Local Culture

A 9th-century Tombstone

This tombstone dates to 878, found in Qayrawan. It is made from marble, likely reused from Roman ruins. The inscription in Arabic includes the name of the deceased (Ibrahim b. Muhammad), the statement of faith, and Qur’anic passages.

A 9th- or 10th-century Qur’an

This is probably the most contested source for all of early Islamic art history: the Blue Qur’an. Scholars have suggested a number of different potential provenances, but it seems likely that it was created in Aghlabid (or potentially early Fatimid?) Qayrawan (or Sicily?). Comparisons have been made to Byzantine Bibles and to Buddhist documents from China; see this post for a summary.

The Blue Qur’an is spread around the world. The pages below (as linked) are from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There are also pages in museums, such as here, here, or here. You’ll see that none of the museums match in the suggested provenance, beyond the likelihood of the 9th- or 10th-century date.

9th-century Ceramics

The Aghlabid period is famous for their ceramics, which have been labelled as “Berber” or “African” depending on who is writing the description. They frequently have stylized birds, a dotted filler, and a green and brown palette. These are associated with the Aghlabid city of Raqqada, modern Tunisia.

The Arabic inscription here reads “al-mulk,” sovereignty.