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TAGS: British Museum and British Library; Edward Granville Browne; Lawh-i-Malikih (Tablet to Queen Victoria); Loulie A. Mathews (Loulie Mathews); Star Tablet of the Bab; Wanden La Farge
LOCATIONS: London; United Kingdom
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Anecdote about the discovery of the Star Tablet of the Báb at the British Museum in London.
Mirrored from

Tablet of the Báb found in British Museum

by Loulie Mathews (published as Loulie A. Matthews)

published in Star of the West, no. 49, page 3
I think the friends will be interested in hearing of our finding the Star Tablet of the Báb.

A year ago, while in London, Wanden La Farge and I went every day to the British Museum to compile a list of original Baha’i manuscripts. Each morning at ten o’clock we knocked on the little hidden door of the Oriental room. An iron bar was pulled back from within and we found ourselves in the midst of impressive Oriental scholars completely absorbed in poring over ancient manuscripts. So deep and profound was the silence that, to ask for what was necessary, one was obliged to lower the voice to a shadowy whisper. After several days of cataloging and not being able to find any trace of the Tablet to Queen Victoria, the head of the department suggested that we might ask for an interview with the Curator of the Museum. This was a special privilege which was granted, the Director receiving us with the utmost cordiality and showed a lively interest in our quest. He assured us that the Tablet we so specially sought had never been in the British Museum, but that, after the death of Prof. E.G. Brown, his heirs had sent one original Baha’i manuscript to the Museum. This, however, was not written by either Baha’u’llah or ‘Abdu’l-Baha so it might not be of value to us at this time. This news was a great disappointment until he added, “It is in the hand of ‘Ali Muhammad, the Báb.” At this unexpected and wonderful news we asked if it was possible to see it. It is too valuable to be on view, he replied, but I will send for it. It proved to be a single sheet of heavy vellum inscribed in the delicate handwriting of the Báb, illuminated in exquisite colors and so written as to form a star.

The Curator pronounced it an almost miraculous piece of penmanship and a perfect specimen of oriental writing. As such a possession could not be taken from the Museum the Curator offered to have it photographed for us and thus enabled us to bring it to America.

It has not been officially translated but the Oriental believers who have looked at it, say it contains derivations of the word Baha’i. During my long illness and absence from New York it was not unwrapt but now we shall have copies made and placed on sale with the Publishing Committee, so that all the friends may share in this priceless treasure.

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