Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Ceremonial Banner

Isma'il Kashani
Object Name:
dated A.H. 1107/A.D. 1695–96
Attributed to Iran, probably Kashan
Silk, metal wrapped thread; lampas
Textile: L. 70 1/2 in. (179.1 cm) W. 35 in. (88.9 cm) Mount: L. 73 3/4 in. (187.3 cm) W. 42 1/2 in. (108 cm) D. 7/8 in. (2.2 cm) Wt. 53 lbs. (24 kg)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1938
Accession Number:
Not on view
The inscriptions on this rare Persian ceremonial banner invoke divine protection and assistance. The lobed medallions enclose quotations from the Qur'an, lauding God as "the best Protector" and "Opener of Doors." Banners such as this were carried into battle, or borne by the faithful in religious processions. They appear in illustrated manuscripts such as the Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp and are described by travelers to Iran in the seventeenth century. The name of the maker, Isma'il Kashani, is inscribed in the center of the blue cartouche. The details of the textile indicate careful planning, beautiful execution, and luxury with no expense spared.
Inscription: Inscriptions in Arabic and Persian in thuluth and nasta‘liq scripts (from top to bottom):
Top right cartouche: (Qur’an, 37:172–73)

Top left cartouche, in Arabic:
وکفی بالله و کیلاً
And, God suffices for a Guardian

Large central cartouche: (Qur’an 110 and the date 1107)

Small yellow cartouche, in Arabic:
یا مفتح الابواب
O, Opener of Doors!

Central and outer portions, respectively, of two-color cartouche, in Arabic:
عمل العبد اسمعیل کاشانی
Work of the servant Isma‘il Kashani

And in Persian:
رایت فتح آید کردند تاریخ شروع
رایت نصر من الله بهر إتمامش علم ١١٠٧
The banner of triumph, the date of commencement [shuru‘] of work
The banner of God-given victory, the completion of the flag (‘alam) 1107
Bottom cartouche, in Arabic:
یا رفیع الدرجات
O, Sublime of Rank!

Marking: See link panel.
[ E. Beghian, London, by 1931–38; sold to MMA]
Cairo. Musée Arabe Du Caire. "L'Exposition Persane de 1931," 1931, no. 70.

London. Burlington House. "International Exhibition of Persian Art," January 7, 1931–February 28, 1931, no. 329.

Wilson, Arnold T. "7th January to 28th February, 1931." In Catalogue of the International Exhibition of Persian Art. 3rd. ed. London: Royal Academy of Arts, 1931. no. 329, p. 201.

Wiet, Gaston. L'Exposition Persane de 1931. Cairo, 1933. no. 70, p. 61.

Harari, Ralph, and Richard Ettinghausen. A Survey of Persian Art from Prehistoric Times to the Present, edited by Arthur Upham Pope. Vol. I-VI. London and New York: Oxford University Press, 1938. ill. v. VI, pl. 1070A.

Ekhtiar, Maryam, Sheila R. Canby, Navina Haidar, and Priscilla P. Soucek, ed. Masterpieces from the Department of Islamic Art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1st ed. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. no. 178, pp. 254-255, ill. p. 255 (color).

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