The Grotto (the common name for the Mystic Order of Veiled Prophets in the Enchanted Realm, or MOVPER) wears a distinctive black fez with an even more distinctive emblem. The human head depicted on the Grotto fez is that of Mokanna (aka Hashim al-Muqanna, literally “Hashim the Veiled”), who was a warrior for the Abbasid general Abu Muslim in the 8th Century. Upon Abu Muslim’s death, Mokanna announced that he had inherited from his boss a sort of esoteric incarnation as God on Earth. This sounds like a sort of unorthodox take on the Ismaili concept of Nass, which is the manner in which the Imamate perpetuates itself through succession. This declaration by Mokanna, of course, didn’t go over well with his Abbasid bosses, and his movement was declared heresy. Mokanna kept himself veiled because (according to his followers) his beauty was blinding; his enemies, conversely, claimed he was simply too ugly to show his face.
The Grotto’s attachment to Mokanna comes not so much from the objective history, but rather by way of the poem titled “The Veiled Prophet of Khorassan,” by Thomas Moore, which appears in his 1817 book Lallah Rookh. The Veiled Prophet mentioned in the poem is Mokanna, and in line with the extreme popularity of the work and other Orientalist literature in the 19th and early 20th Centuries, the character found himself highly in vogue. The Grotto ritual dramas take the character and expand (and contract: the poem is somewhat lengthy!) upon some of the adventures and themes therein.
The emblem itself depicts Mokanna, unveiled, set atop the horns of the devil. It is very commonly misunderstood as a “Viking” head, a misinterpretation which is not entirely incomprehensible. The executive officer of a Grotto is styled as the “Monarch,” and Past Monarchs’ fezzes are distinguishable by the Mokanna face surrounded by an astonishing blaze of glory, making them some of the most brilliant and amazing fezzes ever conceived.