Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Seal with Hebrew Inscription

Object Name:
10th–11th century
Excavated in Iran, Nishapur
Carnelian; incised
H. 1/16 in. (0.1 cm) W. 1/2 in. (1.2 cm) D: 1/16 in. (0.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1940
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 453
The Hebrew text on this seal gives the name of the seal’s owner, his father’s name, and the word "prepared" or "fashioned," followed by the letters y-h-. One proposal is that this is the Arabic name Yahya, but there are other known Hebrew seals that end with the phrase "May Yahweh have mercy" or "The work of Yahweh," which may be the phrase included here. We do not know whether the find of this seal testifies to the existence of a Jewish community in eleventh-century Nishapur, or if the seal had been preserved because its foreign letters were believed to ward off evil. Arabic seals with random Hebrew and Syriac words, as well as ancient seals to which Arabic phrases have been added, are both well documented.
Inscription: Hebrew: see cards or Islamic Jewelry p.20,
1937, excavated at Sabz Pushan in Nishapur, Iran by the Metropolitan Museum of Art's expedition; 1940, acquired by the Museum in the division of finds

Jenkins-Madina, Marilyn, and Manuel Keene. Islamic Jewelry in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1983. no. 3b, p. 19, ill. (b/w).

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