Tray, Brass; engraved and inlaid with silver and black compound


late 13th–early 14th century
Attributed to Egypt
Brass; engraved and inlaid with silver and black compound
H. 1 1/2 in. (3.8 cm)
Diam. 30 1/4 in. (76.8 cm)

Credit Line:
Edward C. Moore Collection, Bequest of Edward C. Moore, 1891
Accession Number:
Not on view
This tray has concentric bands of decoration around a central Sun disk. Included in the bands are personifications of the six planets and the twelve signs of the Zodiac, coursing animals, and an inscription (the titles of a Mamluk official) with medallions containing a falconer, polo players, and seated musicians.

In the Arabic tradition, the constellation of Sagittarius was known as al-rami, "the archer," while the corresponding Zodiac sign was known as al-qaws, "the bow." As a result, representations of the Zodiac sign, a centaur shooting an arrow from his bow, combine aspects of the two. The image of the centaur here also has the upper body of the mythical beast, which can be interpreted as an image of Jupiter, Sagittarius' Planetary Lord.
Inscription: Arabic, in wide band, the titles of Mamluk officials; translation: "Of what was made for the high, dignified excellency, the lord, the great prince, the respected, the served, the conqueror, the fighter for the faith, the warrior, the defender of the outposts, the aided, the victorious, the aided to victory". Translation by Yassir al-Tabba (1978). Copy of translation and transcription in Curatorial file.
Edward C. Moore, New York (until d. 1891; bequeathed to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Following the Stars: Images of the Zodiac in Islamic Art," February 4, 1997–August 31, 1997, no. 17.

"Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art New York." In The Arts of Islam. Berlin, 1981. no. 57, pp. 148-149, ill. p. 149 (b/w).

Carboni, Stefano. Following the Stars: The Zodiac in Islamic Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1997. no. 17, pp. 40-41, ill. (b/w).