Name of Object:

Sepulchral stele


Palermo, Italy

Holding Museum:

Regional Gallery of Sicily, Abatellis Palace

Date of Object:


Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Carved stone.


Width 171 cm, height 19 cm, depth 27 cm

Period / Dynasty:



The stele has a shaped base decorated with an elegant frieze with plant volutes in a style exemplified by the funerary stelae of Palermo. Both edges have been damaged. The Arabic script is in elongated kufic characters in the Fatimid style. According to M. Amari (see Bibliography), it reads: ‘ In the name of God the compassionate … give peace. Each soul must savour its own ability, because the day of resurrection (now) whoever misses hell, barely, and makes it to Paradise, has attained a great triumph. The life of this world … illusion. The power … Prophet. This is the tomb of Ayyub (son of …) Mukhallaf, the fuller, who died on Saturday in the first ten days of Rajab of the year five hundred and seventeen [25 August to 3 September 1123]. God have mercy on him’. The textile industry was very widespread in Sicily, as attested by another inscription from AH 462 / AD 1072 still kept at the Regional Gallery of Sicily (San Giovanni list no. 61), which mentions Ibrahim, a dibag (silk cloth) weaver.

View Short Description

Tomb with kufic inscriptions. Tombs and stelae often bore formulas taken from the Qur’an, sometimes with expressions of the virtues of the deceased. In this case, the dead man’s trade is mentioned (weaver), evidence of the vitality of textile production by Muslim craftsmen in Sicily at that time.

How date and origin were established:

Date included on the inscription.

How Object was obtained:

Deposited with the Royal Museum of Palermo.

How provenance was established:

See Bibliography.

Selected bibliography:

Amari, M., Le Epigrafi Arabiche di Sicilia: Iscrizioni Edili, New edition (ed. F. Gabrieli), Palermo, 1971, no. XXII, pp.190–1.
Delogu, R., La Galleria Nazionale della Sicilia, Rome, 1977, p.58.
Scerrato, U., “Arte Islamica in Italia”, in Gli Arabi in Italia (eds. F. Gabrieli and U. Scerrato), Milan, 1979, p.301 and fig. 166.

Citation of this web page:

Rita Bernini "Sepulchral stele" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2018.;ISL;it;Mus01_A;38;en

Prepared by: Rita BerniniRita Bernini

Storica dell'arte, ha lavorato a Palermo, presso la Galleria Regionale della Sicilia - Palazzo Abatellis e a Venezia presso la Soprintendenza per il Patrimonio Storico Artistico ed Etnoantropologico del Veneto.
Attualmente lavora presso il Museo Nazionale d'Arte Orientale "Giuseppe Tucci" e si occupa dell'Archivio delle Collezioni d'arte orientale in Italia, conservato presso il museo.
Ha pubblicato diversi articoli sull'arte siciliana, veneta e romana.

Copyedited by: Pier Paolo RacioppiPier Paolo Racioppi

Laureato e specializzato in storia dell'arte presso l'Università di Roma “La Sapienza” sta conseguendo il dottorato di ricerca in Storia e conservazione dell'oggetto d'arte e d'architettura presso l'Università di Roma TRE. Ha svolto attività seminariali presso l'Istituto di Storia dell'Arte all'Università La Sapienza di Roma e attualmente è docente di storia dell'arte del Rinascimento presso la IES at Luiss (Roma).
Ha pubblicato diversi contributi sulla tutela artistica, il collezionismo e le accademie d'arte, ed ha collaborato al Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani dell'Enciclopedia Treccani.

Translation by: Laurence Nunny
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen

MWNF Working Number: IT 53


 Artistic Introduction

 Timeline for this item

Islamic Dynasties / Period

Siculo–Norman Art

On display in

MWNF Galleries

Calligraphy Funerary objects


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