Inventory no.: 1135

Islamic Talismanic Nail


Talismanic Architectural Iron Nail Engraved with Persian & Urdu

Northern India

circa 1900

length: 15cm

This square-sided nail or peg is of iron. One end is sharp for driving into wood; the other is blunt. All sides are engraved with fine script, most probably Persian and Urdu, and offer Koranic and talismanic or protective blessings to protect the owner of the house, the house, his wife and children.

New dwellings in northern India, Kashmir and parts of Persia were constructed with a nail such as this being driven into a rafter or some other suitably important beam to serve as a protective device for the occupants thereafter.

The likely presence of Urdu alongside Persian suggests that this nail comes from northern India.

Sotheby’s London in its ‘Arts of the Islamic World’, October 13, 2004 sale offered an almost identical nail as lot 141. This nail was described as ‘A rare engraved steel talismanic rod, Persia, circa 18th century’. It carried an estimate of £6,000-£8,000. It did not sell. Our example is priced at £300.


UK art market

Inventory no.: 1135