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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Tombstone of Shihab ad-Din

Photo: Elizabeth Mann

Tombstone of Shihab ad-Din


Islamic monuments to the dead range from simple tombstones to large-scale memorial buildings like the Taj Mahal. The rectangle in the center of this tombstone takes the form of a mihrab, the niche in the wall of a mosque that points to the holy city of Mecca, birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad. That wall indicates the direction (qibla) individuals must face when they pray. Muslim burial practice dictates that the body should be placed in the grave facing that same direction. Along with information on the deceased, the inscriptions around the mihrab depicted on this tombstone include verses from Islam’s primary scripture, the Qur'an.
27 x 20 1/4 × 3 3/4 in. (68.6 x 51.4 × 9.5cm)
Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection
Provenance: [Hagop Kevorkian, New York]; purchased from Mr. Kevorkian by Seattle Art Museum (Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection), June 7, 1944
Photo: Elizabeth Mann
Now on view at the Asian Art Museum


Exhibition HistoryRome, Italy, Palazzo Brancaccio, Exhibition Of Iranian Art, 1956.

Seattle, Washington, Henry Art Gallery, Mar. 10 - Apr. 15, 1978.

Portland, Oregon, Portland Art Museum, The Warp and Weft of Islam, Oriental Carpets and Weavings from Pacific Northwest Collections, July - Sept. 1979.

New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Court and Cosmos: The Great Age of the Seljuqs (as Tombstone of Shihab al-Din Abu 'Abdallah), Apr. 25-July 24, 2016. Text by Sheila R. Canby, et al. Cat. no. 204, p. 307.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Asian Art Museum, Boundless: Stories of Asian Art, Feb. 8, 2020 - ongoing.
Published ReferencesChevedden, Paul E. "A Samanid Tombstone from Nishapur," in Ars Orientalis, Vol. 16 (1986), p. 153-170.

"Handbook, Seattle Art Museum: Selected Works from the Permanent Collections." Seattle, WA: Seattle Art Museum, 1951, p. 15 (b&w)

Rogers, Millard B. Iranian Art in the Seattle Art Museum [Seattle Art Museum Engagement Book 1973]. Seattle: Seattle Art Museum. 1973. Reproduced pl. 28.

Foong, Ping, Xiaojin Wu, and Darielle Mason. "An Asian Art Museum Transformed." Orientations vol. 51, no. 3 (May/June 2020): pp. 54-55, reproduced fig. 12 (installation view).

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

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