Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Lidded Box of Muhammad al-Hamawi, Timekeeper at the Umayyad Mosque, Damascus

Object Name:
Box with lid
15th century
Attributed to Syria
Brass; engraved and inlaid with silver
H. 4 in. (10.2 cm) W. 6 11/16 in. (17 cm) D. 3 1/4 in. (8.3 cm)
Credit Line:
Edward C. Moore Collection, Bequest of Edward C. Moore, 1891
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 454
Mamluk metalwork began to decline in quality by the late fourteenth century. Commissioned for the official responsible for supervising the call‑to‑prayer and announcing the beginning and end of Ramadan, this box probably served as a food container.
Inscription: Arabic, on lid and body; translation: (lid) "What was made for al-Wathiq bi-l-Mulk (the confident in rule) al-Wali Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Ali al-Hamawi (from Hama in Northern Syria), the timekeeper in the Umayyad Mosque (in Damascus)."; (right side of the body) "And to its owner happiness, safety, longevity, glory unmarred by humiliation, and prosperity until the day of judgement."; (on the left hand side) "O God! You are my hope and in You I assured my doubts, forgive me for my sins, give me health and forgive me." The inscription on the short sides consists of only partially decipherable verses.

Previous translations:
-On top: "Of what was made by order .. of the King, the Sovereign, Mohammed, son of Ali, of Hama."
-On body: "I [the casket] give gladness in the day of salvation and ... my owner ... knows ... and from the illness of eyes and skin ... and Forutne and Joy ... and Prosperity, till the Day of Judgment ... to the King ... the Sultan.. the Amiable."
-On clasp: "Beduh" (a combination of letters having a magical meaning)

Translation by Yassir al-Tabba (1978):
-Lid, top: "Of what was made on the order of al-Wathiq bi-l-mulk (the confident in rule) al-wali ibn Muhammad Muhammad (sic) ibn `Ali al-Hamawi, which is waqf in the Umayyad mosque";
-Body, right: "And to its owner happiness, security, longevity, glory unmarred by contempt, and prosperity to the Day of Judgement";
-Body, left: "O God! You are my hope and in you I assured my doubts forgive me for my sins, give me health, and forgive me";
-Body, right: "When the Lord elevates ... "

Corrections by Dr. Abdullah Ghouchani (2008):
-On top: "Of what was made by order of the King, the Sovereign, Mohammed, son of Mohamed, of Hama, who arrange the time."
Edward C. Moore (American, New York 1827–1891 New York), New York (until d. 1891; bequeathed to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Renaissance of Islam: Art of the Mamluks," November 21, 1981–January 10, 1982, no. 36.

Mexico City. Colegio de San Ildefonso. "Arte islamico del Museo Metropolitano de Arte de Nueva York," September 30, 1994–January 8, 1995, no. 85.

Aanavi, Don. "Devotional Writing: "Pseudoinscriptions" in Islamic Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin vol. 26, no. 9 (May 1968). p. 356, ill. fig. 8 (b/w).

Atil, Esin. Renaissance of Islam : Art of the Mamluks. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1981. no. 36, p. 104, ill. (color).

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Daniel S. Walker, Arturo Ponce Guadián, Sussan Babaie, Stefano Carboni, Aimee Froom, Marie Lukens Swietochowski, Tomoko Masuya, Annie Christine Daskalakis-Matthews, Abdallah Kahil, and Rochelle Kessler. "Colegio de San Ildefonso, Septiembre de 1994-Enero de 1995." In Arte Islámico del Museo Metropolitano de Arte de Nueva York. Mexico City: Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, 1994. no. 85, pp. 214-215, ill. p. 215 (b/w).

Related Objects

Dragon-Handled Jug with Inscription

Date: late 15th– first quarter 16th century Medium: Brass; cast and turned, engraved, and inlaid with silver, gold, and black organic compound Accession: 91.1.607 On view in:Gallery 455

Damascus Room

Date: dated A.H. 1119/A.D. 1707 Medium: Wood (poplar) with gesso relief, gold and tin leaf, glazes and paint; wood (cypress, poplar, and mulberry), mother-of-pearl, marble and other stones, stucco with glass, plaster ceramic tiles, iron, brass Accession: 1970.170 On view in:Gallery 461

Basin with Zodiac signs and royal titles

Date: late 13th–early 14th century Medium: Brass; engraved and inlaid with silver and black compound Accession: 91.1.553 On view in:Gallery 453

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

Date: ca. 1321–63 Medium: Brass; engraved and inlaid with silver and black compound Accession: 91.1.589 On view in:Gallery 455

Candlestick Base with Interlacing Dragons

Date: early to mid-13th century Medium: Brass; hammered, turned, engraved, incised, inlaid with silver and copper Accession: 91.1.561 On view in:Gallery 454