Dedicatory inscription from a mosque, Indian Sultanate period (1206–1555), dated A.H. 905 / a.d. 1500
Gabbro; carved; H. 16 1/8 in. (41 cm), W. 45 5/16 in. (115.1 cm), Diam. 2 3/4 in. (7 cm)
Purchase, Gift of Mrs. Nelson Doubleday and Bequest of Charles R. Gerth, by exchange, 1981 (1981.320)
This stone once belonged to a mosque, as its inscription begins with a well-known hadith (saying of the Prophet) in which the Prophet promises a palace in Paradise to anyone who builds a mosque on earth. It is dated to Dhu'l-Hijja 905 (July 1500), when Prince Daniyal, from the family of Sultan Husain Shah of Bengal, erected the now-lost building.
Bengali inscriptions of the later Middle Ages often excel in the strong parallelism of the letters; the type of monumental thuluth script used in this instance has been called the "bow-and-arrow" style since the bow-shaped round letters are skillfully woven into the arrowlike straight shafts. The regularity achieved in combining the sixty verticals with the five "bows" is admirable. The stone represents a fine example of Bengali epigraphy from the time when the kingdom of Gaur was a center of literature, poetry, and the architectural arts.