Recto: Persian inscription in top margin, in nasta‘liq script:
Picture of Muhammad Shah, the Great Warrior King;
Persian inscription at bottom center of painting, in nasta‘liq script:
The work of the lowly Muhammad Riza, the Indian 178 [AH 1178];
verso: Calligraphy of calligraphic exercises and a ghazal of Hafiz (Persian, 1325¬–1389) by Mahmud ibn Ishaq al-Shahabi (possibly Armenian, active mid to late 1500s):
In center, Persian exercises including on the second line down the “abjad” letters of numeration followed by calligrapher’s signature, in nasta‘liq script:
Done by the hand of the sinful slave Mahmud ibn Ishaq al-Shahabi, may God forgive his sins, in the year 982;
Persian verses above from a ghazal of Hafiz (Persian, 1325–1389), in nasta‘liq script:
For some days now the Daughter of the Vine has been lost to us,
Gone away to tend to her own affairs. Be alert and prepared (as a search party).
Her dress is of rubies and she wears a tiara of delicate glass.
She carries off wisdom and knowledge. Till you feel safe and secure from her, remain alert!
Whoever will bring her bitter presence to me, I will give him sweet confectionaries (halwa) in exchange,
And should she be hiding in disguise in the underworld, go down (and seek her out)
The daughter of the dark-colored (vine) is quick-tempered, petulant, rose-colored and drunk.
Should you find her, take her towards Hafiz’s house.
Persian verses below, continued from above, in nasta‘liq script:
I saw her last night, sauntering and tipsy.
A cup in hand, she was heading towards a gathering of the drunk
I was so vexed that my poetic powers
Became distraught and fled away from me
She was harboring thoughts of Khwarazm and the shores of the Oxus
With a thousand complaints she was leaving the Kingdom of Solomon
Gone would be the person who knew the very soul of poetry as no one else.
I was witnessing this and my soul was seeping out of my body
I protested and much lamented but to no avail
For this was a matter for the Sultan’s compassion to tend.