London, United Kingdom
Khalili Family Trust – Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art
AD 17th century
Textile; banner; talismanic banner; magic squares
Black and red ink, coloured pigments and silver on plain cotton; old repairs in green-dyed cotton
340 x 277cm
The banner combines Qur’anic verses, invocations and religious sayings with numeric magic squares. The main inscription band, written in a script with elements of thuluth and naskhi, is sura al-Fath (XLVIII) verses 1–16, in part. It is framed along the edges of the banner by a series of lobed medallions reserved on a silver ground and enclosing magic squares. At the are a large 101x101 magic squareand a 41x41 square. The remaining spaces are filled by calligraphic cartouches, symmetrically arranged along the vertical axis. Their texts include the shahada; the basmala; Qur’nic verses; some of the asma’ al-husna (‘the Names of God’); the names of the Prophet Muhammad and ‘Ali (arranged so as to suggest a human face); and the so-called nadi ‘Aliyyan (‘Call upon ‘Ali’) quatrain. The arrangement of the cartouches in the lower half of the banner is reminiscent of a standard top (‘alam). Also represented is dhu’l-faqar, the bifurcated sword given by the Prophet Muhammad to ‘Ali.
A number of the calligraphic cartouches on the banner have parallels in both Ottoman and Indian art, but the combination seen here, coupled with the colours used and the script of the main inscription, point to a Deccani origin.
Leoni, F., Power and Protection. Islamic Art and the Supernatural (exhibition catalogue), Oxford ,2016, pp.66–7.
Nassar, N., in Textiles, Carpets and Costumes, London: The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, volume 14, Part Two, 2018. [In preparation / forthcoming].
Tezcan, H., Tılsımlı Gömlekler, Istanbul, 2011: no.54, p.184 (comparative item).
Nahla Nassar "Talismanic banner" in Explore Islamic Art Collections , Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. http://www.museumwnf.org/thematicgallery/thg_galleries/database_item.php?itemId=objects;EPM;uk;Mus21;41;en&id=amulets_and_talismans
Prepared by: Nahla Nassar
MWNF Working Number: UK1 41