Safavid, 17th century CE
Materials and technique
Openwork iron alloy
Length 22 cm
This steel plaque was most likely created as part of larger assembly of plates forming a composition framing a central cartouche with openwork decoration. This oblong shaped plate is executed almost entirely in openwork and with a thuluth inscription standing out against a background of three spiralling scrolls bearing stylised plant elements: symmetrical and more complex florets and leaves with two, three, and four lobes. The general effect evokes the multi-lobed medallions common in illuminated decoration and that contain the title of a work or its subdivisions. Here, the inscription is limited to the name of Fatima, the Prophet Muhammad’s only daughter and the wife of 'Ali, followed by the distinctive epithet al-zahra (the brilliant one). While its provenance is unknown, this object can be related to a set of ornamental plaques that are comparable in design, though longer (between 38 and 39 cm). Each of these invokes one or more of the Fourteen Immaculate Ones (chahardah ma'sumin) revered by the Twelver Shia: the Prophet Muhammad, his daughter Fatima, and the twelve Imams.
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