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Basalt tombstone of cIsa b. Ahmad al-cAkki


Height: 64.000 cm

Gift of Capt. Charles Dugald Campbell, Indian Navy

ME OA 1928.3-5.1

Room 34: The Islamic world

    Basalt tombstone of cIsa b. Ahmad al-cAkki

    Dahlak Archipelago, Red Sea, AH 584 / AD 1188

    Signed by Abd al-Rahman b. Abi Harami al-Makki

    The Dahlak Archipelago (group of islands) in the Red Sea off Eritrea had been used as a place of exile by the early caliphs, but by the twelfth century they were ruled as an independent amirate. Enriched by trade and piracy, the inhabitants enjoyed a high standard of living. Local quarries provided the basalt stone for a series of tombstones, elegantly inscribed with Qur'anic inscriptions and the name of the deceased.

    This tombstone is inscribed with the name of cIsa b. Ahmad al-cAkki and seven of his forefathers. The inscription also includes verses from the Qur'an (51:15-19), which translate:

    'Surely the godfearing shall be among gardens and fountains
    taking whatsoever their Lord has given them;
    they were good-doers before that.
    Little of the night would they slumber,
    and in the mornings they would ask for forgiveness;
    and the beggar and the outcast had a share in their wealth.'

    The craftsman, Abd al-Rahman b. Abi Harami al-Makki, came from a Meccan family specializing in carved tombstones: another tombstone dated five years after this one includes both his name and that of his nephew, presumably his apprentice.