Name of Object:

Weighing scales pan


Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom

Holding Museum:

Royal Museum, National Museums of Scotland (NMS)

About Royal Museum, National Museums of Scotland (NMS), Edinburgh

Date of Object:

Hegira 9th century / AD 15th century

Museum Inventory Number:

A. 1884.2.7

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Incised brass.


Diameter 23.19 cm

Period / Dynasty:



Syria or Egypt.


A shallow circular pan belonging to a set of weighing scales, decorated on the inside only with six six-petalled rosettes arranged below the rim at regular intervals. Below this is a band containing three cusped roundels with composite blazons that incorporate the motifs of napkin, pen case and cup set against a stylised scrolling background. The roundels alternate with three elongated cartouches containing inscriptions in thuluth script. These are arranged on a stylised scrolling background with split-palmette and leafy elements incorporated into it. The inscriptions give the honorific titles of an anonymous ruler. The roundels and cartouches are interconnected by roundels with plain borders, filled with six-petalled rosettes. Pointed and cusped split-palmette cartouches further highlight the blazon roundels above and below. In between the latter, six six-petalled rosettes appear placed at regular intervals. The centre of the pan is decorated with an interlaced rosette motif with a central, six-pointed star created from inverted trefoils. The remaining spaces within the interlacing are filled with individual trefoils and scrolling.

View Short Description

The style of this scales pan, its layout and the presence of a composite blazon place this object within a late Mamluk context. It may have been made in Damascus or Cairo. Scales pans would have been essential tools in the markets of Mamluk cities throughout the empire.

How date and origin were established:

The style of the incised decoration, its layout and the presence of a stylised composite blazon, place this object within the Mamluk period (9th / 15th century).

How Object was obtained:

Purchased by NMS from the St Maurice Collection in 1884.

How provenance was established:

The style of the incised decoration, its layout and the presence of a stylised, composite blazon, locate this object within a Mamluk context. The major metalworking workshops during the Mamluk period were in Damascus in Syria and Cairo in Egypt.

Selected bibliography:

Enderlein, V., (ed.) Museum of Islamic Art: State Museums of Berlin Prussian Cultural Property, exhibition catalogue, Berlin, 2003, pp.87–8 (for a related scale pan).

Citation of this web page:

Ulrike Al-Khamis "Weighing scales pan" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2019.;ISL;uk;Mus03;18;en

Prepared by: Ulrike Al-KhamisUlrike Al-Khamis

Ulrike Al-Khamis is Principal Curator for the Middle East and South Asia at the National Museums of Scotland in Edinburgh. She began her academic career in Germany before completing her BA (1st class Hons) in Islamic Art and Archaeology at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London in 1987. The same year she moved to Edinburgh, where she completed her Ph.D. thesis on “Early Islamic Bronze and Brass Ewers from the 7th to the 13th Century AD” in 1994. From 1994 to 1999 she worked as Curator of Muslim Art and Culture for Glasgow Museums and, in 1997, was one of the main instigators of the first ever Scottish Festival of Muslim Culture, SALAAM. Since 1999 she has been based at the Royal Museum in Edinburgh, where she has curated several exhibitions and continues to publish aspects of the collections. In addition to her museum work she has contributed regularly to the teaching of the Fine Arts Department at the University of Edinburgh.

Copyedited by: Mandi Gomez

MWNF Working Number: UK3 18


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