Ancient Near and Middle East

Ex Jean David-Weill Collection


Object :
Nº 1646
Medium :
Dimensions :
Diam: 8 cm (3.1")

Description :

Circular Shi'ite prayer “stone” in terra cotta with, in its center, an inscription in Persian and an embossed or molded decoration. Some parts are raised and irregular. The uneven glaze is due to age. It was generally the custom that the clay be taken from a holy place, such as Kerbala or Mashhad. The special characteristics of the earth from Karbala in Iraq were already known in the time of the prophet. Fine condition. Some scratches and missing parts to the glaze.

Names of a divine nature, such as those of the Prophet or the Shi'ite imams, are engraved on circular clay plaques. The Shi'ites ascribe protective or therapeutic powers to pious phrases and verses from the Koran. Certain letters in Arab writing can also take on an esoteric and magical dimension. During prayer, the Shi'ites place a clay slab beneath their forehead in order to follow the Prophet's sunnah. The letters thus mark their foreheads as a testimony to their devoutness.