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    Sale 7571

    Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds

    8 April 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 201

    A VERY LARGE SAFAVID CUT STEEL PROCESSIONAL STANDARD ('ALAM)

    SIGNED BY MIR TAJ AL-DIN, SAFAVID ISFAHAN, IRAN, DATED AH 1122/1710-11 AD

    Price Realised  

    A VERY LARGE SAFAVID CUT STEEL PROCESSIONAL STANDARD ('ALAM)
    SIGNED BY MIR TAJ AL-DIN, SAFAVID ISFAHAN, IRAN, DATED AH 1122/1710-11 AD
    Rising from the faceted tapering banded shaft through a pierced hexagonal prism with inscription medallion in each face, the main drop-shaped panel with a band of spiralling vine behind a long inscription and the date 1122, an inner four-sided band enclosing a rotating central four-leaved panel, each with arabesque and floral interlace, the raised rope-pattern borders each terminating in pronounced dragons' heads, a pierced sphere above, the upper panel with pierced floral design within a strong border terminating in dragon-heads extending up to a very tall flat strip panel with upper pierced section and similar smaller finial, minimal restoration, on stand
    overall 116¼in. (295cm.) high


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    The inscriptions are:
    On the top: "He (God). God, Muhammad, 'Ali".
    In the middle: Qur'an, sura al-Hashr (LIX), vv.20 & 21, together with the date 1122
    In the lower part: Invocations to God.

    The signature "amal-e Mir Taj al-Din" is engraved on a small panel at the base of the upper section.

    This 'alam puts into context many of the fragmentary examples that have been published and are known. Many of those have long screw fixtures at one end or the other; this gives the full impact. It is one of a number of such standards that were made in the early 18th century during the reign of Shah Sultan Husayn where there appears to have been a revival of cut steel work. Many of the larger ones appear to have been products of the same school of design, with very similar work both in the cut steel panels, but also in the bands of floral engraving on the shaft, in the minor floral meander bands, and in the development of the four-sided elements so that the standard can be seen from the side. Closely related examples are in the Linden Museum, dated 1127 (Johannes Kalter, Linden-Museum Stuttgart Abteilungsführer Islamischer Orient, Stuttgart, 1987, frontis), and in the Tanavoli Collection dated 1123 (James W. Allan, Persian Steel, The Tanavoli Collection, Oxford, 2000, pl.E.7, p.275). Both are however only the central panels.

    In the catalogue of the Tanavoli example James Allan lists a number of further examples all of which can be linked to this group. He suggests that a number of them are from the same workshop, and that this was probably located in Isfahan. He also quotes the Russian visitor Kotov who visited Isfahan somwhat earlier in in 1624-5 who described the standards in some detail, describing the iron standards at the top of long bending poles that swayed through the assembled people as they moved (P. M. Kemp (trans. and ed.), Russian Travellers to India and Persia [1624-1798], Kotov, Yefremov, Danibegov, Delhi, 1959, p.25, quoted in Allan, op.cit., p.259). The tall upper "spear" on the present 'alam is presumably designed to sway in the same way as the earlier ones did on the top of their wooden poles.

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