Name of Object:

Column with kufic inscription

Location:

Palermo, Italy

Holding Museum:

Regional Gallery of Sicilia, Abatellis Palace

Date of Object:

Around Hegira 5th / AD 11th century

Artist(s) / Craftsperson(s):

Fatimid epigraphist active around the AH 5th / AD 11th century.

Museum Inventory Number:

5101

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Sculpted marble.

Dimensions:

Height 166 cm, width 27 cm

Period / Dynasty

Fatimid

Provenance:

Uncertain, from near the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi, Palermo.

Description:

Column with a slight entasis (swelling)and an echinus (convex moulding). On the top of the shaft, within a rectangular scroll, there is an Arabic inscription in kufic characters that recites a basmala, according to M. Amari’s interpretation (see Bibliography): ‘In the name of God, the merciful and compassionate’. In the centre of the column, within a square scroll, is inscribed the shahada, or profession of faith: ‘There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet’. Until 1874, it was outside the main gateway of the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi, on the right. It originally came from a religious building, a mosque possibly transformed into an oratory, that was probably erected in the vicinity of the medieval church. There is another column in the Regional Gallery of Sicilia (inventory no. 5100) with very similar inscriptions, also from a church in Palermo, which no longer exists: San Giacomo la Mazzara. The austere Fatimid style, offering almost no decoration, was also adopted in Sicily and remained in use during the Norman era.

View Short Description

This column can be dated to the time of Islamic rule in Sicily by the kufic characters in the inscription that appears in the centre of the column inside a square scroll.

How date and origin were established:

Attributable to the period of Islamic domination in Sicily due to the presence of the inscription in kufic characters.

How Object was obtained:

Deposited with the Royal Museum of Palermo.

How provenance was established:

From documents that attest to the column originating from the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi.

Selected bibliography:

Amari, M., Le Epigrafi Arabiche di Sicilia: Iscrizioni Edili, New edition (ed. F. Gabrieli), Palermo, 1971, no. XX, pp.107–8.
Delogu, R., La Galleria Nazionale della Sicilia, Rome, 1977, pp.9, 58.
Scerrato, U.,“Arte Islamica in Italia”, in Gli Arabi in Italia, (eds. F. Gabrieli and U. Scerrato), Milan, 1979, pp.282–3 and fig. 179.

Citation of this web page:

Rita Bernini "Column with kufic inscription" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2017. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;it;Mus01_A;33;en

Prepared by: Rita BerniniRita Bernini

Storica dell'arte, ha lavorato a Palermo, presso la Galleria Regionale della Sicilia - Palazzo Abatellis e a Venezia presso la Soprintendenza per il Patrimonio Storico Artistico ed Etnoantropologico del Veneto.
Attualmente lavora presso il Museo Nazionale d'Arte Orientale "Giuseppe Tucci" e si occupa dell'Archivio delle Collezioni d'arte orientale in Italia, conservato presso il museo.
Ha pubblicato diversi articoli sull'arte siciliana, veneta e romana.

Copyedited by: Pier Paolo RacioppiPier Paolo Racioppi

Laureato e specializzato in storia dell'arte presso l'Università di Roma “La Sapienza” sta conseguendo il dottorato di ricerca in Storia e conservazione dell'oggetto d'arte e d'architettura presso l'Università di Roma TRE. Ha svolto attività seminariali presso l'Istituto di Storia dell'Arte all'Università La Sapienza di Roma e attualmente è docente di storia dell'arte del Rinascimento presso la IES at Luiss (Roma).
Ha pubblicato diversi contributi sulla tutela artistica, il collezionismo e le accademie d'arte, ed ha collaborato al Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani dell'Enciclopedia Treccani.

Translation by: Laurence Nunny
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen

MWNF Working Number: IT 45

RELATED CONTENT

 Artistic Introduction

 Timeline for this item

Islamic Dynasties / Period

Fatimids


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