Drawing thumbnail 1
Not currently on display at the V&A


Place of origin

Object details

Object type
Materials and techniques
Ink on paper
Brief description
Template for part of an inscription on the tomb of the Qajar statesman Manuchihr Khan Mu‘tamad al-Dawlah in Qum, Iran; ink on blue paper; Iran, dated 1263 in the Muslim calendar, equivalent to AD 1847. Part of the “Mirza Akbar drawings” (see below), it is from the same inscription as AL.8325:2.
Physical description
Half-line of Persian poetry and date written in black ink on blue paper cut in the shape of a cartouche. The template was prepared for pouncing by pricking the outline of the inscription with a needle.

  • Height: 21.1cm
  • Width: 60.6cm
Marks and inscriptions
جایگاه معتمد دایم بفردوس برین 1263 (This half-line of poetry is a chronogram, i.e. the numerical values of its letters add up to 1263, the year commemorated.)
[May] the dwelling-place of Mu‘tamad ever [be] in the highest [level of] paradise!
Gallery label
  • 1 Template for inscription Iran, probably Tehran 1846 The text is a line of poetry in Persian. The two half-lines were written in separate cartouches (here reversed). They praise the late Fath Ali Shah (died 1834) and wish him a place 'in the highest heaven'. The outline of the inscription was pricked with a needle. A powder, often charcoal, was passed through the holes, transferring the outline to the surface below. Ink on paper Museum no. AL.8325(18/11/2011-2013)
  • Persian Decoration. Working Drawings formerly used by MIRZA AKBER, Architect to the Court of Persia. Sheet No. 48. - Two transfers, fine examples of Persian writing, dated A.D. 1827.(1877)
Object history
Fuchsia Hart reports that this template bears part of the inscription placed around the base of the dome in the interior of the mausoleum of Manuchihr Khan Muʿtamad al-Dawlah, a Qajar statesman who died in AH 1264, equivalent to AD 1847-8; the mausoleum stands in the first court of the shrine of Fatimah Maʿsumah in Qum. She writes that when the inscriptions from the shrine were published in 1976, most of the tomb had fallen into disrepair, but this half-line remained in situ. It seems to have been transferred to the building without the date, but the line is itself a chronogram for the year 1263.

On Manuchihr Khan, see Nobuaki Kondo, "The Vaqf and the Religious Patronage of Manuchihr Khan Muʿtamad al-Dawlah", in Religion and Society in Qajar Iran, ed. Robert Gleave, London and New York, 2005, pp. 227-44.

For a portrait of Manuchihr Khan, see V&A:763-1876.

Moya Carey reports that this paper template comes from a large collection of assorted architectural designs on paper from 19th-century Iran. They were acquired by the South Kensington Museum (now the V&A) in 1875 from Caspar Purdon Clarke, an architect who later became the Museum’s director. In 1874-5 Clarke was in Tehran, working on the new British embassy buildings there. He acquired the designs from two master builders working on the site in exchange for teaching them European building techniques. The two men, Ostad Khodadad and Ostad Akbar, explained that the designs had belonged to a deceased architect called Mirza Akbar; they are therefore generally referred to as the “Mirza Akbar drawings”. The group of designs includes two complete scrolls, and most of the remaining 236 drawings were also once included in scrolls, which Clarke cut up, pasting them on boards. They have been removed from the boards for conservation reasons.

Bibliographic reference
Moya Carey, Persian Art. Collecting the Arts of Iran for the V&A (London: V&A, 2018) pp.47-67.
Other number
8325 - Previous number
Accession number

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Record createdJune 25, 2009
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