Inscription panel (translation: Verily, God and His Angels send blessings on the Prophet (33:56))
This plaque bearing an Arabic inscription was once part of a larger decorative ensemble said to have adorned the royal tomb of the Safavid Shah Suleyman II, who ruled Iran from 1666 to 1693. It is one of the finest known examples of pierced steel, an extremely difficult medium that was pushed to its highest artistic possibilities in Iran during the reign of the Safavids (1501-1722).
The plaque appears to have been formed from a forged sheet of steel, and openings created by using drills, saws, and files. Safavid metalworkers produced their finest openwork in steel, exploiting to the utmost that metal's hardness and tensile strength.
Although mastery of openwork steel was a Safavid artistic triumph, this panel transcends any particular dynasty or region, for its design elements are universal in the Islamic world: a verse from the Koran set against a spiraling arabesque. Working within a conservative artistic tradition, the designer of this panel has created a masterful composition that suggests both harmonious balance and continual movement.
Artform: Decorative Arts: METALWORK, Pre-20th Century
Artist: Unknown. Safavid Dynasty
Artist Dates: 1502-1736
Country/Culture: Islamic: Iran
Period: 17th century
Medium: forged steel, cut and pierced
Size: 35 x 27 cm
Museum: Cleveland Museum of Art
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