Finial with Inscription "Ya Khafar" ("Oh, Protector!")
Steel; inlaid with gold on front and silver foil overlay on reverse
H. (with brackets) 7 1/2 in. (19 cm)
H. (w/o brackets) 6 7/8 in. (17.5 cm)
Gr. W. (at bottom) 4 3/4 in. (12 cm)
Purchase, Richard S. Perkins Gift, 1982
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 462
Finials such as this example likely came from the tops of standards ('alams) carried in Shi'i processions to commemorate the martyrdom of Husain, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, at the battle of Karbala. The 'alams signify the battle standards carried by Husain and his band of supporters. These finials are datable to the seventeenth century, a period in which the Shi'i religious orthodoxy was particularly pronounced in Iran.
Inscription: Arabic; transliteration: "Ya khafar"; translation: "Oh, Protector (or Defender)!" (one of the most beautiful names of God, but rarely used, and outside the traditional 99 names).
[ Nasser D. Khalili, London, until 1982; sold to MMA]