Name of Object:

Measuring instrument (mudd)

Location:

Algiers, Algeria

Holding Museum:

National Museum of Antiquities and Islamic Arts

Date:

Between Hegira 731 and 749 / AD 1331 and 1348

Type of object:

Mudd, measuring instrument, copper

Artists:

Al-Hadj al-Massaoud al-Bejaoui.

Museum Inventory Number:

II.MI.074

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Yellow copper, engraved and incised.

Dimensions:

Height 10 cm, diameter of the base 11.6 cm, diameter of the opening 8.1 cm

Period / Dynasty:

Marinid

Description:

This measuring instrument, shaped like a trunk, consists of three welded pieces. The decoration is featured along three bands. The upper band holds the beginning of an inscription written in Maghrebi characters, which indicates that the object was made under the orders of the sovereign, Abu al-Hasan, as well as indicating its function. The space left empty by the writing is decorated with double palms. The middle band is adorned with four arches; each holds an inscription in Maghrebi characters that completes the preceding one; and one of these completes the inscription on the upper band. These four inscriptions offer information on both the genealogy of the sovereign and the calibration's origin, which goes as far back as the Prophet Muhammad. The space between the arches is decorated with double palms and floral ornaments. The lower band is decorated with two curving interlacing lines. This measuring instrument features a slit-pin to which a chain is attached made of foliage hooks at either end of which are double-palm shapes that are linked to two rings.
This measuring weight of the zakat al-fitr (alms of the breaking of the Ramadan fast), used to weigh out the various cereals, was also used in commercial transactions.

View Short Description

How date and origin were established:

The inscription on the measuring instrument mentions the name of the Marinid sovereign Abu al-Hasan (r. 731–49 /1331–48).

Selected bibliography:

Dessus-Lamare, A., “Matériaux pour un catalogue du musée de Mustapha: Note sur un vase en cuivre gravé, employé comme mesure étalon”, Revue africaine, 1929, pp.162–95.
Marçais, G., Le musée Stéphane Gsell, musée des antiquités et d'art musulman d'Alger, Algiers, 1950.

Citation of this web page:

Ali Benbella "Measuring instrument (mudd)" in Discover Islamic Art , Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. http://www.museumwnf.org/thematicgallery/thg_galleries/database_item.php?itemId=objects;ISL;dz;Mus01;7;en&id=weights_and_measures

Prepared by: Ali BenbellaAli Benbella

Maître-assistant à l'Institut d'archéologie de l'université d'Alger, titulaire d'un magister en archéologie islamique, conservateur du patrimoine archéologique et historique, ancien chef du service Conservation et Valorisation (section islamique) au Musée national des antiquités, Ali Benbella a participé à plusieurs fouilles sur les sites médiévaux algériens de Mansourah (Tlemcen) et Achir (Médéa). Il a contribué à la réalisation de plusieurs expositions et catalogues établis par le Musée national des antiquités, entre autres Arts Céramiques et L'art islamique d'après une collection privée, et participé à la deuxième conférence sur les “Musées de la Méditerranée, nouveaux concepts et nouvelles perspectives” (Stockholm, 09-12 mai 2003).
Parmi ses publications, il faut citer sa contribution aux Cahiers d'Achir (rapport de fouilles, 1994), ainsi que plusieurs articles en arabe dans la revue Annales du Musée national des antiquités, le dernier sous le titre : “Pavillon des arts islamiques du Musée national des antiquités”. Il est l'auteur, dans le Medelhavsmuseet Bulletin (Stockholm, 2004), d'un article en anglais intitulé : “The National Museum of Antiquities in Algiers”.

Copyedited by: Margot Cortez
Translation by: Maria Vlotides
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen

MWNF Working Number: AL 10