232. The Emblem of the Sufi ‘Order of Fraternity’

Iran, circa 1909
Size: 4 × 4.5 cm

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The Anjoman-e Okhovat, the ‘Order of Fraternity’, was established in 1899 by Ali Khan Zahir al-Dawleh, son-in-law of Nasser al-Din Shah, and included the leading intellectuals of the time. The founding date of the Order, 1317 (ad 1899), is included in the Emblem, along with crossed axes, a begging-bowl and prayer-beads – typical attributes of the dervish.

The Order was concerned with social issues and supported constitutional reform. As a result, when Muhammad Ali came to the throne in 1907, he closed it down and even destroyed its premises. On his dethronement two years later, the Order was re-constituted by its original founder, Ali Khan al-Dawleh, and it was at this point that the Emblems were made, in copper, silver and gold, for sale to raise money for the poor. Only three examples were made of pink gold inset with diamonds. This one was made for Ali-Gholi Khan Bakhtiari, known as Sardar As’ad Bakhtiari, head of the Haft Lang tribal confederation, and one of the leaders of the Constitutional Revolution of 1909. It was acquired from his family by a private collector in France.