This catalogue is the first on the outstanding collection of Arabic and Persian seals and amulets in the British Museum, by a specialist in the field.
The first part focuses on the 638 Arabic, Persian and Indian seals covering material from the 8th to the 20th century. The introduction covers seal practice in different periods and levels of society; the role of the seal and the "alama" or motto, the use of figural representation on the seals, seal engravers, the forgery of seals and the importance of the stones used are described. The features of the seals themselves, in particular the palaeography and dating of early Islamic seals, some grammatical features of the inscriptions, and the range of designs present on the seals are analysed. The types and form of Islamic names, the range of phrases that commonly appear and the characteristics of later seals are also discussed. The second part focuses on 170 amulets in the collection preceded by an introduction to the subject. Research into the engraving techniques is presented with analysis of the stones used.
This publication will be a standard work of reference for years to come.
Venetia Porter is curator of the Islamic collections in the Department of the Middle East in the British Museum. She has published widely on different aspects of Islamic art. She curated the British Museum exhibition Word into Art in 2006, with its associated catalogue.