Seal Ring with Inscription

Object Name: Ring

Date: late 15th–early 16th century

Geography: Attributed to Iran or Central Asia

Culture: Islamic

Medium: Gold, cast and chased; nephrite, carved

Dimensions: H.1 3/8 in. (3.5 cm)
Diam. 1 in. (2.5 cm)

Classification: Jewelry

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1912

Accession Number: 12.224.6


This glorious gold cast and chased ring, with its striking nephrite seal, prophetic figures, and a dragon motif, is a fine example of a powerful talisman. The inscriptions on the nephrite seal venerate the Prophet Muhammad's cousin, son-in-law, and leader of the Shi’i sect ’Ali ibn Abi Talib (1986.109.2). The inscription at the center of the seal reads: "Glory to He who does not die." The protective power of the ring is comprehended in the poetic invocation that surrounds the center inscription. It reads:
Call upon ’Ali whose miracles manifest,
you will find his help in times of misfortune
All anguish and sorrow will dissipate
Through your friendship: Oh ’Ali Oh ’Ali Oh ’Ali
The power of this poem and the talismanic quality are reinforced on the bezel of the ring in an inscription that calls upon the Prophet Solomon, who was known for his gift of talking to animals and supernatural beings (jinn). The two gold dragon heads that hold the bezel in place are also considered a good omen, reinforcing the ring's apotropaic significance.