The inscription on the above blade refers to a famous sword, known as 'zulfiqar', which belong to ‛Ali, cousin and son-in-law to the Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.). (©Birmingham Museums Trust, 1954S00260)

On the sword blade the inscription reads: 'There is no brave young man but 'Ali, and there is not sword but 'zulfiqar'. The word for 'brave young man' is 'futuwwa', which also has connotations of chivalry or chivalrous actions. (Translated by Dr Dimitris Kastritsis, University of St Andrews).

On the handle is the monogram, or 'tugra', of one of the Ottoman sultans.


Shield Iran, circa 1750 CE (AH 1163) Steel chiseled with gold overlay Birmingham Museums Trust (1887M921.2) ©Birmingham Museums Trust

Shield
Iran, circa 1750 CE (AH 1163)
Steel chiseled with gold overlay
Birmingham Museums Trust (1887M921.2)
©Birmingham Museums Trust

Gold wire, laid over the surface of the metal, was used to create the inscription and to highlight the areas around the quotations from the Qur’an engraved on this shield. Skilled craftsmen, working in cities from Lahore to Istanbul, used these techniques to create a range of beautiful metalwork, from arms to domestic items such as cups and trays.


Rachid Koraïchi ‘Les Priants’ (Those at Prayer), 2008 CE Steel Courtesy of October Gallery, London. ©Rachid Koraïchi, courtesy of October Gallery, London.

Rachid Koraïchi
‘Les Priants’ (Those at Prayer), 2008 CE
Steel
Courtesy of October Gallery, London.
©Rachid Koraïchi, courtesy of October Gallery, London.

Engaging and collaborating with skilled traditional craftsmen is a feature of Rachid Koraïchi’s work. The symbols in this sculpture are inspired by letters and create a language personal to the artist. The sculpture has a human appearance and is one of a series symbolising people praying. In its entirety the group signifies the many different peoples on earth.