As I was wandering through the Mughal exhibit at the British Library I briefly viewed the various texts, pictures, and pieces of art as I passed them; however, when I saw this book I stopped. The first thing that caught my attention was the elaborate drawings that dominated the margins of the page, and then I noticed the description of the object. It was then and there that I decided that this would be the object I would write about. This book, with its beautiful calligraphy and its adorned margins, was a copy of the poems of Hafiz of Shiraz.
Having read some of Hafiz’s poems for class, I found this book fascinating. Reading the description of this object; I found that this books history was just as interesting. The book was originally copied by Sultan ‘Ali Mashhadi, who was one of the most greatest calligraphers in Iran. The manuscript eventually was moved to the Mughal library where the emperor Jahangir had his artists add the beautiful pieces of art in the margins.
What I found most interesting about this object was that it was not an Indian book, but rather a book in Persian by a famous Persian poet that was adopted by the Mughals. I think this was included in the exhibit to show how the Mughals adopted the culture and artwork from Muslim Persia as a connection to the Muslim world. The Mughal empire was a Muslim empire in a predominately non-Muslim part of the world. The poems of Hafiz were famous, and Jahangir only had his artists embellish the especially valued manuscripts. Furthermore, this manuscript lasted through different times and cultures. Hafiz lived in the 14th century, and the text was copied sometime around the beginning of the 16th century before finally finding its way to the Mughal court in the 17th century. In a way this object was used to connect the Mughals to the cultures and traditions of Muslim Persia.