Inscribed Seal

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.

Inscribed Seal, Jet; incised

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