Name of Object:
Hexagonal dinner stand
Also known as:
Museum of Islamic Art
Date of Object:
Hegira 728 / AD 1327
Artist(s) / Craftsperson(s):
Muhammad ibn Sunqur al-Baghdadi al-Sanqari.
Museum Inventory Number:
Material(s) / Technique(s):
Copper, inlaid with silver and decorated in filigree and openwork.
Height 81 cm, diameter 40.5 cm
Period / Dynasty:
This piece assumes the shape of a hexagonal (six-sided) pedestal upon which dinner trays would be placed; it is therefore known as a dinner stand. Its top surface, which is also hexagonal in shape, has a central circular decoration comprising a radiating inscription in a plaited kufic script. The radiating form of the inscription increases its decorative impact as it appears to simulate the rays of the sun coming from a central medallion, in which the artist has inscribed the name of Sultan al-Nasir Hasan ibn al-Nasir Muhammad ibn Qalawun, for whom this table was probably made. Framing the surface of this piece, is an inscription in Mamluk thuluth script which includes the name of the sultan and a number of his titles, it reads: 'Glory to our lord the Sultan al-Malik al-Nasir al-'Alam, al-'Adil, al-Mujahid, al-Murabit, al-Muthaghir, al-Mu'ayyad, al-Mansur, the Sultan of Islam and the Muslims, the Destroyer of Apostates and Infidels, the Reviver of Justice to all, the Protector of the oppressed against the oppressors, the Protector of the Muslim community, the Protector of worldly and spiritual matters, ibn al-Sultan al-Malik al-Mansur Qalawun Al-Salihi'. And surrounding these inscriptions along the interior are a series of lobed semi-circles decorated with flying ducks that are distinguished by their vitality and movement.
View Short Description
This type of table, made from metal or wood, was extensively produced during the Mamluk period in Cairo. It was used to hold food or items that need to be elevated from the floor. This table is made of brass inlaid with silver on which the name and titles of Sultan al-Nasir Muhammad and the maker's name were inscribed.
Sultan al-Nasir Hasan ibn al-Nasir Muhammad ibn Qalawun who reigned three times: AH 693–4 / AD 1294–5; AH 698–708 / AD 1299–1309; AH 709–41 / AD 1309–40
How date and origin were established:
This piece can be dated based on the inscription it carries, which includes the name of the craftsman who made it and the date it was manufactured. This is in addition to the inscriptions on the piece which specifically name Sultan al-Nasir Muhammad ibn Qalawun.
How Object was obtained:
This piece was transferred from the Bimaristan of Sultan al-Mansur Qalawun to the Museum of Islamic Art. It was one of the first pieces to enter the collections at the time of the inauguration of the Museum in 1903.
How provenance was established:
It is highly probable that the piece was crafted in Cairo, especially in view of the fact that it is decorated with epigraphic inscriptions in Mamluk thuluth script, a style prevalent in Mamluk pieces attributed to Egypt. Additionally, the design technique used in its manufacture and the decoration, closely resemble those used in a number of other objects known to have been made in Egypt, including a box (for a Qur'an manuscript) made of copper and inlaid with gold and silver, currently housed in the library of al-Azhar Mosque, which bears the name of Sultan al-Nasir Muhammad ibn Qalawun and is dated 723 (1322). There is an almost identical box in the collections at the Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin, known to have been taken from a mosque in Cairo; this is inscribed with the name of the same craftsman as the pedestal under discussion here: Muhammad ibn Sunqur al-Baghdadi. There is also a silver inlaid candlestick currently in the collections of the Islamic Art Museum in Cairo (reg. no. 15080) which bears the name of Sultan al-Nasir ibn Muhammad ibn Qalawun.
Al-Maqrizi, Al-mawā'iz wa'l-i'tibār bi-dhikr al-khitat wa'l-āthār [Exhortations and Contemplation of the Recollection of Plans and Monuments], 2 vols, Cairo, 1853.
Citation of this web page:
Salah Sayour "Hexagonal dinner stand" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;eg;Mus01;2;en
Prepared by: Salah Sayour