Name of Object:

Prismatic stele of Ibrahim

Location:

Rabat, Morocco

Holding Museum:

Museum of the Udayas

Date of Object:

Hegira 490-541 / AD 1097-1147

Museum Inventory Number:

D. 4409

Material(s) / Technique(s):

White Almería marble, sculpted and excised.

Dimensions:

Height 14.5 cm, length 90 cm, width 21 cm

Period / Dynasty

Almoravid

Workshop / Movement:

A marble workshop in Almería, Andalusia.

Provenance:

Beneath the first mosque of the Almohad monarch ‘Abd al-Mu’min, which was known as the original Kutubiya.

Description:

This prismatic funerary stele, whose marble would have come from Almería, has a crack in one edge. It appears to have been made for a nobleman of the era, as it was customary for this type of stele to be reserved for higher-ranking people. A single-line inscription covers the two faces and the two triangular sections. The basmala and tasliya, salutations to the prophet and his family, are sculpted in relief on the first face. The uniqueness of God is proclaimed on the end section. The identity of the deceased is mentioned on the second face: 'This is the tomb (...) [of] Ibrahim the one scarred by tinea (...)', followed by a pious formula common in inscriptions in Muslim Spain: 'may God have mercy on him and on those who invoke God to have pity on him'. The crack on one edge has deprived the stele of the end of the inscription and its date of manufacture. The very high upstrokes of the kufic characters finish by stretching into bevels, similar to the letters of the inscriptions from Almería and Gao (Niger). The empty spaces in the inscribed area are filled with fine undulating double-stem foliage bearing leaves and buds. The pious formula and writing style make this stele, which is the only Almoravid example found in Morocco to date, reminiscent of stelae from Almería that date from the first half of the AH 6th / AD 12th century, and this suggests that it was produced in a workshop in that town. Its floral decoration is similar to the Almoravid pulpit in the Great Mosque of Algiers dated AH 490 / AD 1097.

View Short Description

The basmala and the tasliya (salutations) are sculpted on one side of this stele, with the identity of the deceased on the other. It is the only Almoravid stele found to date in Morocco. Its pious formula, style of kufic script and plant decoration are all reminiscent of stelae from Almería, Spain.

How date and origin were established:

1. The layer in which the object was found, beneath the foundations of one of the pillars of the first Almohad mosque of Marrakesh built in 541 / 1147, provides the terminus ante quem.
2. Comparison of the writing style with the style used in some stelae from Spain and Gao (Niger) dated AH 536 / AD 1142 as well as the comparison of its floral decoration with a floral decoration in the Almoravid pulpit of Algiers (AH 490 / AD 1097) provide the terminus post quem.

How Object was obtained:

Excavated.

How provenance was established:

Place the object was found.

Selected bibliography:

Lévi-Provençal, É., Inscriptions arabes d'Espagne, Paris, 1932.
Marçais, G., “La chaire de la Grande Mosquée d'Alger”, Hespéris, 1921, IV, pp.359–83 and 1926, IV, pp.419–22.
Marçais, G., L'architecture musulmane d'Occident, Paris 1954.
Meunié, J. and Terrasse, H., Recherches archéologiques à Marrakech, Paris, 1952.
Sauvaget, J., “Les épitaphes royales de Gao”, Al-Andalus, Vol. XIV, fasc. 1, 1949, pp.123–41.

Citation of this web page:

Naima El Khatib-Boujibar "Prismatic stele of Ibrahim" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2017. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;ma;Mus01_B;37;en

Prepared by: Naima El Khatib-BoujibarNaima El Khatib-Boujibar

Archéologue et historienne de l'art, titulaire d'une licence en lettres (française), N. Elkhatib-Boujibar a également étudié l'archéologie et l'histoire de l'art à l'Institut d'art et d'archéologie de Paris, l'art islamique et la muséologie à l'École du Louvre (Paris), et suivi des cours à l'Institut d'ethnographie de l'Université de Neuchâtel (Suisse). Elle a occupé plusieurs postes de responsabilité, parmi lesquels directrice des Musées et de l'Archéologie, inspectrice générale des Musées et de l'Archéologie, déléguée régionale du ministère de la Culture.
Elle a dirigé un chantier de fouille durant 20 ans et enseigné à l'Institut national marocain des sciences de l'archéologie et du patrimoine (INSAP). Elle a organisé différentes expositions sur le patrimoine marocain, au Maroc comme à l'étranger, et animé des cycles de conférence, dont celui sur l'art islamique à la “Villa des Arts” à Casablanca.
N. El Khatib-Boujibar a publié différents articles sur le patrimoine archéologique, artistique et architectural marocain, mais aussi sur d'autres sites islamiques et sur les arts mobiliers. Elle a également participé à la rédaction du catalogue Musée Sans Frontières Le Maroc andalou, à la rencontre d'un art de vivre.

Copyedited by: Margot Cortez
Translation by: Laurence Nunny
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen

MWNF Working Number: MO 55

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