Quranic Feasting Dish

/ Work of the Week

Feasting Dish Inscribed with Quranic Verses commissioned by the Kingdom of Aceh Darussalam (1496-1903)
About 1600, Ming dynasty (1368-1644). Zhangzhou, Fujian Province, China, Porcelain with underglaze red and green (Swatow ware), Gift of Dr. and Mrs. James H. Blanton 1982.209

Ramadan Mubarak to all who celebrate!

In Islam, Ramadan is the holy month where Muslims fast from dawn till dusk. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, as Muslims believe Ramadan is the month when the first verses of the Quran were revealed to the prophet Muhammed.

Fasting during Ramadan is not just abstaining from eating and drinking. Muslims are also expected to abstain from smoking, gossiping, and other bad habits. While fasting, Muslims nourish their soul by focusing on things like prayer, reading the Quran, and helping those in need. Ramadan is also the month of charity.

At the end of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate Eid al Fatr, the “Festival of Breaking the Fast.” When the family gets together to feast, you need platters to serve all of the celebratory food, which brings us to the work of the week, this feasting dish with Quranic verses inscribed on it.

Why was this dish made?

This dish was made in China for the export market and was absolutely an expensive luxury item.

This feasting dish was commissioned by elite members of the Kingdom of Aceh Darussalam (1496-1903). Aceh grew rich largely from its strategic position. It controlled all sea traffic through the Strait of Malacca, the body of water that joins the Indian Ocean with the Pacific Ocean. It was important for all trade goods and travelers between East, Southeast, and South Asia.

The Words of Allah, God Almighty

The nine circles on this dish form the nine-seal format of Aceh (influenced by Indian Mughal seals). Devout Muslims understand the Quran (sometimes spelled Koran) as the words of God that were spoken in Arabic to Muhammad. This large dish, with its lavish Arabic inscriptions, would have been used for feasting in groups for celebrations, such as evening meals enjoyed after the fasting of Ramadan.

One of the verses reads: “He is God, the One. God, the Absolute. He begets not, nor was He begotten. And there is nothing comparable to Him.”

Another verse reads:

I seek refuge in the Lord of men, the King of men, the God of men, from the mischief of the jinn [evil spirits], the
slinking prompters who whispers evil in the hearts of men.