The Arabic inscription engraved on the blade of this sword indicates that it was part of the large group of European arms and armor once stored in the Mamluk arsenal in Alexandria, Egypt. Many of those pieces were taken as booty in the battles between Muslim and Christian armies in the Near East and Aegean regions; others were sent to the sultan as tribute, possibly by the king of Cyprus.
The inscription reads in translation: "Donation of al-Mālik al Mu`ayyad Abū al-Nasr Shaykh to the armory in the frontier city of Alexandria [in the] year 822 [A.D. 1419]."
This artwork is meant to be viewed from right to left. Scroll left to view more.
Use your arrow keys to navigate the tabs below, and your tab key to choose an item
Title:Sword from the Arsenal of Alexandria
Dimensions:L. 43 11/16 in. (111 cm); L. of blade 34 1/8 in. (86.7 cm); W. 12 3/8 in. (31.4 cm); Wt. 3 lb. 10 oz. (1644 g)
Credit Line:Bashford Dean Memorial Collection, Bequest of Bashford Dean, 1928
Inscription: Engraved in Arabic at the top of the blade: "Donation of al-Mālik al Mu`ayyad Abū al-Nasr Shaykh to the armory in the frontier city of Alexandria [in the] year [A.H.] 822 [A.D. 1419]."
Marking: Stamped on one face: W; on the other face: a cross.
Sultan Malik al-Mu`ayyad Abu’l Nasr Shaykh, Cairo (after 1414–19; his gift to the Mamluk arsenal); Qasr al-Silah (Mamluk arsenal), Alexandria (1419–after 1517; transferred to Ottoman Arsenal); Ottoman Arsenal of Saint Irene, Constantinople (after 1517–1920; sold to Bashford Dean); Bashford Dean, New York (1920–d. 1928; his bequest to MMA).
Los Angeles. Los Angeles County Museum of Art. "Loan Exhibition of Mediaeval and Renaissance Arms and Armor from the Metropolitan Museum of Art," January 15–March 18, 1953, no. 80.
San Francisco. California Palace of the Legion of Honor, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. "Loan Exhibition of Mediaeval and Renaissance Arms and Armor from the Metropolitan Museum of Art," April 18–June 7, 1953, no. 80.
Pittsburgh. Department of Fine Arts, Carnegie Institute. "Loan Exhibition of Mediaeval and Renaissance Arms and Armor from the Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 1953–April 1954, no. 80.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Jerusalem 1000–1400: Every People Under Heaven," September 26, 2016–January 8, 2017, no. 105.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, Stephen V. Grancsay, and Carl Otto von Kienbusch. The Bashford Dean Collection of Arms and Armor in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Portland, ME: Southworth Press for the Armor and Arms Club of New York City, 1933. pp. 195–96, no. 138, pl. LII.
Grancsay, Stephen V. Loan Exhibition of Mediaeval and Renaissance Arms and Armor from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1953. p. 23, no. 80, ill.
Hoffmeyer, Ada Bruhn. "Middelalderens Tveæggede Sværd: En Undersøgelse af dets Udviklingshistorie, Kronologi og Nationalitet, dets Stilling i den Almindelige Vabenhistoriske Udvikling og dets Krigsmæssige Betydning." PhD diss., PhD diss., Tøjhusmuseet, 1954. p. 31, no. 88, pl. XXVIII a.
Aroldi, Aldo M. Armi e Armature Italiane Fino al XVIII Secolo. Milan: Bramante Editrice, 1961. fig. 208.
Nickel, Helmut. Ullstein-Waffenbuch: eine kulturhistorische Waffenkunde mit Markenverzeichnis. Berlin: Ullstein, 1974. p. 167, ill.
Kalus, Ludvik. "Donations Pieuses d'Epées Médiévales a l'Arsenal d'Alexandrie." Revue des Etudes Islamiques (1982), pp. 59–60, no. 59, ill.
Alexander, David G. "European Swords in the Collections of Istanbul. Part I: Swords from the Arsenal of Alexandria." Waffen– und Kostümkunde: Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft für Historische Waffen– und Kostümkunde, Waffen- und Kostümkunde, 44, ser. 3 v. 27, n.2 pp. 81–118, n. 35, appx. I.
Alexander, David G. "European Swords in the Collections of Istanbul: Part 2." Waffen– und Kostümkunde: Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft für Historische Waffen– und Kostümkunde, Waffen- und Kostümkunde, 46, ser. 3 v. 29, n.1 pp. 21–48.
Spiteri, Stephen C. The Palace Armoury: A Study of a Military Storehouse of the Knights of the Order of St. John. Valletta: Farsons Foundation, The Brewery, 1999. p. 29, ill.
Thomas, Clive. "A Distinctive Group of Swords from the Arsenal of Alexandria." The 20th Anniversary London Park Lane Arms Fair: [sunday, 16th February 2003, the Marriott Hotel, Grosvenor Square, London] (2003), p. 40, no. 14, fig. 17.
Boehm, Barbara Drake, and Melanie Holcomb. sntJerusalem, 1000–1400: Every People Under Heaven. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2016. p. 209, no. 105.
The Met Collection API is where all makers, creators, researchers, and dreamers can connect to the most up-to-date data and public domain images for The Met collection. Open Access data and public domain images are available for unrestricted commercial and noncommercial use without permission or fee.
We continue to research and examine historical and cultural context for objects in The Met collection. If you have comments or questions about this object record, please complete and submit this form. The Museum looks forward to receiving your comments.