Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Fragmentary Cenotaph Cover with Qur'anic Calligraphy

Object Name:
Tomb cover
17th–18th century
Attributed to Turkey
Silk; lampas
Textile: H. 38 1/4 in. (97.2 cm) W. 26 3/4 in. (67.9 cm) Mount: H. 42 1/16 in. (106.8 cm) W. 30 5/8 in. (77.8 cm) D. 1 3/8 in. (3.5 cm)
Credit Line:
The Friedsam Collection, Bequest of Michael Friedsam, 1931
Accession Number:
Not on view
This rectangular silk textile shows a design of chevron bands containing calligraphic inscriptions comprising verses of the Qur'an, invocations to God, and the shahada, or Muslim profession of faith ("There is no God but God, and Muhammad is his Messenger"). This type of textile covered important Ottoman tombs, and recalls the kiswa fabrics woven in similar designs, but of much larger scale, annually sent by the Ottoman sultans to adorn the Ka'ba in Mecca.
Inscription: All inscriptions in Arabic in thuluth script

Translation: 1. Quran 2:144; "Indeed we see the turning of your face to heaven, so we shall surely turn you to a qibla which you shall like; turn then your face towards the sacred mosque." 2. "There is no God save God and Muhammad is His messenger." 3. "Glory be to God and Praise (to him)." 4. "O Ruler! O Benefactor! O All-glorious! O All-merciful!"

سبحان الله و بحمده سبحان الله العظیم
Glory to God and alleluia Glory to great God

یا سلطان یا منان یا سبحان یا حنان
O Sultan O Flatterer? Glory O Kind-hearted

Koran 2 :144

لا إله إلا الله محمد رسول الله
There is no God else Allah, Muḥmmad is the prophet of Allah.


Marking: See link panel.
Michael Friedsam, New York (until d. 1932; bequeathed to MMA)
Schimmel, Annemarie. "Islamic Calligraphy." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., vol. 50, no. 1 (Summer 1992). p. 56, ill. fig. 66 (b/w).

Haidar, Navina, and Marika Sardar. "Opulence and Fantasy." In Sultans of Deccan India 1500–1700. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2015. p. 18, ill. fig. 9 (color).

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