'The High authority, the Lordly, the Possessor, the…'
'The High authority, the Possessor, the learned, the …'
When the famous Andalusian historian Ibn Khaldun first arrived in Cairo, the capital city of the Mamluks, in 1382 AD, he reverently described the city as “the centre of the universe and the garden of the world”. Not only were the monumental mosques and palaces impressive architecturally, but they also housed vast collections of wealthy and generous patrons.
This brass tray stand with inlaid silver decoration likely belonged to one such Amir or other highly placed official at the Mamluk court, and is one of a few dozen that have survived to the present day. Its beautiful thuluth inscription heaps praise on its patron, and the stand would have held an equally richly-decorated tray on which fruits and other foods will have been displayed. Its form and design proved so popular that porcelain imitations were made in China, most probably for the Middle Eastern market (see British Museum, London, inv. no. 1966, 1215.1).
Further examples are in the British Museum, London (inv.no. 1897,0510.1), the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (inv. nos. 935-1884.; 934-1884.; M.9-1954), the David Collection, Copenhagen (inv. no. 3/2008), the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha (inv. no. 478.2007), the Aga Khan Museum, Toronto (inv. no. AKM00726), and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (inv.nos. 91.1.568.; 91.1.601.; 91.1.528.; 91.1.598).