The inscription on these doors reads: qala al-nabi al-ummi al-'arabi 'alayha al-salam , tark al-dunya ra's kull 'ibada sadaga , 'amal-e ustad rustam ibn ustad hajj najjar , be-ihtimam-e darvish 'alau al-din kardgar 892 ('The illiterate Arab Prophet, Peace be upon him said: Abandoning the temporal possession [or earthly concerns] is the beginning of all devotional service. He told the truth. The work of Ustad Rustam son of Ustad Haji, the carpenter, under the supervision of Darvish 'Alau al-Din Kardgar, 892 [1486-7 AD]')
The heavily forested province of Mazanderan in north Iran is renowned for its wood, notably the sweet-smelling khalanj wood (Léo Bronstein, "Decorative Woodwork of the Islamic Period", in A. U. Pope, A Survey of Persian Art, Oxford, 1938, p.2622). Bronstein notes that a considerable number of late fourteenth and fifteenth century wood carvings have survived in the region. He copies out in a footnote all the sixteen examples noted in 1928 by H. L. Rabino (Mazanderan and Astarabad, London, 1928) which date from 781/1379 to 906/1500. He goes on to say that the authorities are in the process of listing and photographing everything, a process which resulted in the multi-volume work by Sotoudeh.
These doors have a number of features that are found in others of this group. The fish-scale ground and very similar small floral sprays are encountered on the side of a cenotaph that is now in the Khalili Collection, signed by Shams al-Din Sari and dated 902/1496 (N.. Pourjavady (gen. ed.), The Splendour of Iran, London, 2001, vol.3, pp.218-9). That example, as here, is signed along the cross-bars. Two further related pairs of doors from the same region are in the Art and History Trust Collection (Abolala Soudavar, Art of the Persian Courts, New York, 1992, no.34, p.94) and in the National Museum, Tehran, signed and dated 846/1442 (The Arts of Islam, London, 1976, no.458, p.292). This beautifully preserved pair of wooden doors with the wonderfully strong geometry of the central panels retains a crispness of surface and in a number of places the remains of paint that was originally on the surface that makes them stand out as one of the most impressive survivals of all from this outstanding school of woodcarving.