AMĀNAT KHAN ŠĪRĀZĪ, ʿABD-AL-ḤAQQ (d. 1054-55/ 1644-45), designer of the calligraphy on the Tāǰ Maḥall. He and his elder brother Afżal Khan (q.v.) immigrated from Iran to India around 1017/1608; the tomb of Akbar (d. 1014/1605) was then under construction at Sikandra near Agra, and ʿAbd-al-Ḥaqq was appointed to design the calligraphy and probably also to compose the Persian verses inscribed on the gateway. Completed in 1022/1613, the calligraphy is signed by ʿAbd-al-Ḥaqq in three places, once citing his father’s name as Qāsem of Shiraz. Afżal Khan quickly became an important court official and eventually Shah Jahān’s prime minister, while ʿAbd-al-Ḥaqq apparently worked at the royal library, as evidenced by the presence of his seals and inspection notices (ʿarż dīda) in several important Mughal manuscripts. Periodically he was entrusted with more important official functions; in 1040/1631 he headed a diplomatic mission to receive the newly arrived Persian ambassador Moḥammad-ʿAlī Beg and escort him to Burhanpur, where Shah Jahān was in residence.
When Shah Jahān’s wife Momtāz Maḥall died in childbirth (17 Ḏu’l-qaʿda 1040/17 June 1631), ʿAbd-al-Ḥaqq was appointed to select the Koranic passages and design the calligraphy for her tomb. One year later, the emperor honored him with the title Amānat Khan and promoted him to the manṣab rank of 900 (Pādšāh-nāma, ed. K. Aḥmad and ʿAbd-al-Raḥīm, Calcutta, Bib. Ind., 1867-69, Ia, p. 535). During the next six years, he devoted himself primarily to completing the Tāǰ Maḥall’s calligraphy, though he continued to hold his post in the royal library and also designed the calligraphy for the small Madrasa-ye Šāhī mosque at Agra (dated 1045-46/1635, with three signatures). The calligraphy inside the great domed hall of the Tāǰ Maḥall was completed in 1048/1638; Amānat Khan’s signature (Figure 33) reads: “Finished with His help; written by the humble faqīr Amānat Khan Šīrāzī in the year 1048 heǰrī, corresponding to the twelfth year of the auspicious reign [of Shah Jahān].” At about this time Afżal Khan died in Lahore at the age of seventy; according to Čandar Bhān’s Čahar čaman (ed. M. Rafiq, unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Punjab University, 1970, pp. 114-16), the calligrapher was deeply grieved, gave up his office and rank, and constructed a serai near Lahore in which he was later buried; now known as Sarāy-e Amānat Kan, it is located twelve miles southwest of Amritsar. Amānat Khan designed the elaborate glazed-tile calligraphy and composed the Persian inscriptions (dated 1050/1640-41), which imply that he built the serai as a memorial to his brother. According to the Pādšāh-nāma (II, p. 737), Amānat Khan died in Shah Jahān’s eighteenth regnal year (1054-55/1644-45); he was survived by two sons, Fażlallāh and ʿEnāyatallāh, the latter of whom, known as ʿĀqel Khan, had been adopted by Afżal Khan.
The following images have been submitted by generous permission of our reader, Mr. Saiyed Anwer Abbas, who personally visited Sarāy-e Amānat Kan in March 2014.
See under Afżal Khan. See also E. W. Smith, Akbar’s Tomb, Sikandarah, Near Agra, Archaeological Survey of India 35, Allahabad, 1909.
Saʿīd Aḥmad Akbarābādī, Moraqqaʿ-e Akbarābād, Agra, 1931, p. 120.
W. E. Begley, “Amānat Khan and the Calligraphy on the Taj Mahal,” Kunst des Orients 12, 1978/1979, pp. 5-60.
Idem, “Four Mughal Caravanseraies,” Muqarnas 1, 1983, pp. 167-79.
(W. E. Begley)
Originally Published: December 15, 1989
Last Updated: August 2, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 9, pp. 923-924
W. E. Begley, “AMĀNAT KHAN ŠĪRĀZĪ,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/9, pp. 923-924, available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/amanat-khan-sirazi-abd-al-haqq (accessed on 30 December 2012).