Inscribed Seal, Jet; incised

Inscribed Seal

Object Name:
10th–11th century
Excavated in Iran, Nishapur
Jet; incised
H. 13/16 in. (2 cm)
W. 7/16 in. (1.1 cm)
DeptH. 5/16 in. (0.8 cm)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1939
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 453
Inscribed seals, used to validate documents or goods, were often worn on a string or chain. Some examples, whose inscriptions invoke God and no personal name, are believed to have doubled as talismans to provide protection to their bearers (although it has been argued that the religious formulas would have had no power until they were stamped and could be read forwards). Depending on the reading of this seal's inscription, it could fall into either category. One suggestion is that it is a common abbreviation of the phrase, "Rely on God;" another is that it reads, "Ali trusts in God", implying that the seal's owner was a man named 'Ali, or that he was Shi'i.
Inscription: Arabic: Tatuwa[kil] 'ala Allah (Re[ly] on God)
1936, excavated at Sabz Pushan in Nishapur, Iran by the Metropolitan Museum of Art's expedition; 1939, 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. 3a, p. 19, ill. (b/w).