Historical period(s)
Safavid period, late 17th century
H x W x D: 14 x 38.5 x 0.2 cm (5 1/2 x 15 3/16 x 1/16 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Jewelry and Ornament, Metalwork


Iran, piercing, Safavid period (1501 - 1722), WWII-era provenance

Kitabchi (died 1976), Iran and Lausanne, Switzerland [1]

From 1997
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Mrs. Susanne Vallabh, Nyon, Switzerland through Hamid Atighetchi, London, in 1997 [2]


[1] According to Curatorial Note 3, Massumeh Farhad, July 7, 1997, in the object record.

[2] See note 1.

Previous Owner(s)

Mrs. Susanne Vallabh
Kitabchi died 1976


In seventeenth-century Iran, artists used steel not only for arms and armor, but also to create intricate decorative elements. This finely cut plaque is one from a series of ten intended to decorate the entrance of a tomb or commemorative structure. Crisply outlined, the inscription is written in an elegant thuluth script and juxtaposed against a delicate floral scroll.  The plaque refers to the twelfth and last imam of Shi'ism, the official religion of Iran, as a warrior and defender of the truth.  Known as the Mahdi (Savior), he is believed to return on the day of judgment.

Published References
  • Thomas Lawton, Thomas W. Lentz. Beyond the Legacy: Anniversary Acquisitions for the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. vol. 1 Washington, 1998. pp. 154-155.
Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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