ʿABD-AL-RAŠĪD DAYLAMĪ, a calligrapher and poet who served the Mughal ruler Shah Jahān (1037-58/1628-58). Born in Qazvīn to a family of Ḥasanī sayyeds, he studied calligraphy with his maternal uncle, Mīr ʿEmād Ḥasanī, probably during the latter’s residence in Isfahan (ca. 1008-24/1599-1615; Bayānī, Ḵošnevīsān II, pp. 393, 521-26). After the assassination of Mīr ʿEmād in 1024/1615, his associates went into hiding and then fled Iran. In a petition addressed to Shah Jahān, ʿAbd-al-Rašīd states that, when most of Mīr ʿEmād’s followers moved to Ottoman Turkey, he traveled to India. Petitioning to be relieved of his duties for reasons of health, ʿAbd-al-Rašīd states that he has been in Shah Jahān’s service for twenty-three years (Bayānī, Ḵošnevīsān II, p. 394). This petition may be connected with the removal of ʿAbd-al-Rašīd from his position as director (dārūḡa) of the royal library (ketābḵāna) which is said to have occurred in 1056/1646-47 (Ṣāleḥ, ʿAmal-e Ṣāleḥ I, preface, p. 5). If so, ʿAbd-al-Rašīd may have entered the service of Shah Jahān in 1033/1623-24, four years before the latter’s accession to the throne. According to Bayānī, ʿAbd-al-Rašīd assumed control of the royal boyūtāt toward the end of Shah Jahān’s reign and retained that position under Awrangzēb (Bayānī, Ḵošnevīsān II, p. 393). A death date of 1081/1670-71 is given for ʿAbd-al-Rašīd in a poem about him composed by Moḥammad Saʿīd for Awrangzēb’s daughter, Zīb al-nesāʾ (Aṣlaḥ, Taḏkera II, p. 557; Bayānī, Ḵošnevīsān II, pp. 397-98).

Beyond his connection with the Mughal dynasty, little is known about ʿAbd-al-Rašīd’s life. Manuscripts and album pages executed by him in India are dated between 1041/1631-32 and 1071/1660-61 (Bayānī, Ḵošnevīsān II, pp. 393, 399-400). Bayānī also attributes to him works executed in Yazd, Ašraf (present-day Behšahr), and Isfahan dated between 1000/1591-92 and 1034/1624-25 (Ḵošnevīsān II, pp. 398-99). It is possible that some or all of these examples were executed by another calligrapher using the name Rašīd or ʿAbd-al-Rašīd.

ʿAbd-al-Rašīd specialized in the nastaʿlīq script, a hand in which his master excelled. A published example of his work is executed in the smooth and dramatic style associated with Mīr ʿEmād (Fażāʾelī, Aṭlas, p. 534; Safadi, Islamic Calligraphy, pp. 91, 100). It is sometimes said that ʿAbd-al-Rašīd instructed Shah Jahān’s son Dārā Šokūḵ in calligraphy (Bayānī, Ḵošnevīsān II, p. 393). However the published work by that prince is not in the style used by Mīr ʿEmād and ʿAbd-al-Rašīd (Beach, The Grand Mogul, p. 171; Welch, Calligraphy, pp. 188-89). Nevertheless, ʿAbd-al-Rašīd’s work was appreciated by various calligraphers active in India, such as Moḥammad Saʿīd, known as Ašraf, who composed an elegy on ʿAbd-al-Rašīd (Bayānī, Ḵošnevīsān II, pp. 395, 397-98).


Moḥammad Aṣlaḥ, Taḏkera-ye šoʿarā-ye Kašmīr, ed. Rašdī, Karachi, 1968.

Mahdī Bayānī, Ḵošnevīsān II, pp. 393-400, 518-38.

Milo C. Beach, The Grand Mogul: Imperial Painting in India 1600-1660, Williamstown, 1978.

Ḥabīballāh Fażāʾelī, Aṭlas-e ḵaṭṭ, Isfahan, 1391/1971-72, pp. 533-35.

Yasin Safadi, Islamic Calligraphy, London, 1978.

Moḥammad Ṣāleḥ, ʿAmal-e Ṣāleḥ: Šāh Jahānnāma, ed. Yazdānī and Qorayšī, Lahore, 1967.

Anthony Welch, Calligraphy in the Arts of the Muslim World, Austin, 1979.

(P. P. Soucek)

Originally Published: December 15, 1982

Last Updated: July 14, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 2, pp. 149-150

Cite this entry:

P. P. Soucek, “'Abd-Al-Rasid Daylami,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/2, pp. 149-150; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/abd-al-rasid-daylami-calligrapher-and-poet-under-the-mughal-shah-jahan-1628-58 (accessed on 16 January 2014).