Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Tile with Niche Design

Object Name:
Tile with niche design
dated A.H. 712/A.D. 1312–13
Attributed to Iran, Sultanabad
Stonepaste; molded and monochrome glazed
H. 33 1/2 in. (85.1cm) W. 20 in. (50.8 cm) D. 3 in. (7.6 cm) Wt. 74 lbs. (33.6 kg)
Credit Line:
Gift of V. Everit Macy, 1925
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 455
Evoking an architectural mihrab niche, the design of this tile includes columns topped by a multilobed arch. The vigorous calligraphic inscriptions that surround and fill the interior of the "niche" comprise an evocation to the Chahar‑dah Ma'sum (Fourteen Infallibles)—naming the twelve Shi'i Imams and the family of the Prophet Muhammad. The date of this tile places it within the reign of the Ilkhanid ruler Sultan Uljaitu, who was known to have embraced Shi'i Islam.
Inscription: In Arabic; in naskh script; on outer band, from lower right corner:
"Oh God, pray for Muhammad the Chosen, Ali the Favored, Fatima the Radiant, Hasan the Elect, Husayn the Martyr of Karbala, (Ali) the Most Beautiful of the Believers, (Muhmmad) al-Baqir, (Ja'far) al-Sadiq, (Musa) al-Kazim, (Ali) al-Riza..."

Enclosed in the niche:
"...(Muhammad) al-Taqi, (Ali) al-Naqi, (Hasan) Askari, and (al-Mahdi) the Standing Proof, the Successor, the Imam, the Master of the Time. Blessings of God upon them all. In the year twelve and seven hundred (A.D. 1312-13)."
V. Everit Macy, New York (until 1925; gifted to MMA)
New York. Hagop Kevorkian Fund Special Exhibitions Gallery. "Persian Tiles," May 4, 1993–January 2, 1994, no. 30.

Dimand, Maurice S. A Handbook of Mohammedan Decorative Arts. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1930. p. 135.

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. no. 159, v. II, p. 1690.

Carboni, Stefano, and Tomoko Masuya. Persian Tiles. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1993. no. 30, p. 35, ill. (b/w).

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