Name of Object:



Cairo, Egypt

Holding Museum:

Museum of Islamic Art

About Museum of Islamic Art, Cairo

Date of Object:

Hegira 855–86 / AD 1451–81

Artist(s) / Craftsperson(s):

Hajj Sanqur.

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

The blade: iron-steel; the hilt: animal horn. The scabbard: gilded silver. Inscriptions and decorations: gold and silver inlay.


Length 1 m

Period / Dynasty:



A sword composed of a steel blade and a hilt made of animal horn. The scabbard is of gilded silver. The blade has decorative cartouches with inscriptions inside them. On the upper part of the blade there is a prominent medallion, which bears the following text: 'The work of al-Hajj Sanqur', and below this medallion is another inscription of the first verse of the chapter 'Mariam' from the Qur'an: 'Kaf Ha Ya Ayn Sad'. This line is followed byanother cartouche bearing the text, 'Sultan Fatih Muhammad Khan'.Below this cartouche are written verses 1 and 2 from the Qur'anic chapter 'al-Ha Mim', and 'Ain Sin Qaf'. The inscriptions and decorations that appear on the blade are executed in gold inlay. The scabbard is ornamented with vegetal decoration carved in high relief. The owner of the sword was the Ottoman Sultan Muhammad II Al Fatih ('The Conquerer').
The Arabs imported swords from Iran and India. Quality swords were produced in Khurasan (Persia, now Iran), Damascus in Syria and Toledo in Spain.

View Short Description

Ottomans excelled in making swords and their decoration rivalled that of the Iranians. In addition to their military use, swords bearing the names of Ottoman sultans were worn on gala celebrations at the court. This sword bears the name of Sultan Mohammad II and the name of its maker.

Original Owner:

Ottoman Sultan Muhammad II Al-Fatih (‘The Conqueror’); known in Turkey as Fatih Sultan Mehmet or Mehmet II

How date and origin were established:

The sword is dated based on the fact that the names of Ottoman Sultan Muhammad II and the name of the craftsman are recorded on it. In addition to this, the styles of the inscriptions, as well as the technique of manufacture, closely resemble the techniques that are specific to the Ottoman period.

How Object was obtained:

The sword was donated to the museum by Prince Yusuf Kamal, one of the princes of the family of Muhammad Ali, who was a collector of antiques. He donated a large number of ceramic and wooden objects and textiles to the museum.

Selected bibliography:

Öz, T., Fatih Sultan Mehmet II'ye Ait Eserler [Works Belonging to the Sultan Mehmed II the Conqueror], Ankara, 1953.
Yugal, O., Al-Suyuf al-Islamiya wa Suna'iha [Islamic Swords and their Makers], (trans. Muhammad Omar Taha Oghli), Kuwait, 1988.
Zaki, Abd al-Rahman, Al-fi al-Islam [Swords in Islam], Cairo, 1951.
________________, “Al-Suyuf wa Ajnasuha [Swords and their Categories]”, in Majalat Kuliyat al-Adab [Journal of the Faculty of Arts], No. 14, 1952.
_______________, Al-Sayf fi al-'Alam al-Islami [The Sword in the Islamic world], Cairo, 1957.

Citation of this web page:

Muhammad Abbas Muhammad Selim "Sword" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020.;ISL;eg;Mus01;31;en

Prepared by: Muhammad Abbas Muhammad SelimMuhammad Abbas Muhammad Selim

He graduated from the Faculty of Archaeology, Cairo University in 1974 and received an MA on Abbasid Tiraz textiles from the same university in 1995. He has worked at the Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo since 1975. He attended a textile conservation course in Vienna while studying different collections at Austrian museums for five months. He co-authored the first catalogue of the Abegg Foundation in Bern in 1995, the catalogue of the Islamic Art Museum in Cairo and the forthcoming catalogue of the Egyptian Textile Museum. He lectured on Fatimid Art in Switzerland in 1997 and at the Ismaili Centre for Islamic Studies in London in 2003. He has classified and studied the Islamic collection at the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, London, and is currently preparing to publish its catalogues.

Copyedited by: Majd Musa
Translation by: Amal Sachedina (from the Arabic).
Translation copyedited by: Mandi GomezMandi Gomez

Amanda Gomez is a freelance copy-editor and proofreader working in London. She studied Art History and Literature at Essex University (1986–89) and received her MA (Area Studies Africa: Art, Literature, African Thought) from SOAS in 1990. She worked as an editorial assistant for the independent publisher Bellew Publishing (1991–94) and studied at Bookhouse and the London College of Printing on day release. She was publications officer at the Museum of London until 2000 and then took a role at Art Books International, where she worked on projects for independent publishers and arts institutions that included MWNF’s English-language editions of the books series Islamic Art in the Mediterranean. She was part of the editorial team for further MWNF iterations: Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean Virtual Museum and the illustrated volume Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean.

True to its ethos of connecting people through the arts, MWNF has provided Amanda with valuable opportunities for discovery and learning, increased her editorial experience, and connected her with publishers and institutions all over the world. More recently, the projects she has worked on include MWNF’s Sharing History Virtual Museum and Exhibition series, Vitra Design Museum’s Victor Papanek and Objects of Desire, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt’s online publication 2 or 3 Tigers and its volume Race, Nation, Class.

MWNF Working Number: ET 56


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