- Gallery Text
As central control weakened in the Abbasid Empire, regional dynasties arose to support, challenge, or redefine the authority of the caliph in Baghdad. The arts flourished in many centers, and wealthy merchant and professional classes emerged. A dramatic increase in productivity and innovation and an unprecedented expansion of figural decoration characterize the arts of this period.
A transforming event was the influx of Turkic and Mongol peoples from Central and Inner Asia. Most of the objects in this case were created in lands ruled by the most important of the Turkic dynasties, the Great Seljuks (1038–1157), and their immediate successors, the Atabegs. The Mongol invasions into Islamic lands began in the early 1200s and culminated in the 1258 sack of Baghdad. Eventually, the Mongols established their rule as the Yuan dynasty in China, the Chagatay Khanate in Central Asia, the Golden Horde Khanate in southern Russia, and the Ilkhanid dynasty (1256–1335) in greater Iran. The integration of a vast Eurasian territory into the Mongol Empire facilitated commerce and communication, bringing fresh Chinese inspiration into Islamic art.
- Identification and Creation
- Object Number
- Pen Box with Hadith Inscription
- Artists' Tools
- Work Type
- pen box
- second half of the 14th century
- Creation Place: Middle East, Iran, Western Iran
- Jalayirid period
Level 2, Room 2550, Art from Islamic Lands, The Middle East and North Africa
View this object's location on our interactive map
- Physical Descriptions
- Brass, incised (thuluth band) and inlaid with silver and gold
- H. 4.5 x W. 5.4 x L. 24.8 cm (1 3/4 x 2 1/8 x 9 3/4 in.)
- Inscriptions and Marks
inscription: Inscribed in Arabic, in human-headed thuluth script:
The Prophet, peace be upon him, said,
"The believer is the mirror of the believer."
The Prophet of God has spoken truly.
- inscription: Inscribed in Arabic, in human-headed thuluth script:
- Frances L. Hofer, Cambridge, MA, (by 1979), bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1979.
- Acquisition and Rights
- Credit Line
- Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of Frances L. Hofer
- Accession Year
- Object Number
- Asian and Mediterranean Art
- The Harvard Art Museums encourage the use of images found on this website for personal, noncommercial use, including educational and scholarly purposes. To request a higher resolution file of this image, please submit an online request.
- This penbox is very unusual in bearing such lavish and intricate decoration on the lid and the clasps, and being otherwise completely plain. Such an object would normally have decoration on all sides, including the interior and the bottom. The Arabic inscription in human-headed script is a hadith, or a quote ascribed to the Prophet Mohammed. This is also rare on Islamic metalwork, which usually bears benedictory phrases, verses from the Quran, dedications to rulers, or information about the artist. Notes from the Glory and Prosperity exhibition, Feb - June 2002.
- Publication History
Kristin A. Mortimer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums/Abbeville Press (Cambridge, MA; New York, NY, 1985), page 82/figure 87
Harvard University Art Museums, Director's Report / Harvard University Art Museums, 1990-1991 (1992), p. 14
Annemarie Schimmel, Terres d'Islam: Aux Sources de l'Orient Musulman, Maisonneuve et Larose (Paris, France, 1994), Pg. 107
Rahim Habibeh, Inscription As Art In the World of Islam - Unity In Diversity, exh. cat., Hofstra University (Hempstead, NY, 1996), page 34/figure 1
Melanie Michailidis, Glory and Prosperity: Metalwork of the Islamic World, brochure, ed. Marsha Pomerantz, Harvard University Art Museums (2002), p. 3, fig. 3
- Exhibition History
Islamic Art and the Written Word, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 10/05/1983 - 11/27/1983
The Heavenly Court: Persian Poetry and Painting, Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 02/09/1985 - 03/31/1985
Geometry of the Spirit: Islamic Illumination and Calligraphy, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 04/30/1988 - 06/26/1988
Enter Ye the Garden: Prayer Rugs of Islam, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 05/26/1989 - 08/20/1989
Arabesque, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 12/01/1990 - 03/24/1991
Transformations: Asia East and West, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 12/19/1992 - 02/14/1993
Calligraphy and the Arts of the Book, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/25/1993 - 01/30/1994
The Continuous Stroke of a Breath: Calligraphy from the Islamic World, Harvard University Art Museums, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 12/20/2003 - 07/18/2004
Overlapping Realms: Arts of the Islamic World and India, 900-1900, Harvard University Art Museums, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 12/02/2006 - 03/23/2008
Re-View: Arts of India & the Islamic Lands, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 04/26/2008 - 06/01/2013
32Q: 2550 Islamic, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/01/2014
- Subjects and Contexts
Google Art Project
This record was created from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator; it may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at firstname.lastname@example.org