Gifts of the Fatimids

Jonathan M. Bloom, University Professor of Islamic and Asian Art, Boston College

Gifts of the FatimidsNot all gifts were secular, for the Fatimids also offered gifts such as manuscripts of the Qur’an and gold and silver fittings, candlesticks and chandeliers, to mosques and shrines, especially those in Arabia. As soon as they conquered Egypt, they dispatched the shamsa, a sun-shaped circular ornament, for the Kaaba in Mecca. It measured twelve spans (ca. 9 feet) across. Its background was of red brocade, around it were 12 golden crescents containing a pierced golden sphere, each holding 50 pearls the size of pigeon eggs as well as red, yellow and blue stones, and it was filled with powdered musk. Around the edge was written Surat al-Hajj (the pilgrimage chapter, Qur’an 22) in green emeralds against a ground of huge white pearls. Such gifts were carried by the annual pilgrimage caravan to Mecca along with supplies of grain, flour, wax, and oil, gifts for the notables, money, as well as the kiswa, or cloth covering, for the Kaaba, made of white Egyptian linen.

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Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, inter and intra faith endeavors, achievements and humanitarian works.

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