An Introduction to Persian Seals
Special Reference to Devotional Seals from an Eighteenth-Century Manuscript
Keywords:Leylī va Majnῡn, Khosrow va Shīrīn, Nāmī Isfahānī, Ali, Persian seals, Qajar manuscript
This article provides an overview of formation and transformation of Persian seals in the course of about 6000 years, with a focus on a group of seals, devotional in nature, from an interesting eighteenth-century Persian manuscript preserved at the Syed Muhammad Naquib Al-Attas’ (SMNA) Library, ISTAC-IIUM. The paper is divided in four main sections. First, “Pre-Islamic Persian Seals,” which provides a concise account of the variety of ancient seals from Iran’s historical sites. Second, “The First Seal of the Islamic World,” which is an introduction to the origination of using seals in the Islamic world that goes back to the early years of Islam, when Prophet Muhammad used his personal seal to authenticate the official letters that were prepared on his behalf. Third, “Persian Seals of the Islamic Era,” which is an overview of the seals in Persian language that became widespread after the advent of Islam. And fourth, “Collection of Seals in Nami’s Manuscript,” which is a detailed assessment of forty-three seal impressions from seven seals in a single manuscript. The inscriptions on the seals are devotional in nature, which is a departure from the traditional function of manuscript seals.