The image of a woman in a green dress is illustrated using six lines from Imru al-Qais’s 6th century classical Arabic poem “Let Us Stop and Weep” hand written in the Jali Diwani script.
The piece is written in several different hand made and manufactured inks, all with light-fast pigments, written on Papier d’Elephant.
The original Arabic text with 19th century English translation are as follows:
وجِـيْدٍ كَجِيْدِ الرِّئْمِ لَيْسَ بِفَاحِـشٍ
إِذَا هِـيَ نَصَّتْـهُ وَلاَ بِمُعَطَّــلِ
وفَـرْعٍ يَزِيْنُ المَتْنَ أسْوَدَ فَاحِــمٍ
أثِيْـثٍ كَقِـنْوِ النَّخْلَةِ المُتَعَثْكِــلِ
غَـدَائِرُهُ مُسْتَشْزِرَاتٌ إلَى العُــلاَ
تَضِلُّ العِقَاصُ فِي مُثَنَّى وَمُرْسَــلِ
English translation from W.A. Clauston’s “Arabic Poetry”, 1881:
Her neck was like that of a milk-white hind, but, when she raised it, exceeded not the justest symmetry; nor was the neck of my beloved so unadorned.
Her long coal-black hair decorated her back, thick and diffused, like bunches of dates clustering on the palm-tree.
Her locks were elegantly turned above her head; and the riband which bound them was lost in her tresses, part braided, part dishevelled.
Imru al-Qais’s “Let Us Stop and Weep” is one of the seven Mo’allaqat, a collection of Jahiliyya (Pre-Islamic) epic or long poems, all written in the 6th century, considered to be the finest examples of Pre-Islamic Arabic literature.
The Jali Diwani script was developed in 16th century Ottoman Turkey for mostly ornamental and bureaucratic use. It’s complex interweaving of letters make it both highly ornamental and difficult to forge, hence why it was frequently used on official documents and seals.
This piece is the first in a series of four, one each rendered in red, purple, blue, and green.