Pen Box with Hadith Inscription

To save your search or Lightbox, log in or create an account

Pen Box with Hadith Inscription, second half of the 14th century
Pen Box
14th century
Jalayirid period
Creation Place: Western Iran, Iran
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.)
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of Frances L. Hofer
, 1979.352
Department of Islamic & Later Indian Art
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. Please contact the curatorial department listed above for more information.
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.
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.
Frances L. Hofer, Cambridge, MA, (by 1979), bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1979.
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
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
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
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