Collection online


  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Alam (processional standard) for a Shi'i religious parade, made of gilded and openwork brass; with Arabic inscriptions.

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 18thC
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 127.5 centimetres
    • Width: 26.7 centimetres
    • Thickness: 4.5 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Script

        Nasta'liq and Thuluth
      • Inscription Position

        along the shaft of the `alam from top to join with body
      • Inscription Language

      • Inscription Transliteration

        Allah Jalla; Muhammad `Ali; Fatima; al-Hasan al-Husayn; `Ali Muhammad; Ja`far Musa; `Ali Muhammad; `Ali al-Hasan; `Ali Allah; Ya `Ali
      • Inscription Translation

        God is mighty;
      • Inscription Comment

        After 'God is mighty' in the roundel at the top of the `alam, thirteen of the fourteen Immaculate ones are listed in order. The 12th imam is not mentioned and the last roundel contains the names of `Ali and Allah.The largest roundel at the top of the pear-shaped end, is inscribed with the invocation 'Oh `Ali'.

        The inscriptions are from top to bottom as follows:

        Top roundel: Allah Jalla = “God is mighty”
        Long cartouche: Muhammad `Ali = The Prophet Muhammad and Imam ‘Ali b. Abi Talib (first Imam)
        Roundel: Fatima = Bibi Fatima (daughter of the Prophet Muhammad, wife of Imam ‘Ali and mother of Imams al-Hasan and al-Husayn)
        Long cartouche: al-Hasan al-Husayn = Imam al-Hasan and Imam al-Husayn (second and third Imams)
        Roundel: `Ali Muhammad = Imam ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn Zain al-‘Abidin and Imam Muhammad ibn ‘Ali al-Baqir (fourth and fifth Imams)
        Long Cartouche: Ja`far Musa = Imam Ja’far ibn Muhammad al-Sadiq and Imam Musa ibn Ja’far al-Kazim (or al-Kadhim) (sixth and seventh Imams)
        Roundel: `Ali Muhammad = Imam ‘Ali ibn Musa al-Reza (or al-Rida) and Imam Muhammad ibn ‘Ali Taqi al-Jawad (eighth and ninth Imams)
        Long Cartouche: `Ali al-Hasan = Imam ‘Ali ibn Muhammad Naqi al-Hadi and Imam Hasan ibn ‘Ali al-‘Askari (tenth and eleventh Imams)
        [NB: name of the twelfth Imam is missing: Imam Muhammad ibn Hasan al-Mahdi]
        Roundel: `Ali Allah = Imam ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (first Imam) and Allah

        Large roundel above the pear-shaped element: Ya `Ali = “Oh ‘Ali” (first Imam)

        Pear shaped element: Allah Muhammad Fatima `Ali al-Hasan al-Husayn = Allah and the names of Ahl al-Bayt (i.e. People of the Prophet’s House)
  • Curator's comments

    The fourteen 'immaculate ones' in Ithna 'Ashari or Twelver Shiism comprise the Prophet Muhammad, his daughter Fatima and the 12 Shi'i Imams:

    1.    Imam ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib
    2.    Imam al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali
    3.    Imam al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali
    4.    Imam ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn Zain al-‘Abidin
    5.    Imam Muhammad ibn ‘Ali al-Baqir
    6.    Imam Ja’far ibn Muhammad al-Sadiq
    7.    Imam Musa ibn Ja’far al-Kazim (or al-Kadhim)
    8.    Imam ‘Ali ibn Musa al-Reza (or al-Rida)
    9.    Imam Muhammad ibn ‘Ali Taqi al-Jawad
    10.    Imam ‘Ali ibn Muhammad Naqi al-Hadi
    11.    Imam Hasan ibn ‘Ali al-‘Askari
    12.    Imam Muhammad ibn Hasan al-Mahdi


  • Bibliography

    • Porter 2003 bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G34/dc37

  • Exhibition history


    2004 7 Jan-7 Apr, Kuala Lumpur, Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, 'Mightier than the Sword'
    2003 22 Mar-25 May, University of Melbourne, Ian Potter Museum of Art, 'Mightier than the Sword'

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Middle East

  • Registration number


Alam. Inscription. Made of gilded and openwork brass.

Alam. Inscription. Made of gilded and openwork brass.

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Object reference number: RRM10460

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