Safar Fooladgar hits a piece of iron the size of my palm with his hammer. Like a drum rhythm, his hands evoke a dance: bang, swish, bang, swish,bang. Each time his hammer lands, another detail begins to form: it will soon become the face of a dragon. I am in a small south Tehran workshop of one of the last living masters of the art of alam, a heavy metal installation filled with intricate figurines and engravings, used in Shia Muslim ceremonies marking the martyrdom of Imam Hussein and those who fought by his side at the battle of Karbala in AD680 against an army loyal to Yazid, caliph of the emerging Muslim world.

Read More: Meeting the Last Masters of Alam, A Dying Art