Museum of Islamic Art at the Pergamon Museum
Hegira 435 / AD 1044
Height 64 cm, width 46 cm
Probably the region around Almería, Spain.
This rectangular marble slab is carved with an 11-line inscription that is framed within a carved, horseshoe-shaped, pillared arch. Palmettes decorate the spandrels of the arch, and the frieze that forms the decorative border incorporates undulating half-palmette tendrils. The execution of the gravestone reveals that it was designed to include a mihrab (prayer niche). Gravestones such as these were typical in Andalusia, particularly in the town of Almería. The inscription is composed in a not very accomplished kufic script, the characteristic script of the Maghreb. A classic feature of this script was the subtle inclusion of small leaves or decorative dots within the text. The meaning of the inscription can be outlined as follows: after the basmala, the Islamic profession of faith, verses from the Qur’an are quoted (Sura 3 verse 182 and Sura 38 verses 67–8). The name of the deceased follows: ‘This is the grave of Djabir, son of Mohammed al-Khashab, the trader of wood [?], who is known under the name of Ibn al-Qallal. He died on the youm al-Itnine [Monday] of the first decade of the month of Ramadan in the year 435 [2 April 1044], at which time he witnessed that there is no God other than God and that Mohammed is God’s Prophet, and that Paradise and Hell, the Resurrection and the Hour of Judgement, all truly exist.’ The profession of faith is referred to in Sura 22 verses 3–7. At the time of the named person’s death, the Banu Sumadih ruled in the important port of Almería. The fact that this type of gravestone, with its typically Andalusian horseshoe arch, has frequently been found around Almería, could suggest that it originated from around there.View Short Description
Horseshoe-arched marble gravestones were typically found in the city of Almería near Malaga in al-Andalus. This example, with its compact kufic script completely filling the space and very typical arabesque borders and spandrel fillings, was made for a man who died in AH 435 (AD 1044).
Kalebdijan Collection, Paris
The inscription dates the gravestone to 435 / 1044.
Bought in 1942 from the Kalebdijan Collection, Paris.
There are markings on the gravestone itself which were made when it was constructed and which are characteristic of gravestones from Almería, Spain.
Lévi-Provençal, E., Inscriptions Arabes d’Espagne, Paris-Leiden, 1931, no. 189.
Museum für Islamische Kunst, Catalogue, Berlin, 2001, pp.92–3.
Schätze der Alhambra: Islamischen Kunst aus Andalusien, Catalogue, Milan, 1995, no. 60.
Annette Hagedorn "Gravestone" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2023. https://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;de;Mus01;44;en
Prepared by: Annette Hagedorn
Translation by: Maria Vlotides, Brigitte Finkbeiner
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen
MWNF Working Number: GE 55