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"Coffin of Imam 'Ali", Folio from a Falnama (The Book of Omens) of Ja'far al-Sadiq

Object Name:
Folio from an illustrated manuscript
Date:
mid-1550s–early 1560s
Geography:
Iran, Tabriz
Culture:
Islamic
Medium:
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
Dimensions:
Painting: H. 22 5/16 in. (56.7 cm) W. 16 7/8 in. (42.8 cm) Mat : H. 28 in. (71.1 cm) W. 22 in. (55.9 cm) Frame: H. 30 1/2 in. (77.5 cm) W. 24 1/2 in. (62.2 cm)
Classification:
Codices
Credit Line:
Purchase, Francis M. Weld Gift, 1950
Accession Number:
50.23.2
  • Description

    This folio is from a manuscript of the Falnama (Book of Omens), an illustrated divinatory book. It depicts 'Ali, the first Shi'i imam, shown with a face veil and a flaming halo. He leads a camel with a coffin while two other men, his sons Hasan and Husain, watch from behind a hillside. According to Anatolian mystical thought, Imam 'Ali not only predicted his own death but also told his two sons that when he died, a veiled man would carry his coffin away on a camel for burial. He cautioned them not to question the man. When 'Ali’s prediction came true, Hasan and Husain could not resist asking the man’s identity and discovered that he was in fact their father, who was carrying his own body to the grave.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Definition: Persian
    Location: Above figures
    Translation by H. McAllister: Excellency Mortaza (Chosen) Ali, on him be peace! Excellency Imam Hasan Mojtaba (Chosen), on him be peace! (above camel) Coffin

    Marking: Above figures in Persian

  • Provenance

    [ E. Hindamian, Paris, until 1950; sold to MMA]

  • See also
    What
    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
451017

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