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"Mihrab" Plaque


Description Conservation Exhibitions Provenance Inscription Credit
Description A "mihrab" is a niche in a mosque or other Muslim religious building that indicates the direction for prayer toward Mecca. It also recalls the place where the prophet Muhammad stood to lead the early Muslim community in prayer, and symbolizes both the entrance of God's presence into the place of worship and the gateway to heaven. Ceramic plaques in the shape of "mihrabs" are often found in shrines and mausoleums and on tombstones and cenotaphs (funerary monuments), where they may have had a commemorative or memorial function. With its combination of molded and painted decoration, this blue and brown lusterware work is typical of ceramic "mihrab" plaques made in medieval Iran. The large inscription in the outer frame begins with the "bismallah" ("In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate") and continues with a Qur'anic verse that refers directly to the recitation and prayer that Muslims perform in front of a "mihrab": "Establish regular prayers at the sun's decline till the darkness of the night, and the morning prayer and reading: for the prayer and reading in the morning carry their testimony" (Sura al-Bani Isra'il: chapter 17, verse 78). One of the final, and shortest, chapters of the Qur'an (Sura al-Ikhlas: chapter 112) is inscribed on the white band around the central arch.
Conservation
Date Description Narrative
2/17/1972Treatmentrepaired; loss compensation
2/26/1980Examinationexamined for condition
2/28/1980Treatmentcleaned
2/28/1980Treatmentcleaned; loss compensation; other
6/15/2001Treatmentloss compensation; cleaned; coated; repaired
Exhibitions
  • Islamic Insights. Katonah Gallery, Katonah. 1980.
Provenance Henry Walters, Baltimore [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Inscriptions [Translation] "bismallah": In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate; [Translation] From Sura al-Bani Isra'il: chapter 17, verse 78: Establish regular prayers at the sun's decline till the darkness of the night, and the morning prayer and reading: for the prayer and reading in the morning carry their testimony; [Inscription] From Sura al-Ikhlas: chapter 112 on white band around central arch
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters

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Creator
Period
1276-1277 (Medieval)
Medium
fritware with underglaze and luster decoration
(Ceramics)
Accession Number
48.1310
Measurements
18 9/16 x 14 1/4 x 1 15/16 in. (47.2 x 36.2 x 5 cm)
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