Name of Object:

Cylindrical marble memorial stone with Arabic inscription in kufic characters


Trapani, Italy

Holding Museum:

Agostino Pepoli Regional Museum

Date of Object:

Hegira 515 / AD 1122

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Marble, inscription in relief.


Height 31 cm, diameter 13 cm


Unknown (probably Erice).


Cylindrical marble memorial stone, damaged at the bottom, undecorated but for a simple moulding on the top. The ten-line inscription runs around the cylindrical face. The kufic characters date from the AH 6th / AD 12th century.
The text of the inscription reads (translation by M. Amari – see Bibliography): ‘In the name of God the merciful and compassionate. God bless the Prophet Muhammad and his offspring and give them peace. This is the tomb of ‘Umar ibn Abû Bakr ash-Sha’iri (the barley seller), who died on Monday the eighth of the month of Dhul Hijjah of the year [five hundred] and fifteen’.
The Hegira year is missing the hundreds. On the basis of the coincidence of Monday and the eighth of the month, Amari suggests [six hundred] and fifteen, which would be AD 1219. Conversely, Répertoire (see Bibliography) suggests [five hundred] and fifteen, or AD 1122, which appears more justified in consideration of the style of the kufic characters.

View Short Description

The peculiar column shape of this stele suggests a very specific origin: southern Italy. Original examples of this type can be traced back to 10th-century Egypt.

Original Owner:

Count Francesco Hernandez, Erice (c. 1830)

How date and origin were established:

The year is given in the text of the inscription, and is confirmed by the style of the kufic characters.

How Object was obtained:

Purchased by the museum in 1921.

How provenance was established:

Its provenance is not known for sure, but it was part of Count Hernandez’ collection, which mostly consists of finds from the Erice area.

Selected bibliography:

Amari, M., Epigrafi Arabiche di Sicilia II: Iscrizioni Funerarie, new edition (ed. F. Gabrieli), Palermo, 1971, no. XXXIX, p.238.
Gabrieli, F. and Scerrato, U., Gli Arabi in Italia, Milan, 1979, fig. 262.
Répertoire Chronologique d’épigraphie Arabe, VIII, p.128.
Siculo-Norman Art: Islamic Culture in Medieval Sicily, p.220.

Citation of this web page:

Paolo Barresi "Cylindrical marble memorial stone with Arabic inscription in kufic characters" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2018.;ISL;it;Mus01_B;37;en

Prepared by: Paolo BarresiPaolo Barresi

Laureato in Archeologia, ha conseguito la specializzazione presso la Scuola Archeologica Italiana di Atene ed il Dottorato di ricerca in Archeologia Classica.
Autore di numerosi articoli e recensioni, ha pubblicato la monografia Province dell'Asia Minore. Costo dei marmi, architettura pubblica e committenza. Collabora da anni con l'Università di Roma “La Sapienza” ed ha insegnato presso la Cattedra di Archeologia e Storia dell'Arte del Vicino Oriente Antico dell'Università di Trapani.

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 51


 Artistic Introduction

 Timeline for this item

Islamic Dynasties / Period

Siculo–Norman Art

On display in

MWNF Galleries

Calligraphy Funerary objects


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