Name of Object:

Large tray (s’ni)


Algiers, Algeria

Holding Museum:

National Museum of Antiquities and Islamic Arts

About National Museum of Antiquities and Islamic Arts, Algiers

Date of Object:

Hegira 1156 / AD 1743

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Hammered and incised red copper.


Width 2.7 cm, diameter 94.2 cm

Period / Dynasty:





The decoration on this circular tray is arranged in concentric bands encircling a rosette with many petals. The first band is adorned with stylised leaves, followed by another band that is wider and engraved with alternating vegetal elements representing the cypress tree, as well as arabesque medallions. A signature in cursive lettering carries the name of the owner, 'sahibihi Al-Hadj Ibrahim (Zaytuna)' and, composed in Indian numerals, the date of the object's fabrication, 1156; which can be translated as: 'its owner al-Hadj Ibrahim (Zaytuna) 1156' (AD 1743). The last letter of the word sahibihi, which surrounds the whole of the inscription, ends in the form of a tulip, in imitation of the tughra (the signature of the Ottoman sultans). The third band features interweaving foliar ornaments enclosing small rosettes, and the last band features semi-circular arches adorned with flowers.
In former times, the s'ni would be placed on a small painted wooden table as a means of serving the different daily meals. It is still used in Algeria.

View Short Description

Large circular dish decorated with concentric incised circles around a central rosette with several petals. The decoration in the gaps is mainly plant-based. A signature in cursive characters states the name of the owner and the date when the piece was made.

Original Owner:

Al-Hadj Ibrahim (Zaytuna)

How date and origin were established:

According to the date on the object.

How provenance was established:

Algiers was the main manufacturing centre for this type of brassware.

Selected bibliography:

Catalogue descriptif et illustré des principaux ouvrages d'or et d'argent de fabrication algérienne, Algiers, 1900.
Eudel, P., Dictionnaire des bijoux de l'Afrique du Nord, Maroc, Algérie, Tripolitaine, Paris, 1906.
Marçais, G., Le musée Stéphane Gsell, musée des antiquités et d'art musulman d'Alger, Algiers, 1950.

Citation of this web page:

Ali Benbella "Large tray (s’ni)" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020.;ISL;dz;Mus01;33;en

Prepared by: Ali BenbellaAli Benbella

Maître-assistant à l'Institut d'archéologie de l'université d'Alger, titulaire d'un magister en archéologie islamique, conservateur du patrimoine archéologique et historique, ancien chef du service Conservation et Valorisation (section islamique) au Musée national des antiquités, Ali Benbella a participé à plusieurs fouilles sur les sites médiévaux algériens de Mansourah (Tlemcen) et Achir (Médéa). Il a contribué à la réalisation de plusieurs expositions et catalogues établis par le Musée national des antiquités, entre autres Arts Céramiques et L'art islamique d'après une collection privée, et participé à la deuxième conférence sur les “Musées de la Méditerranée, nouveaux concepts et nouvelles perspectives” (Stockholm, 09-12 mai 2003).
Parmi ses publications, il faut citer sa contribution aux Cahiers d'Achir (rapport de fouilles, 1994), ainsi que plusieurs articles en arabe dans la revue Annales du Musée national des antiquités, le dernier sous le titre : “Pavillon des arts islamiques du Musée national des antiquités”. Il est l'auteur, dans le Medelhavsmuseet Bulletin (Stockholm, 2004), d'un article en anglais intitulé : “The National Museum of Antiquities in Algiers”.

Copyedited by: Margot Cortez
Translation by: Maria Vlotides
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen

MWNF Working Number: AL 59


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