Name of Object:

Pair of inscriptions

Location:

Palermo, Italy

Holding Museum:

Regional Gallery of Sicily, Abatellis Palace

Museum Inventory Number:

5104 - 5105

Material(s) / Technique(s):

White marble with serpentine and porphyry inlay.

Dimensions:

Height 32 cm, width 185 cm; height 32 cm, width 192 cm

Period / Dynasty

Fatimid / Norman

Provenance:

Crypt of the Palatine Chapel, Norman Palace, Palermo.

Description:

Two fragments of an inscription in cursive Arabic characters (naskhi), found in the crypt of the Palatine Chapel in Palermo but probably originally from a different building. The translation of the inscription is as follows: ‘(Come close), kiss the corner of this (building) once you have embraced it and contemplated the beautiful things that it contains – To God the power and the duration. Of his creatures it is written that they will perish; of this we have the example and the comfort of his Prophet’. The reference to the Ka’ba – which the faithful flock around in order to kiss, out of respect, the black stone built into a corner – can be understood in terms of the Norman sovereigns’ attempts to identify with the divine authority. If the inscription does indeed come from one of the halls of the Royal Palace in Palermo (its presence was reported around the second half of the 19th century in the crypt of the Palatine Chapel but this was not its original location, and it may have come from the palace itself), it was probably King Ruggero (Roger) who took it to his residence to allude to the divinity of sovereigns through the traditional Fatimid link between palace and sanctuary.

View Short Description

These beautiful inscriptions in cursive naskhi characters were most likely intended to embellish and celebrate the beauty and splendour of the Royal Palace, to which they may have been taken by King Ruggero (Roger).

How date and origin were established:

Comparison of material and content with the two inscriptions in Messina at Santa Maria Annunziata and the cathedral.

How Object was obtained:

Donated to the Royal Museum of Palermo by King Victor Emanuel in 1863.

How provenance was established:

See Bibliography.

Selected bibliography:

Amari, M., Le Epigrafi Arabiche di Sicilia, new edition (ed. F. Gabrieli), Palermo, 1971, no. VI, p.46.
Aurigemma M. G., Il Cielo Stellato di Ruggero II: Il Soffitto Dipinto della Cattedrale di Cefalù, Cinisello Balsamo, 2004, p.28.
Delogu, R., La Galleria Nazionale della Sicilia, Roma, 1977, pp.10, 58.
Lagumina, B.,“Iscrizione Araba del Re Ruggiero Scoperta alla Cappella Palatina in Palermo”, Atti dell’Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Rendiconti della Classe di Scienze Morali, 1893, pp.231–4.
Scerrato, U., “Arte Islamica in Italia”, in Gli Arabi in Italia, (eds. F. Gabrieli and U. Scerrato), Milan, 1979, p.302 and figs. 175, 176.

Citation of this web page:

Rita Bernini "Pair of inscriptions" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2017. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;it;Mus01_A;44;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 62

RELATED CONTENT

 Artistic Introduction

 Timeline for this item

Islamic Dynasties / Period

Fatimids

Siculo–Norman Art


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