The inscription translates: 'and blessings on my master. This tomb is that of the two Imams, the important ones, the Sayyids, the Martyrs, the Pure (?), the Eloquent. They two are ....'
This beam is from an incomplete cenotaph that was sold in various sales in these Rooms in the early 1990s. At the time this beam was incorrectly described as being from the lower rather than the upper register of the decoration. The present lot has been cleaned since the earlier sale, clearly revealing the very strong colours of the original decoration.
There are few cenotaphs (turba) of the type in public collections, and in only one other of the published examples has the original painting survivied (Géza Fehérvári and Yasin Safadi (eds.), 1400 Years of Islamic Art, Khalili Gallery, London, 1981, no.150). The well-known cenotaph in the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence RI, (Arthur Upham Pope, A Survey of Persian Art, Oxford, 1938, pl.1472) is of the same form as this and according to its inscription was made in 1473 for a ruler of the Baduspanid dynasty of Mazanderan. A number of other cenotaphs in Mazanderan have been recorded, and it is possible that ours too comes from that province.