Date: early 18th century

Geography: Attributed to Iran

Medium: Silver with black inlay

Dimensions: H. 19 1/4 in. (48.9 cm)
W. 9 in. (22.9 cm)
D. 1 9/16 in. (4 cm)
Wt. 24.4 oz. (691.8 g)

Classification: Metal

Credit Line: Gift of Marilyn Jenkins, 1984

Accession Number: 1984.504.2


Under the Ottomans, Safavids, and Mughals, steel or silver standards were used in military, royal, and religious ceremonies. The talismanic power of this standard ('alam) is understood through the choice of the inscriptions. On one side, in the centermost circle, the Shi'i prayer venerates the Prophet Muhammad's family through his cousin and son-in-law 'Ali, his wife Fatima, and their sons Hasan and Husain, supported by the protective Throne verse (2:255). The other side honors the twelve imams, with the name of the twelfth imam enclosed in the central circle. As for the fingers, they are incomplete and display a combination of Qur'anic verses and popular Shi'i invocations. The power of the names of these religious figures, the Qur'anic verses, and the Shi'i prayers endow this standard with its amuletic properties.