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Ablutions Basin of Yemeni Sultan al-Mujahid Sayf al-Din 'Ali

Object Name:
Basin
Date:
ca. 1321–63
Geography:
Egypt or Syria
Culture:
Islamic
Medium:
Brass; engraved and inlaid with silver and black compound
Dimensions:
H. 8 1/2 in. (21.6 cm) Diam. 18 3/8 in. (46.5 cm)
Classification:
Metal
Credit Line:
Edward C. Moore Collection, Bequest of Edward C. Moore, 1891
Accession Number:
91.1.589
Not on view
Although commissioned for a Rasulid sultan of Yemen, this basin reflects prevailing tastes of early fourteenth century Cairo and was clearly produced there or in Damascus, where comparable pieces were created. Bold inscriptions on the wall and rim constitute the central decorative theme, punctuated by medallions featuring lotus blossoms and the Rasulid emblem, a five‑petaled rosette.
Inscription: Arabic; translation:
-Interior: "Glory to our Master, the Sultan, the King al-Mujahid, the Wise, the Ruler, the Mighty, the Victorious, the Conqueror, the Chief of the Kings and of the Sultans, the Killer of Unbelievers and Idolators, the Maker of Widows, the Sword of Islam, `Ali, the Chief of the Believers."
-Exterior: "Glory to our Master, the Sultan, the King al-Mujahid, the Wise, the Ruler, the Mighty, the Victorious, the Conqueror, the Sword of Islam, `Ali. May his victory be glorified." (Trans. Prof. N. Martinovitch; see Dimand, pub. list)

Translation by Yassir al-Tabba (1978):
-Inside: "Glory to our lord, the sultan, the king, the fighter for the fatih, the wise, the governor, the aided, the victorious, the aided to victory, the master of kings and sultans, the killer of infidels and polytheists, ... the widows, the sword of Islam `Ali the commander of the faithful, may his victory be glorious."
-Outside: "Glory to our lord, the sultan, the king, the fighter for the faith, the wise, the governor, the aided, the victorious, the aided to victory, the sword of Islam, `Ali, may his victory be glorious."
Edward C. Moore, New York (until d. 1891; bequeathed to MMA)
Dimand, Maurice S. A Handbook of Muhammadan Art. 2nd rev. and enl. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1944. p. 152.

Carswell, John. "Catalogue of an exhibition at David and Alfred Smart Gallery, University of Chicago." In Blue and White: Chinese Porcelain and Its Impact on the Western World. University of Chicago: University of Chicago, 1985. no. 27, pp. 82-83, ill. p. 82 (b/w).



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