India, Deccan, Hyderabad
Sandstone; carved, traces of pigment; Diam. 18 1/2 in. (47 cm), D. 1 3/16 in. (3 cm), Wt. 10 lbs. (4.5 kg)
Edward Pearce Casey Fund, 1985 (1985.240.1)
India is famous for its stonework, and a Persian source tells us that a calligrapher from Iran came to the Deccan in the mid-fifteenth century, penned a large inscription for a mausoleum, "and the Telegu craftsmen, with miracle-working fingers, executed the complicated patterns in stone." This sandstone roundel from the Deccan, which probably dates to the late sixteenth or early seventeenth century, clearly shows the skill of both the calligrapher and the stonecutter. The Arabic invocation Ya 'aziz, "Oh Mighty!" (one of the ninety-nine Most Beautiful Names of God), is repeated eight times in mirrored thuluth script. An eight-pointed star emerges from the shafts of the letter a, while the z's of 'aziz, mirrored and knotted, form a heart-shaped ornament. The calligraphy is reminiscent of the inscriptions in the Ibrahim Rauza, the mausoleum of Sultan Ibrahim 'Adil Shah (r. 1580–1627) in Bijapur; the number eight, aside from its geometrical qualities, points also to eternal bliss and the eight paradises of which the Islamic tradition speaks.