kyaa .suurat hai kyaa qaamat hai dast-o-paa kyaa naazuk hai;N
aise patle mu;Nh dekho jo ko))ii kulaal banaavegaa

1) what a face it is, what a stature it is, how delicate are the hands and feet!
2) look-- as if any potter will make such a delicate/thin mouth/face!



patlaa : 'Spare, emaciate, lean, delicate, weak, feeble; fine, attenuated, thin (cloth, paper, or liquid), slender; sharp, tapering; rarefied, subtle'. (Platts p.225)


mu;Nh : 'Mouth; face, countenance; aspect; presence'. (Platts p.1081)

S. R. Faruqi:

kulaal = potter

For one thing, it's no small pleasure that in order to have a comparison with the beloved's beauty he has come up with the image of a clay toy, and has used a word like kulaal , which is very homey and has been taken from everyday life. But he also creates a picture of the skilfulness of Nature, as Sauda has done in this verse:

dunyaa tamaam gardish-e aflaak se banii
maa;Tii hazaar rang kii us chaak se banii

[the whole world came into being from the revolving of the heavens
with a thousand colors, from that potter's- wheel it came into being]

In addition, instead of mentioning 'a Chinese figurine', etc., he has spoken of a Hindustani potter, and made the verse purely homey and Hindustani. Then, with regard to clay toys, the idea of the delicacy of hand and foot gives a twofold pleasure, because clay toys not only break when they fall, but also have their hands and feet as their most delicate parts.

If seen from the point of view of meaning, then in the second line is an enjoyable ambiguity. (1) Look at the beloved's mouth/face-- can any potter make such an image? (2) If any potter would make such an image, then you would keep your eyes fixed on its face-- that is, you would keep staring in amazement at such workmanship. (3) If any potter (who usually makes forms more beautiful than reality) would make such an image of the beloved, then you would keep staring at this image. Here is the true flesh and blood figure-- however much the heart would desire it, still it's too little.

He has slightly changed this theme, and composed it in the fifth divan [{1677,7}]:

kyaa kyaa shakle;N ma;hbuubo;N kii pardah-e ;Gaib se niklii hai;N
mun.sif ho ;Tuk ay naqqaashaa;N aise chahre banaate hai;N

[what forms of beloveds have emerged from the veil of the Unseen!
if one would be a bit fair-minded-- oh sculptors, do you make such faces?]



SRF points out the witty delights of the verse-- is the beloved adorably delicate (such that no potter could duplicate such limbs), or undesirably flimsy (such that no potter would be foolish enough to make such instantly breakable excrescences)? All the insha'iyah kyaa exclamations in the first line might thus-- as we realize retrospectively, after hearing the second line-- be expressions not (only) of admiration but of shock or even disapproval at such maladroit workmanship.

Moreover, the work of a humble 'potter' was usually cheap and relatively utilitarian, rather than being fine art like the work of a portrait painter; so is there a suggestion that the beloved is made of commonplace, low-class material? There's also a hint of the 'beloved has no mouth' convention (since it might be not her face but her mouth itself that's impossibly thin and small).

The beloved is thus simultaneously praised, as usual, for her delicacy, and teased (in a much more piquant and enjoyable way) for her frailty. Here's Ghalib's way of accomplishing the same double feat: