Calligraphic Plaque

Object Name: Plaque

Date: probably late 17th century

Geography: Attributed to Iran

Culture: Islamic

Medium: Steel; forged and pierced

Dimensions: H. 6 1/2 in. (16.5 cm)
W. 15 in. (38.1 cm)

Classification: Metal

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1987

Accession Number: 1987.14


This piece belongs to a group of eight plaques, each inscribed with a verse from the same Shi’i poem giving the names of the Prophet, ’Ali, Fatima, and the imams. These plaques were likely set in the wooden doorway to a royal tomb or shrine. The striking cartouche shape is created by lobed arches formed at the horizontal ends of the rectangular panes, with smaller arches projecting from each straight border. The pious verse, inscribed in thuluth script, is set against an openwork ground of spiraling arabesque scrolls. Cut-steel panels like this one were a specialty in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in Iran, although few survive in such good condition.