|Source: Abu'l-Fazl 'Allami, A'IN-I AKBARI (3 vols.). Vol. 1 trans. H. Blochmann, 1927. Vol. 1, pp. 54-55. Ed. *ZDJ*|
Book 1, Chapter 20: The Royal Seals
|Seals are used in the three branches
of the Government; in fact every man requires them in his transactions.
In the beginning of the present reign, Mawlana Maqsud, the seal-engraver,
cut in a circular form upon a surface of steel, in the riqa character,
the name of his Majesty, and those of his illustrious ancestors up to Timurlang;
and afterwards he cut another similar seal, in the nasta'liq character,
only with his Majesty's name. For judicial transactions a second kind of
seal was made, mihrabi in form, which had the following verse round
the name of his Majesty :—
Rasti mujib-i riza-yi kudast
"Uprightness is the means of pleasing
Tamkin made a new seal of the second kind; and afterwards Mawlana Ali Ahmad of Delhi improved both. The round small seal goes by the (chaghata'i) name of Uzuk, and is used for farman-i sabtis; and the large one, into which he cut the names of the ancestors of his Majesty, was at first only used for letters to foreign kings, but nowadays for both. For other orders a square seal is used, engraved with the words Allahu Akbar jalla jalalahu, whilst another of a peculiar stamp is used for all matters connected with the seraglio. For the seals attached to farmans, another stamp is used of various forms.
Of seal-engravers I shall mention:
1. Mawlana Maqsud of Hirat, one of the servants of Humayun, who writes well the riqa and nasta'liq characters. The astrolabe, globes, and various mistars which he made, were much admired by people of experience. The patronage of his Majesty perfected his art.
2. Tamkin of Kabul. He was educated in his native country, and brought his art to such a perfection as to excite the jealousy of the preceding engraver, whom he surpassed in the nasta'liq.
3. Mir Dost of Kabul. He cuts both the riqa and nasta’ liq characters in cornelian. He does not come up to the preceding artists. His riqa is better than his nasta’ liq. He also understands assaying.
4. Mawlana Ibrahim. In the art of cutting cornelians he is the pupil of his brother Sharaf of Yazd. He surpasses the ancient engravers; and it is impossible to distinguish his riqa and nasta'liq from the masterpieces of the best calligraphers. He engraved the words la'l jalali, or the glorious ruby, upon all imperial rubies of value.
5. Mawlana Ali Ahmad of Delhi who, according to all calligraphers, stands unsurpassed as a steel-engraver, so much so that his engravings are used as copies. His nasta'liq is charming: but he writes also other characters as well. He learned the trade from his father Shaykh Husayn, studied the manner of Mawlana Maqsud, and eventually surpassed all.
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