Daulton Art

 

Antique Persian Ashura Banner

Ashura banner depicting Al-Mukhtar’s revenge for the killing of Imam Hussein

pigment on homespun cotton, consisting of a block-printed (qalamkar) border framing a hand-painted subject

length 11 ft. 3 in., height 10 ft. 6 in.

Esfahan, Iran

late 19th – early 20th century

provenance: collected in Iran by Jack Daulton

Inv. no. 4

Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, was murdered on the plain of Kerbala, Iraq, by his religious and political opponents in the 61st year of the Muslim era (680 A.D.).  Thereafter, Al-Mukhtar, the son of one of Muhammad’s associates and early followers, avenged the death of Imam Hussein by tracking down and killing the culprits.

The day on which Imam Hussein’s martyrdom occurred is called Ashura.  Hussein’s martyrdom is commemorated throughout the Shiite Islam world by a communal mourning ritual known as Ta’ziyeh.  See generally Peter J. Chelkowski, ed., Ta’ziyeh: Ritual and Drama in Iran (New York: New York Univ. Pr., 1979).  Paintings, known as Kerbala paintings, are part of the pageantry associated with the mourning ritual, sometimes taking the form of large banners, as in this rare example. 

This example is said to have been hung from the wall of a khanqah, a Sufi hall, on Ashura.