Pir Yahya al-Sufi is known to have lived in Shiraz circa 1340. According to the Safavid chronicler Qadi Ahmad, he is said to have been a follower of Mubarakshah bin Qutb Tabrizi Zarin Qalam, one of the Six Masters or the Six Followers of Yaqut al-Musta'simi. Three of these masters established a distinct calligraphic style in Iraq and north-western Iran whilst three others, from which Pir Yahya al-Sufi descends, established another tradition in southern/eastern Iran (Sheila Blair, Islamic Calligraphy, n.4, p.286).
Sheila Blair records an undated calligraphic panel by Pir Yahya al-Sufi in the so-called Baysunghur Album which passed to the Ottomans for it bears the seal of Selim I (r. 1512-20). Blair indicates that it might have been brought by the Timurid Prince Badi' al-Zaman or sized after the battle of Chaldiran (Blair, op. cit., n.99, p.301). The Ottoman panels and marbled paper borders associated with our 14th century piece may well indicate that our panel followed the same route.
Yahya al-Sufi signed two Qur'ans dated 1344 and 1345, one of which copied for the Shah Chiragh shrine in Shiraz, now in the Pars Library in Shiraz (Y.H. Safadi, Islamic calligraphy, London, 1978, p. 25, ill. 60).
He is also the scribe of an inscription at Persepolis celebrating the passage of Shaykh Abu Ishaq, the Injuid ruler (Douglas Pickett, Early Persian tilework: the medieval flowering of kashi, London, 1997, p.154).