Inscribed seal, 10th–11th century
Found at Iran, Nishapur, Sabz Pushan
Jet; incised; H. 13/16 in. (2 cm), W. 7/16 in. (1.1 cm), D. 5/16 in. (0.8 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1939 (39.40.141)
Seals such as this, which could be worn on a string or chain, serve the practical function of validating documents or goods. But some seals that only include phrases invoking God and no personal name are believed to have doubled as talismans because they were worn on the body and provided protection to their bearers (although some have argued that the religious formulas have no power until they are stamped and can be read forwards). Depending on the reading of this seal's inscription, it could fall into either category. One suggestion is that it has a common abbreviation of the phrase "Rely on God." Another reading suggests that the seal reads "'Ali trusts in God," implying that the seal's owner was a man named 'Ali.