ʿALAM VA ʿALĀMAT (Ar. ʿalāma), banner carried in religious processions. In both Arabic and Persian the word ʿalam (pl. aʿlām) conveys various senses connected with the general meaning of a distinctive sign or mark. In Persian the word had early carried the meaning of ensign (nešān) and of standard or flag. The same meanings may also be rendered by the word ʿalāma (pl. ʿelām, ʿalāʾem, ʿalāmāt), which derives from the same root.