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Steel peacock
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Peacocks were symbols of beauty and courtly pleasures throughout the Islamic world. The birds were often allowed to wander around the gardens of noblemen, and models of peacocks ornamented the famous Peacock Throne, taken from India to Iran in 1739.

This fine steel peacock with turquoises for eyes may have decorated the crossbar of an alam, a standard carried during religious festivals in Iran. One of the most important of these is Ashura, held in honour of Husayn, the third Shi'i Imam, who was martyred in AD 680. Husayn, his brother Hasan and their father Ali (the fourth caliph and first Shi'i Imam) are depicted in the central medallion on the peacock's tail. The bird is also engraved with stylized inscriptions, princely hunting scenes, human busts and animals in a style typical of the Qajar period (1771-1924) in Iran.

Steel peacock

Iran, 19th century AD
Ht 89 cm
Gift of Mr Imre Schwaiger of Calcutta and Simla, through the Art Fund, in memory of the Imperial Durbar

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