Islamic Museum, al-Aqsa Mosque / al-Haram al-Sharif
Hegira 10th century / AD 16th century
م/ ن/ 48
Tin-plated and hammered copper.
Height 80 cm, diameter 131 cm
Palestine or Syria.
A cauldron (a huge cooking pot) from the Complex of Khassaki Sultan, also known as a charitable institution or takiyya (asylum) for the needy. The building, completed in AH 964 / AD 1557, is located in Jerusalem. As a patroness of charitable institutions, Khassaki Sultan undertook the construction of this complex, and endowed it with a waqf. This establishment is considered to be one of the largest social institutions to survive from Ottoman Jerusalem. In its day, it offered meals, daily, to the poor of the city, students, scholars and others who were among those who were entitled to food in accordance with the requirements of the waqf. The number of people who benefited from this institution on a daily basis exceeded 1000, thus requiring the availability of large spaces to prepare huge quantities of food in enormous cooking utensils. Despite the changing administrative and political circumstances in Palestine during the past few centuries, this institution still occupies a minor social role today.
The Islamic Museum acquired three cauldrons from the complex of Khassaki Sultan. The cauldron exhibited here was produced using tin-plated copper, constructed by means of coiled copper which forms part of the body of the cauldron. The coil is then fixed together with solid copper nails, as hammering was not used on these large pots as it was with smaller cooking vessels. The cavity of the cauldron has been fixed to the base by a series of nails that surround the junction of the base with the body. The vessel has four large carrying handles. The body is supported by a group of copper stays that sometimes form extensions to the handles and are fastened to the cauldron with nails, or that are simply located between two of the handles. It seems that the cauldron was coiled only in the middle of its cavity, for its hollow has been tin-plated and secured with copper nails in the same manner as was used to fix the base. The cauldron contains an inscription that appears to have been added at a later period, it reads: “The waqf of the late mother of the sultan who had built edifices in Jerusalem under the charge of Hajji Khalil Aga … designated formerly 1235 [AD 1819]”. There is another date next to this that reads, “1161 [AD 1748]”.
This is a large cooking utensil made of copper that was used to prepare meals in the Khassaki Sultan charitable institution established in Jerusalem by the wife of Sultan Sulayman the Magnificent. The great size of this cauldron reflects the amount of food that was prepared on a daily basis.
Khassaki Sultan (also known as Haseki Hürrem Sultan or Roxelana; d. AH 965 / AD 1558), wife of Sultan Sulayman, the Magnificent (r. AH 926–73 / AD 1520–66)
The piece has been dated in accordance with the date of construction of the Complex of Khassaki Sultan, since it was probably made to be used there.
The piece was transferred from the Complex of Khassaki Sultan to the Islamic Museum in 1928.
The cauldron does not contain any distinguishing marks that enable us to narrow down the place of its manufacture. However, the manufacture of vessels such as this was, and still is, undertaken in Palestine and Syria so it is possible that this piece was made in one of these two places.
Al-'Arif, 'A., Al-Mafssal fi Tarikh al-Quds [An Articulation of the History of Jerusalem], Jerusalem, 1999.
Al-Hanbali, Mujir al-Din (d. 927 / 1520), Al-Uns al-Jalil fi Tarikh al-Quds wa al-Khalil. [The Significant Ambiance in the History of Jerusalem and Hebron], Amman, 1973.
Nazmi Al-Ju'beh "Cauldron" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2021. https://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;pa;Mus01;33;en
Prepared by: Nazmi Al-Ju'behNazmi Al-Ju'beh
Nazmi Al-Ju'beh is an archaeologist and historian and Co-Director of RIWAQ, Centre for Architectural Conservation in Ramallah, Palestine. He studied at Birzeit University in Palestine and at Tübingen University in Germany. He taught at Birzeit University and at al-Quds University. He was Director of the Islamic Museum, al-Haram al-Sharif, Jerusalem, and directed various cultural heritage projects in Palestine, including surveys of archaeological and architectural sites. He was a major contributor to Pilgrimage, Sciences and Sufism: Islamic Art in the West Bank and Gaza (Vienna: MWNF, 2004) and is the author of numerous publications on the history, archaeology and cultural heritage of Palestine.
Copyedited by: Majd Musa
Translation by: Amal Sachedina (from the Arabic).
Translation copyedited by: Mandi GomezMandi Gomez
Amanda Gomez is a freelance copy-editor and proofreader working in London. She studied Art History and Literature at Essex University (1986–89) and received her MA (Area Studies Africa: Art, Literature, African Thought) from SOAS in 1990. She worked as an editorial assistant for the independent publisher Bellew Publishing (1991–94) and studied at Bookhouse and the London College of Printing on day release. She was publications officer at the Museum of London until 2000 and then took a role at Art Books International, where she worked on projects for independent publishers and arts institutions that included MWNF’s English-language editions of the books series Islamic Art in the Mediterranean. She was part of the editorial team for further MWNF iterations: Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean Virtual Museum and the illustrated volume Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean.
True to its ethos of connecting people through the arts, MWNF has provided Amanda with valuable opportunities for discovery and learning, increased her editorial experience, and connected her with publishers and institutions all over the world. More recently, the projects she has worked on include MWNF’s Sharing History Virtual Museum and Exhibition series, Vitra Design Museum’s Victor Papanek and Objects of Desire, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt’s online publication 2 or 3 Tigers and its volume Race, Nation, Class.
MWNF Working Number: PA 33
Islamic Dynasties / Period
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