 in. (22.9 x 10.5 cm)
Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistorySeattle, Washington, Bumbershoot Festival, Seattle Center, Aug. 1975.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Luminous: The Art of Asia, Oct. 13, 2011 - Jan. 8, 2012

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Asian Art Museum, Boundless: Stories of Asian Art, Feb. 8, 2020 - ongoing [on view beginning Jan. 20, 2023].

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

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