Name of Object:

Fragment of marble funerary stele with Arabic inscription in kufic characters


Trapani, Italy

Holding Museum:

Agostino Pepoli Regional Museum

Date of Object:

First half of the Hegira 5th / AD 11th century

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Marble, inscription in relief.


Max. height 20 cm, max. width 16 cm, depth 6.3 cm




Fragment of the top right corner of a rectangular marble slab. The inscription ran along the edge of the slab, delimited by an upper and a lower fillet, according to V. Grassi, who recently published the inscription. Comparison with similar stelae from Malta suggest that the lower part of this piece is missing. The inscribed area would have been crowned by a horseshoe arch, evoking the mihrab niche. The space between the extrados of the arch and the top right corner of the stele (the only part to have survived) is decorated with a three-petal flower and a central almond motif similar to that of stele no.1, but in a more divided and schematic style. The kufic characters are adapted to this style and can be attributed to the first half of the AH 5th / AD 11th century. The inscription in the inscribed area has been lost, but some of the one that ran around the sides has survived (ascending section on the right-hand side and the top section) which must have reproduced a passage from the Qur’an (Sura 3 verse 185) often used in sepulchral inscriptions: ‘…then you receive your recompense on the Day of Resurrection …’.

View Short Description

Fragment of funerary stele. Stelae usually contain inscriptions of typical formulas taken from the Qur’an, sometimes accompanied by professions of the faith, devotion and virtues of the deceased.

Original Owner:

G.M. Di Ferro collection, Trapani (c. 1830)

How date and origin were established:

On the basis of the style of the characters and the decoration.

How Object was obtained:

Transferred from the Fardelliana Library in Trapani.

How provenance was established:

It was one of ten inscriptions found in the Di Ferro collection, first given to the Fardelliana Library and then to the Pepoli Museum. In this case, however, it is not possible to show that it comes from Trapani; indeed comparisons take it away from Sicily, to Malta.

Selected bibliography:

Grassi, V., “Iscrizioni del V-VI Secolo dell’Egira nel Museo Pepoli di Trapani”, Anaquel de Estudios Arabes 8, 1997, p.135, no. 5.

Citation of this web page:

Paolo Barresi "Fragment of marble funerary stele with Arabic inscription in kufic characters" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2018.;ISL;it;Mus01_B;49;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 70


 Artistic Introduction

 Timeline for this item

Islamic Dynasties / Period

Siculo–Norman Art

On display in

MWNF Galleries

Calligraphy Funerary objects


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