Seal of the Dome of the Rock
Islamic Museum, al-Aqsa Mosque / al-Haram al-Sharif
Hegira 13th century / AD 19th century
Diameter 16 cm
A circular seal made of copper with incised lines that demarcate a square, the corners of which are cut along the circumference of the piece. In the middle of the seal there is a horizontal depiction of the Dome of the Rock, octagonal in form, and in the middle of which is a circle. Portrayed within the circle is what is considered to be the footprint of the Prophet Muhammad, and inscribed below it the words: “Foot of the Prophet”.On top of the carving designated as the footprint of the Prophet, is the Dome of the Rock crowned by a crescent. Within the circle on each side of the Dome building, there is a tree resembling a palm. It is not known whether the two palms have symbolic meaning, perhaps they were drawn simply to fill empty space. Between the middle circle and the octagon there are eight arched niches, designating the interior octagon of the Dome of the Rock. Above the upper side of the octagonal is the façade of the Dome of the Rock, composed of the drum and the dome, and topped by a relatively large crescent. The horizontal depiction of the Dome of the Rock and the Dome's façade is surrounded on three sides by buildings; three portrayals of arcades appear, again surrounding the Dome of the Rock. These are likely to be depictions of: the southern arcade, which opens out in the direction of al-Aqsa Mosque; the south-western arcade, which opens out in the direction of the Bab al-Silsila (Gate of Chains) and the eastern arcade, which opens out in the direction of Bab al-Rahma (Gate of Mercy). The northern arcade, however, hidden by the portrayal of the Dome and its crescent, does not appear. The names of the buildings appear beside the illustrations of them, including the Dome of the Rock and the names of its four gates: Bab al-Janna (The Gate of Heaven), Bab al-Salaam (The Gate of Peace), Bab al-Sakhra (Dome of the Rock Gate), and Bab al-Mizan (the Balance Gate). Similar captions appear beside the illustrations of the Dome of the Mi'raj, the Minbar al-Sharif (Minbar of Burhan al-Din), Qubbat al-Arwah (Dome of the Spirits) and Qubbat al-Silsila (Dome of the Chain). Depicted on the eastern side of the Dome of the Rock is an illustration of a plant that resembles a flower, which is not present to the east of the Dome of the Rock. Historically, there was a dearth of plants in the surrounding environs of the building.
It is possible that the seal was used as authorisation to enter the Dome of the Rock. Or perhaps, it was used to seal the papers of visitors who hoped to be blessed by such an image, or to commemorate their visit to the Dome of the Rock. It might also have been used as some form of shorthand guidebook for the visit.
This is a circular copper panel in the middle of which is a layout of the Dome of the Rock. It also shows the surrounding buildings and the staircases which lead to the plaza of the Dome. It might have been used as authorisation to enter the Dome or perhaps to seal papers of visitors to take home as a blessing or as a souvenir of their visit.
Islamic Awqaf (Endowments), Jerusalem
The piece was dated based on a comparison with another seal which bears the names of holy places in Palestine and the date of which has been narrowed down to the 13th / 19th century.
The piece was transferred at an unknown date from the Haram al-Sharif to the Islamic Museum.
Jerusalem was narrowed down as the place of production for the seal; the images on it were probably implemented in the area.
Nazmi Al-Ju'beh "Seal of the Dome of the Rock" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2021. https://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;pa;Mus01;44;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 44
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)The Ottomans | Guardians of the Holy Sites Pilgrimage | The Quest for Baraka – Pilgrimage to Jerusalem and Palestine
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