Name of Object:

Very large column shaft with Arabic inscription in kufic characters


Trapani, Italy

Holding Museum:

Agostino Pepoli Regional Museum

Date of Object:

9th-10th centuries

Museum Inventory Number:

117 / 67

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Marble with whitish background and wavy green veining (known as cipollin) from the quarries of Karystos in Evia; inscription in relief.


Max. height 215 cm, lower diameter 36 cm

Period / Dynasty:



Arab Quarter, Trapani.


Very large marble shaft, probably reworked from a Roman piece, broken at the top and missing about one third of its original height. There are a variety of abrasions on its surface. The lower part of the shaft has been chiselled. A scroll 20 cm wide placed at a height of 160 cm up the shaft contains a kufic inscription in relief. The text of the inscription is as follows (translation by M. Amari – see Bibliography): ‘And (I wish for) no favour but from God’. The height of the reworked column, originally Roman or Byzantine, can be calculated to around 296 cm. On the basis of the style of the kufic characters, it is possible to attribute the inscription to the AH end of the 4th or beginning of the 5th century / AD end of 10th or beginning of the 11th century. The use of marble suggests a prestigious location, such as a mosque or a palace.

View Short Description

This column may have originally been part of a mosque or similarly important building, and is probably a reworked piece from Roman times. It has a religious inscription in kufic characters in relief.

Original Owner:

Cavaliere Pietro Emanuele, Trapani (c. 1825)

How Object was obtained:

Transfer from the Fardelliana Library in Trapani.

How provenance was established:

Reused in the palace of Pietro Emanuele in Trapani, located in the ‘Casalicchio’ district, which some local traditions claim was the centre of the town during the Arabic period.

Selected bibliography:

Amari, M., Epigrafi Arabiche di Sicilia I: Iscrizioni Edili, Palermo, 1875, 83, no. XXIII, tab. X.3.
Barresi, P., “Le Colonne Arabe di Trapani”, Sicilia Archeologica (forthcoming).
Di Ferro, G. M., Guida per gli Stranieri in Trapani, Trapani, 1825 (reprinted 1977), pp.164, 212, note 130.
Gregorio, R., Rerum Arabicarum Quae ad Historiam Siculam Spectant, Panormi (Palermo), 1790, p.141.
Gabrieli, F. and Scerrato, U., Gli Arabi in Italia, Milan, 1979, fig. 261.

Citation of this web page:

Paolo Barresi "Very large column shaft with Arabic inscription in kufic characters" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2018.;ISL;it;Mus01_B;50;en

Prepared by: Paolo BarresiPaolo Barresi

Laureato in Archeologia, ha conseguito la specializzazione presso la Scuola Archeologica Italiana di Atene ed il Dottorato di ricerca in Archeologia Classica.
Autore di numerosi articoli e recensioni, ha pubblicato la monografia Province dell'Asia Minore. Costo dei marmi, architettura pubblica e committenza. Collabora da anni con l'Università di Roma “La Sapienza” ed ha insegnato presso la Cattedra di Archeologia e Storia dell'Arte del Vicino Oriente Antico dell'Università di Trapani.

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 71


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Islamic Dynasties / Period

Siculo–Norman Art

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