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7. Post-Alamut period

The post-Alamut is the longest period in the Ismaili history, and so is most obscure and dark due to the dearth of the historical informations. It almost covers 580 years for 18 Imams, who lived in different villages and towns in Iran. They had no their own rule and as a result, no need was apparently felt for their banner. The longest era of post-Alamut witnessed Iran dominated by the rules of Illkhanids (1265-1335), Taymurids (1370-1414), Safavids (1500-1736), Afsharids (1736-1750), Zands (1750-1779) and Qajarids (1779-1925).

Hitherto, we have surveyed that the banner or flag had been used mostly in the battlefields on different occasions and periods. Now, the period ahead was of peace, therefore, the outstanding services of the heroes were symbolized in different manners. The Ismaili flag reflects same massage to the followers through the agency of green and red colours.

It appears that the representation of the Zulfikar or two-edged sword of Ali bin Abu Talib had been the most common in the banners of the Iranian rules. The emblems of the lion and the sun rising behind it or a variety of colours or flags had been adopted along with the different symbols of the Prophet and his descendants. The Ismailis resided in different garbs according to the demand of the time and practised taqiya, therefore, they generally said to have assumed their traditional green and red banners in their villages, where it was also popular in other classes of the people. It however appears that in Kahek, Anjudan and Shahr-i Babak, the green and red banners were flown mostly on the masoleums of the Imams.

The Ismaili Pirs and Sayeds were active in the Ismaili mission in India. Most of them composed the religious hymns (ginans) for the new converts. These ginans however contain the words nishan(emblem), jarad dajja (red banner), tambal nishan (trumpet and emblem), nejadhari (standard-bearer), etc.

Imam Gharib Mirza (1493-1496)had left Shahr-i Babak in Iran and settled in his new headquarters, called Anjudan. The scrunity of the sources suggests that the Ismaili mission system after the fall of Alamut's rule was re-organised for the first time in Anjudan. According to the new system, the Imam was followed in the rank by a single hujjat, the chief missionary. The mu'allim (teacher), the head of the mission in a particular region, worked under the hujjat. The mu'allim was assisted by ma'dhum-i akbar (the senior licentiate) and ma'dhum-i asghar (junior licentiate). These Ismaili missionaries used special green and red banners of small size in different regions to identify themselves before the local Ismailis. In some regions, special emblems in the banner were also included where they found no congenial atmosphere.

The Indian Ismailis were also fluttering big green and red banners during special occasions. It was a common practice to paint the boiled eggs with green and red colours on the day of Navroz. It suggests that the green and red had become the accepted colours among the Ismailis in India. Most of the scribes of the ginans (religious hymns) of 18th century used to paint decorative boundaries in their copies with green and red colours, whose examples are still accessible.

To mark a pious person's tomb in the wilderness, most of the Ismailis in Sind and Kutchh in India often put small green banners around or on top of a heap of stones.


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