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Yahya al-Sufi

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The Grove Encyclopedia of Islamic Art and Architecture What is This? Provides in-depth historical and cultural information on over a thousand years of Islamic art and architecture

Yahya al-Sufi

(fl. 1330–51).

Ilkhanid calligrapher. According to the Safavid chronicler Qazi Ahmad, Yahya studied calligraphy with Mubarakshah ibn Qutb Tabrizi (fl. c.1323), one of six pupils of Yaqut al-musta῾simi (see also Calligraphy, §III, C). Yahya was a mystic, hence his epithet al-Sufi, and, after working for the warlord Amir Chupan, he moved to the court of the Injuid ruler of Shiraz, Jamal al-Din Abu Ishaq (r. 1343–54), hence his epithet al-Jamali. He penned several manuscripts of the Koran, including small, single-volume copies (1338–9, Istanbul, Mus. Turk. & Islam. A., MS. K 430; 1339–40, Dublin, Chester Beatty Lib., MS. 1475) and a large, 30-volume copy (4 vols, 1344–6; Shiraz, Pars Mus., MS. 456). The latter manuscript was probably commissioned by Abu Ishaq's mother, Tashi-khatun, who bequeathed it to the Shah Chiragh Mosque at Shiraz. Each folio has five lines of majestic muḥaqqaq script, although the illumination by Hamza ibn Muhammad al-῾Alawi is of poor quality, like that of many of the manuscripts produced at Shiraz under the Injuids (see Illustration, §V, B, 6). Yahya also designed architectural inscriptions, including one recording Abu Ishaq's visit to Persepolis in August 1347 and another recording Abu Ishaq's repairs in 1351 to the Khudakhana, the small building for Koran manuscripts in the court of the Friday Mosque at Shiraz.

Bibliography

  • Qāżī Aḥmad ibn Mīr Munshī: Gulistān-i hunar [Rose-garden of art] (c.1606); Eng. trans. by V. Minorsky as Calligraphers and Painters (Washington, DC, 1959), p. 62
  • S. M. T. Mustafavi: Iqlīm-i Pārs (Tehran, Iran. Solar 1343/1964), pp. 59, 64, 66, 347; Eng. trans. by R. N. Sharp as The Lands of Pārs (1978), pp. 44, 226
  • D. James: Qur῾āns of the Mamlūks (London and New York, 1988), pp. 162–73; nos. 63–4, 69
  • S. S. Blair: “Yaqut and his Followers,” Manuscripta Orientalia, ix/3 (2003), pp. 39–47; Persian trans., “Yāqūt wa pīravānish,” Ayene-ye Miras (Mirror of Heritage), iii/2 (Summer 2005), pp. 102–28
  • S. S. Blair: Islamic Calligraphy (Edinburgh, 2006), pp. 286, n. 4 and 301, n. 99
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