Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Pendant with Lion and Scorpion

Object Name:
10th century
Found Iran, Nishapur
Bronze; cast
Diam. 15/16 in. (2.4 cm) Th. 3/16 in. (0.5 cm)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1940
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 453
This circular metal pendant is believed to be a talisman, an object that provides protection for the wearer. The pseudo-writing on this pendant, though illegible, resembles the Arabic phrase that translates to, "There is no god but God." It is thought it had talismanic power because belief in this concept is one of the basic tenets of Islam. It has been suggested that the lion and scorpion represent the Zodiac symbols of Leo and Scorpio, which were thought to give their owners protection. But why these two signs in particular are found on so many objects is still unclear. The inclusion of esoteric symbols and images is what sets this pendant apart from later Islamic talismans, when signs with more specifically Islamic connotations, especially legible quotations from the Qur’an or magic squares with letters representing the names of God, became more common.
Inscription: Inscription is in psuedo-kufic
1939, excavated in Nishapur, Iran by the Metropolitan Museum of Art's expedition; 1940, acquired by the Museum in the division of finds

Allan, James. Nishapur: Metalwork of the Early Islamic Period. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1982. p. 70, ill. fig. 61 (b/w).

Jenkins-Madina, Marilyn, and Manuel Keene. Islamic Jewelry in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1983. no. 7a, p. 25, ill. fig. 7a (b/w).

Ekhtiar, Maryam, and Claire Moore, ed. "A Resource for Educators." In Art of the Islamic World. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012. pp. 176-177, ill. pl. 36 (color).

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