Arabic calligraphic script on paper; script is in Maghribi style, written in black ink with touches of green and rec ochre. Shadows of script (from reverse or opposite page, transferred while closed?) show through. Beige paper is browned with age at edges; upper left has repaired tear.
This page from a north African Qur’an is written in a script called Maghribi. Meaning “of the west,” this script was developed in the western region of north Africa. Maghribi is a local variant of the ancient Kufic script, known for its angular, abstracted form well suited for work with bricks and other architectural materials. As noted by former University of Michigan scholar Yasser Tabbaa, Maghribi script is characterized by sweeping curves that soften the angularity of its Kufic characters. Diacritical marks, indicated in red, facilitate the reading of this script.
The body of this cylindrical censer is decorated with eight columns spaced at regular intervals. The lid of the censer consists of an openwork dome divided into sections by eight vertical ribs that converge at its apex. An arched horizontal band intersects the midpoint of the ribs, and these eight junctures are marked with a projecting bird that holds a small bronze ball dangling from its beak. Two segments of the dome are decorated with Maltese crosses while another two feature curved plant forms. The apex is surmounted by a finial comprised of a globe topped by a Maltese cross on which a bird holding a piece of fruit perches.
During liturgical rituals this Coptic censer would have been swung on a chain attached to its lid in order to scent the church with incense. The incense, usually spices or wood gums, would have been sprinkled over a bed of smoldering coals in the body of the censer, and the sweet fragrance of the burning incense would have exited through the perforated lid. The columns encircling the body of the censer, the domed lid, and the finial give the censer the appearance of a domed church, which would have visually harmonized the censer with its setting.
This bronze light fixture consists of a central circular celestial motif from which extend twelve arms in a radial pattern. Six of these arms, embellished with maltese crosses, end in omega-shaped terminals. These decorated arms alternate with six unadorned arms that terminate in rings designed to hold glass oil lamps. The entire disk is suspended from three bronze chains joined to a large hook.
This remarkably well-preserved bronze polycandelon from Coptic Egypt features six rings around its circumference that were designed to hold conical or beaker-shaped glass oil lamps. Similar bronze polycandela were common throughout the eastern Mediterranean and were used to light the interiors of both sacred and domestic structures, but the maltese crosses on six of the radial arms of this polycandelon suggest that it originally hung in a church. Another repeated Christian motif occurs around the edge of the polycandelon where the six rings for the oil lamps alternate with six terminals in the shape of an omega--the last letter of the Greek alphabet, which was associated with Christ who declared "I am the Alpha and the Omega" (Revelation 1:8 and 22:13). These Christian symbols together with the celestial motif at the center of the polycandelon might have imbued the light cast by this fixture with a religious significance beyond its solely utilitarian function.
A stylized rendering of a human face with long narrow nose, round eyes set close to bridge of nose, and open, ellipitical mouth. The head is carved in shape of a coiffure that resembles a helmet which extends down the sides of the head. The head is topped with a high arched sagital crest. Patina is dark brown in color with traces of red and blue pigment. Sheet metal cut in circles and long strips embellish the top of the head.
This carved puppet head is part of the repertory of characters in the Sogo bò, a puppet masquerade performed by Bamana youth organizations. Still active today, Sogo bò--literally, “the animal comes forth”-- is an important dramatic venue for youth to explore and comment on the tensions between traditional values and contemporary experience. See also 1971/2.22 and 1971/2.23.