In Iran, where several millennia of artistic activity have given birth to myriad examples of this intelligent and ingenious nation's genius, writing has ever enjoyed a particular status. Writing is the oldest mean through which man's spiritual and cultural acquisitions were transmitted from generation to generation. In the course of time, this art found applications in various domains, appearing as a decorative element on carved stone panels and monument facades, terra cotta vessels, wood, fabric,...
The latest achievement in this domain was the invention by Iranian calligraphers of "Shekasteh Script", as a decorative Nastaliq, in 17th century AD. It was first designed by "Morteza Qoli Khan Shamlou and later systematized by Mohammad Shafi Hosseini, who signed "Shafia", but it reached to the top of its perfection a few decade later, with the advent of great genius Abdolmajid Taleqani (Dervish). He, besides devoting his stupendous creativity to perfect this exquisite script, also manifested considerable literary capabilities, leaving behind valuable works in this domain.
Dervish Abdolmajid Taleqani was born in 1737 AD. This illustrious artist spent his childhood in his native village, Mehran, near Taleqan, where he received his elementary schooling in local traditional school, "Maktab Khaneh".
He left his birthplace to perfect his talent. His childhood coincided with the decline of Safavid rule, when Iran faced with various difficulties in terms of economic stability and social order, which prevented the emergence of artistic creativity or the flourishing of arts.
The country's chaotic situation at the time, compounded by young artist's indigence and lack of a tutor, prevents any rational inquiry to be made about this great man's motive and private developments. Indeed, in an era when, for want of adequate means of transportation and communication, people rarely left their towns, perhaps only for trading purposes with nearby villages, why would Dervish leave his birthplace for Qazvin, then Shiraz, and eventually Isfahan?
Undoubtedly, many researchers are eager to identify the motives of this emigration, undertaken in difficult conditions prevailing in Iran some two hundred and fifty years ago. Apparently, the only way out of this quandary, which we owe to the negligence of past biographers, is to turn to narratives about him that are scattered among the pages of various sources and the scarce fragments he has left behind.
Evidence shows that ever since his childhood, he possessed great intelligence, extraordinary talent, grandeur of soul and genius, which enabled him to acquire fame among the great scientific, literary and spiritual figures of his time, captivate the attention of literary men by his poems and discourses, and elicit the wonderment of men of art by his calligraphy.
He spent some time in Shiraz, capital city of Love and Literature, while his poetic talent developed through the frequentation of such eminent figures as Lotf Ali Beig Azar, Asheq Moshtaq and Hatif Isfahani. Soon he created sublime poems, which he signed either "Majid" or "Khamoush", while continuing to astonish all those around him, with the magic that flowed from his able fingers. Thus, his fame soon reaches Isfahan, capital city and cradle of civilization of the time, where every street held a treasure of artistic wonders, and where the most illustrious artists of realm were gathered.
Nevertheless, his fame soon crossed the gates of Isfahan, and he created masterpieces the like of which have rarely been produced by any artist. His personal virtuousness, his upright character and innate modesty, kept this untiring genius apart from worldly interest. Hence, in his writing about life, he has praised and given true meaning to his appellation of "Dervish".
Elsewhere, in a superb album preserved in Reza Abbasi Museum, Tehran, Iran, he has left behind stupendous examples, in "Qobar Script", of his magic. In a corner of a page, bemoaning the unfairness of the world, he has written most emphatically "I write and I write and I write and for it to remain in history that poor Abdolmajid preferred pardon to vengeance". This shows that he was firmly committed to upright virtues and that he had acquired the certainly that his "ideas" and "calligraphy" were part of history.
This type of writing, dedicated by way of acknowledgement and gratitude to such prominent figures as Lotf Ali Beig Azar, who supported him both financially and spiritually, appear miracles beyond the capability of any human being. It is related that emulating the manner of Mir Emad Hassani, Dervish perfected his Nastaliq penmanship while in his twenties, so much so that it was said "He has equaled his master's writing".
The veracity of this heavy claim is verified by his early works, when he emulated Shafia, un which most of words were written in Shekasteh Script. He thereafter devoted his efforts to this script, spending part of the last 15 years of his life imitating Shafia's works. Very soon, he surpassed all of the masters, who had written in this manner before him.
Although he always praised such great men as Morteza Qoli Khan Shamlou, Shafia and Mirza Hossein Kermani, he himself, in the short last years of his life, created masterful compositions of letters and words that made Shekasteh immortal, and one can daringly affirm that the evolution of this script during this brief period, which may not exceed 10 years, equaled its entire development over a period of 5 centuries, with all the alternations initiated in Nastaliq by a line of master calligraphers ranging from Mir Emad Heravi to Mirza Kalhor.
Mirza Kouchek Isfahani, Mohammad Reza Isfahani, Mirza Hassan Isfahani, Mirza Qolam Reza Isfahani and at the end of this period, the venerated Seyed Golestaneh (1901), each of whom may be considered a flag-bearer of this script, all followed his way, whether directly or indirectly, studying the magic of his pen and paying homage to his brilliant genius.
Although stricken with malaria in the last years of his life, he produced a multitude of calligraphic pages, albums and poetic collections and anthologies, while at the top of his art. These included "Collection of Hafiz' Poems", "Golestan Raz", "Collection of Sadi" and "Boustan Sadi", which today adorn museums in Iran and abroad.
Dervish died of his disease at the age of 35 in Isfahan and was humbly buried near "Tekyeh Mir" in "Takht Poulad Cemetery".