Fragment of a Processional Standard ('Alam)

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY

About the work

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This ornamental fragment would have served as the center to a processional 'alam, which would have been mounted on a pole and adorned with fabrics during a ceremony. Calligraphic inscriptions on this work include prayers for imams associated with Shia beliefs, suggesting it may have been used in processions specifically related to this sect, such as the Tuwairij ceremony.Within the Tuwairij run or ceremony, devotees follow the path of the maternal cousins of al-Abbas, who along with Imam Husayn, died in the Battle of Karbala, a significant event in Shia Islam. This literal run through the city serves as an act of communal mourning.

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