Dervish’s staff, steel
Iran; 18th-19th century
L: 68.5 cm
A dervish’s staff like this one was commonly used by members of Sufi brotherhoods. In certain Sufi orders, members practiced “the remembrance of God” and asceticism on long retreats, keeping a vigil as they prayed. During these vigils, the dervish used the staff to rest his head or arm as he warded off sleep.
At one end, the staff forms a calligraphic ornament that elegantly spells out the name Ali, referring to Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law, Ali ibn Abi Talib, the Shiites’ most important religious figure after the Prophet Muhammad.
Inv. no. 15/1994
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