Life – An Exalted Destiny – Aga Khan III
Coffin of Imam Ali from Falnama of Jafar al-Sadiq
Coffin of Imam ‘Ali, Folio from the Falnama (the Book of Omens) of Ja’far al-Sadiq
This folio is from a manuscript of the Falnama (Book of Omens), an illustrated divinatory book. It depicts ‘Ali, the first Shi’i imam, shown with a face veil and a flaming halo. He leads a camel with a coffin while two other men, his sons Hasan and Hussain, also shown with a face veil and a flaming halo, watch from behind a hillside. According to Muslim mystical thought, Imam ‘Ali not only predicted his own death but also told his two sons that when he died, a veiled man would carry his coffin away on a camel for burial. He cautioned them not to question the man. When ‘Ali’s prediction came true, Hasan and Hussain could not resist asking the man’s identity and discovered that he was in fact their father, who was carrying his own body to the grave.
Object Name: Coffin of Imam Ali – Folio from an illustrated manuscript from Falnama (The Book of Omens) of Ja’far al-Sadiq
Date: Mid-1550s–early 1560s
Geography: Iran, Tabriz
Medium: Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
Painting: H. 22 5/16 in. (56.7 cm) W. 16 7/8 in. (42.8 cm) Mat : H. 28 in. (71.1 cm) W. 22 in. (55.9 cm) Frame: H. 30 1/2 in. (77.5 cm) W. 24 1/2 in. (62.2 cm)
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