The inscription on this panel translates 'In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful. This is the tomb of the noble lady, the gracious, the virtuous Fatima, daughter of Shuja' al-..., may God have mercy on her and illuminate her tomb and sanctify her soul and her tomb, by the truth of Muhammad and his family'.
This panel is the end of what must have been a massive cenotaph, even more remarkable for the period when it is considered that the person being honoured was a lady.
A single calligraphic beam sold in these Rooms 17 April 2007, lot 1, had a great many similarities to the present panel and could well have come from the same workshop. As here the script was well rounded and vigorous, set against scrolling tendrils which unusually do not in any way attempt to form spirals, meandering instead in their own idiosyncratic way around the lettering. Another related piece, although not so similar as our beam, was a panel that was sold at Sotheby's 18 April 2007, lot 110. The script there was not as vigorous or rounded, but the background scrolls were similar. That panel also had a central geometric interlace design where the polygonal panels, as here, stood well proud of the surface, each being carved with a single floral or palmette element, again similar to but not as varied as the treatment here.
The Sotheby panel was dated "circa 15th century" but it seems more probable that it was earlier. The lower and side frame design there was similar to panels of the minbar at the Masjid-i Jami in Nain (A. U. Pope, A Survey of Persian Art, Oxford, 1938, pl.1464B). The Nain minbar's date is not complete, but begins with the digit 7, so from the 14th century AD. The calligraphy in the present panel, as well as that at Sotheby's, is earlier and stronger than that of the 14th century. It has much more in common with the middle naskh border on a carved marble tombstone in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston that bears the date muharram 533/September 1138 (Pope, op. cit., pl.520). The background scrolls on that tombstone also share many similarities with those seen here, but they are more inclined to form spirals. Even more similar is the inscription band of a carved stone mihrab which, although it is not dated, clearly relates to the group of tombstones from Yazd dating from the 6th/12th century (Pope, op. cit., pl.519C and E).