ʿABDALLĀH ṢAYRAFĪ, influential calligrapher of the 8th/14th century in Iran (d. after 746/1345-46). He was the son of Ḵᵛāǰa Maḥmūd Ṣarrāf of Tabrīz and appears to have remained in that city all of his life. It is said that he was buried in the cemetery of Čarandāb southwest of Tabrīz. Trained in the six scripts used by calligraphers of the Iraqi school such as Yāqūt al-Mostaʿṣemī, ʿAbdallāh appears to have copied manuscripts and designed inscriptions for buildings. Surviving samples of his calligraphy include a Koran in moḥaqqaq script now in the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin (Plate IX); one in nasḵ (dated 720/1324) in the library of the shrine of Imam Reżā, Mašhad; and a page of calligraphy (724/1324) in the Iraq Museum, Baghdad, executed in ṯolṯ, nasḵ, and reqāʿī.
ʿAbdallāh achieved his greatest fame as a designer of architectural inscriptions. Sayyed Ḥaydar, said to be both a student of Yāqūt and the principal teacher of ʿAbdallāh, appears to have specialized in architectural inscriptions. Although all traces of them seem lost, ʿAbdallāh designed and probably executed the calligraphy on two monuments commissioned by descendants of Amīr Čūpān. The earlier structure, the Demašqīya Madrasa, was built on the order of Baghdad Ḵātūn bent Amīr Čūpān and subsequently became the burial place of her brother, Demašq Ḵᵛāǰa, who was killed on the order of Abū Saʿīd in 727/1327. The other structure acquired the popular name of ʿemārat-e ostād šāgerd (“Building of the master and the pupil”) in commemoration of the work of ʿAbdallāh and of his pupil Ḥāǰǰī Moḥammad Bandgīr. From the other names of this building (the ʿAlāʾīya or Solaymānīya structure), it can be seen that Qāżī Aḥmad’s ascription of it to the patronage of Amīr Čūpān is incorrect. According to the Rawżāt al-ǰenān of Ḥosayn Karbalāʾī, the building was constructed between 741/1340-41 and 743/1342-43 in the name of the nominal Il-khanid ruler Solaymān b. Yūsof Šāh and financed by ʿAlāʾ-al-dīn Ḥasan b. Tīmūrtāš b. Čūpān, better known as Ḥasan-e Kūčak. The calligraphy of ʿAbdallāh Ṣayrafī was still held in high esteem during the 9th/15th century, when his style was followed by Jaʿfar Tabrīzī. Dūst Moḥammad claims that the traditions of Khorasani calligraphy in the nasḵ script are derived from the writing of ʿAbdallāh Ṣayrafī, with Jaʿfar Tabrīzī acting perhaps as the transmitter of the tradition.
Qāżī Aḥmad, pp. 22, 24; tr., pp. 61-63.
Dūst Moḥammad, A Treatise on Calligraphists and Miniaturists, ed. M. Abdullah Chagtai, Lahore, 1936, p. 7.
Ḥosayn Karbalāʾī, Rawżāt al-ǰenān va ǰannāt al-ǰenān I, ed. Jaʿfar Solṭān-al-qorrāʾī, Tehran, 1344 Š./1965, pp. 175, 369-71.
Moḥammad Javād Maškūr, Tārīḵ-e Tabrīz tā pāyān-e qarn-e nohom-e heǰrī, Tehran, 1352 Š./1973, pp. 118, 579-80, 757, 782, 816-17, 850.
(P. P. Soucek)
Originally Published: December 15, 1982
Last Updated: July 15, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 2, pp. 203-205
P. P. Soucek, “Abdallah Sayrafi,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/2, p. 203-205; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/abdallah-sayrafi-calligrapher (accessed on 21 January 2014).