Name of Object:

Inscription in four languages

Location:

Palermo, Italy

Holding Museum:

Zisa Museum

About Zisa Museum, Palermo

Date of Object:

AD 1149

Artist(s) / Craftsperson(s):

Siculo-Arabic artist.

Museum Inventory Number:

Elenco San Giovanni n. 11

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Marble with decorative mosaic tessera of marble and semi-precious stones.

Dimensions:

Height 33 cm, width 40 cm

Period / Dynasty

Norman

Provenance:

Church of San Michele Arcangelo (de Indulciis), Palermo.

Description:

Hexagonal marble tombstone in four languages divided into five panels, of which the centre one bears, inscribed within a circle, a Greek cross in polychrome stone inlay with the initials IC XC NI KA, ‘Jesus Christ conquers’. Above the cross there is an inscription in Hebrew, on the lower side an Arabic inscription, on the left a Latin inscription and to the right an inscription in Greek. The inscriptions refer to the death of Anna, mother of Grisanto, a priest of the Norman sovereign Ruggero (Roger), who died in 1148 and was buried in the great jami (subsequently Palermo Cathedral) and from there taken by her son to the Church of San Michele Arcangelo and the chapel known as Sant’Anna, built by Grisanto in 1149. The dates in the four versions, each calculated according to the respective calendar, are 1148 Latin, 4904 Hebrew, 6658 Greek and 543 Arabic. There is another tombstone at the Zisa Museum in just three languages (excluding Hebrew) commemorating the death of Drogo, father of the priest Grisanto, also buried in the Chapel of Sant’Anna in 1153. The inscription comes from the Church of San Michele Arcangelo near to the Casa Professa dei Gesuiti, which had many inscriptions, including Latin ones, and is now stored in the municipal library.

View Short Description

This tombstone, in Arabic, Hebrew, Greek and Latin, commemorates the death of Anna, mother of Grisanto, priest to the Norman King Ruggero (Roger). Each of the dates in the four versions, calculated using the appropriate calendar, corresponds to the Latin year 1148.

How date and origin were established:

Date given on the inscription.

How Object was obtained:

Deposit from the Royal Museum of Palermo.

How provenance was established:

From historical documents.

Selected bibliography:

Amari, M., Le Epigrafi Arabiche di Sicilia: Epigrafi Sepolcrali, New edition (ed. F. Gabrieli), Palermo, 1971.
Bucaria, N., Luzzati, M. and Tarantino A. (eds.), Ebrei e Sicilia, Palermo, 2002, p.169.
Di Marzo, G. and Ferro, G., Guida Istruttiva per Palermo e Suoi Dintorni, Palermo, 1857.
L'Età Normanna e Sveva in Sicilia, Palermo, 1994, pp.146–7,
Morso, S., Descrizione di Palermo Antico Ricavata Sugli Autori Sincroni e i Monumenti del Tempo, Palermo, 1827.
Scerrato, U.,“Arte Islamica in Italia”, in Gli Arabi in Italia, (eds. F. Gabrieli and U. Scerrato), Milan, 1979, pp.302 and fig. 173.
Siculo-Norman Art: Islamic Culture in Medieval Sicily. pp.78, 97.

Citation of this web page:

Rita Bernini "Inscription in four languages" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2017. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;it;Mus01_C;34;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 46

RELATED CONTENT

 Artistic Introduction

 Timeline for this item

Islamic Dynasties / Period

Siculo–Norman Art


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