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Collecting Turkmen Jewelry: The Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf Collection


Calligraphic Dish

Object Name:
ca. 1600
India, Deccan, Bijapur
Copper alloy; cast
H. 1/4in. (0.6cm) Diam. 5 7/8in. (14.9cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Wendy F. Findlay Gift, 1983
Accession Number:
  • Description

    Center inscription: There is no god but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God, 'Ali is the friend of God

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Arabic, Thuluth script; in center of dish, three lines, Shiite profession of faith, but misunderstood; translation: "There is no deity save `Ali / Allah Muhammad is the friend of God / The messenger of God" (Trans. A. Schimmel, 1983); Note: These lines are incorrect and should read: "There is no God save God / Muhammad is the messenger of God / `Ali is the friend of God". (A. Schimmel, 1983)

    The above reading is incorrect. Read vertically, the translation is: "There is no god but God", going from right to left, next column,starting from middle row of main inscription: "And Muhammad is the messenger of God"; first row, last word (furthest to left): "`Ali"; second row, last word: "Allah", but with a "yaa" strangely protruding down from the second laam in "Allah".

    Translation (in surrounding circular band), Qur'anic verses: "And we reveal of the Qur'an that which is a healing and a mercy to the believers, and it adds only to the perdition of the unjust (Sura 17:82); Peace: a word from the Lord of mercy (Sura 36:58); (and) Peace, it is until the break of dawn, (Sura 97:5) (Trans. A. Schimmel, 1983) -- this section is followed by the word "tammat", "finished"; Note: The calligraphy is awkward and incorrectly executed. In the central inscription, because of the position of "`Ali", the formula is adjusted for the sake of beauty. In the inscription containing the verses from the Qur'an, there are major errors. In 17:82, 'mIn' is illegible. In 36:58, 'mIn' resembles the letter 'Sad', and 'rabb ar-raHIm' appears instead of 'rabb raHIm', presumably because the craftsman was used to writing 'ar-raHIm' (the compassionate) with the definite article as it occurs in the formula 'bismi 'llahi 'rahmAni'r'raHIm', "in the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate". Incorrect words are contained in single quotation marks.

    For transcription, see cat. card (transcribed by Annemarie Schimmel, 28 February 1986).

  • Provenance

    [ Art market, 1982]; [ Bashir Mohamed, London, 1982–83; sold to MMA]

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History