Monthly Archives: May 2013

Help with Recognizing This Piece of Islamic Art

It has been hectic these past few months. As you might know by now, I am currently doing my usual day work as well as studying in my spare time. So at the moment, I don’t really have time to do anything else, let alone to blog extensively as I did a few months ago, when my priorities are still loose, and time is very much at my side.
However, I see this as a challenge, and I am trying to divide my time between studying, working, and other things that is required of the Human Soul i.e sleeping, eating and leisure to avoid being crazy. And now here I am! I just finished sending some work emails, and as I am typing this, I am actually listening to a recording of a lecture of one of the course I am studying, all while watching a Japanese Drama currently on TV. Talking about multitasking, eh?
However, this will be just a small short post. A few weeks ago (or was it few months ago?) I received a curious email in this blog’s inbox. This email is from a lady in Australia who happened upon an interesting piece of Islamic Metalwork, and asked me about the origins, the designs and the materials et al regarding the artwork, which is a metal plate, decorated with strange, although still Islamic, designs. This is the picture of the plate in question –

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I took the liberty of rotating the picture, so to show the curious script around the perimeter of the plate, decorating the surface. The decorations are apparently affixed onto the brass plate using wires of copper and iron and/or silver. This is my reply to the lady  –

These kind of brass plates are common in the Islamic world – mostly in the Arab countries. You can find them in souks and bazaars from Turkey to Damascus, Cairo to Morocco and Spain. Some of them are original, new designs, but most of them are replicas or done in a traditional design, since they are produced as early as the 11th Century, so you might come across an antique. These plates are often made with different kinds of metals for the contrast of colours – you can find gold plates inlaid with silver, or in the case of your plate, copper and silver. I can also see brass there, although I need to see it in person to really know.

About the calligraphy, I can make out the inscription وصل من لله which means, if my Arabic is correct, Arrived/received from God. However, there are some weird almost nonsensical characters and annotations in the inscription, such as ا (Alif) annotations between the من (Meen, meaning from). There is also a ر (Ra’) after the word الله (Allah, meaning God) which combined, makes no sense. Perhaps the maker of the plate just put the character there to fill in the space, although to be logical, he can fill the whole space with the  الله but this is merely just my opinion.

I cannot really judge the age of the plate, although, looking at the design ( which is quite simple and more modern, in Islamic art sense,compared to other plates) I might guess that it is made in the last century, perhaps 50 or 40 years ago. The Arabesques used are very simple and are common in Syria and the surrounding areas.

These are, of course, is a general study of the plate from an amateur’s point of view. I asked the lady if I can ask my readers, you, on your comments on the artwork. Perhaps you have a more specific information of this piece? Or perhaps you have another copy of the plate? Or perhaps it was you who made this plate?

Give us your information or ideas regarding the plate by commenting on this post, or by emailing me, or by using this handy new contact form below!

 

UPDATE : I actually received an email from someone named KS and pointed out the last word is actually سار which means to walk. The letter س was very stylized it looks like another word! so the inscription as a whole is وصل من سا. Thanks KS! 🙂

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