Circular clay prayer tablet made from the sacred earth of Karbala, with a small triangular incised design on the front, and a chip in the edge.

This tablet is made from a mixture of clay and soil, it is called a turbah in Arabic (تربة) or a mohr in Persian (مهر). Turbah are used by Shia Muslims during their daily prayers (Salat). The turbah is placed on the ground in front of the person praying who then leans forward and touches it with his or her head. The act of prostration (Sajda) upon the earth’s soil is of great significance in Muslim prayer. The use of turbah can be understood as an adaptation of this concept to prayer in places where the earth is covered with a floor. For Shia Muslims the most favoured soil is that of Karbala, the site of the martyrdom of Imam Husayn ibn Ali; however soil from anywhere may be used.

Collection Information

These objects are only a part of our collections, of which there are more than 350,000 objects. This information comes from our collections database. Some of this is incomplete and there may be errors. This part of the website is also still under construction, so there may be some fields repeated or incorrectly formatted information.

The database sometimes uses language taken from historical documents to help research, which may now appear outdated and even offensive. The database also includes information on objects that are considered secret or sacred by some communities.

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