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At the Crossroads: Ancient Middle Eastern & Islamic Art

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Calligraphic Frieze

16th Century
12 x 50 x 5 1/4 in. (30.5 x 127 x 13.3 cm)

Unknown, North Indian
Indian

Object Type: Stonework
Medium and Support: Red sandstone
Credit Line: The Marie Adelaide Devine Fund
Accession Number: 2009.8
Location: Currently on view
Link to this object

This fragment of a calligraphic architectural frieze is characteristic of North Indian Islamic monumental architecture during the later Sultanate period (1206-1526). The inscription on this fragment, “To Him belongs what is in the heavens and what is on earth. No one may intercede…” is from Surah (chapter) 2:255 of the Qur’an. This verse, called the “Throne Verse,” was frequently used for architectural inscriptions in mosque complexes and tombs. The entire inscription would have been carved in sandstone on high friezes around the interior walls.

"God. There is no deity but Him, the living, the eternal!
Drowsiness does not overtake Him, nor sleep. To Him belongs
what is in the heavens and what is on the earth. No one may
intercede with Him save by His permission. He knows what is
before them, and what is behind them, yet they comprehend
nothing of His knowledge, save as He wills. His throne
encompasses the heavens and the earth, and He does not weary
of preserving them. He is the sublime, the magnificent!”

[Gallery label text, 2009]

Provenance
English private collection since the early 1960s; Sam Fogg (dealer), London; purchased from him by the Gallery in 2009

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