Arabic pallium, 16th century

3 November 2011

Dimensions: cross-shaped appliqués: 33 x 33 cm., potamoi: 35 x 7.5 cm., decorative band: 35 x 5 cm.

The scenes are enacted against a dark green background in four-lobed circles, the vacant space in which is filled in with serpentine anthemia. The arms at the extremities of the appliqués are decorated with intertwining three-leafed anthemia.

The scenes in the four-lobed circles deal with the Passion of Christ and are accompanied by ill-spelt and abbreviated inscriptions in Greek: “HE THAT COMETH UPON THE CROSS”: the Crucifixion, without inscription, the “DESCENT FROM THE CROSS”, which includes two scenes – the removal of the body of Christ from the Cross and Christ lying on the stone on which He was anointed – and the “RE­SURRECTION”, in the type of the Descent into Hell.

The hem of the lengthwise edges of the vestment has six potamoi, three on each edge. The first two bear a Kufic inscription, read from right to left: “AL ADILATU LISAN ALLAH”, which translates as “Righteousness is the language of God”22.

It is repeated many times on each strip in such a way as to serve as decoration. Each of the four other potamoi has on it five circles which enclose four-leafed flowers, also with a Kufic feeling. The vestment can be dated by the cross-shaped appliqués, on which the scenes and the summary and ill-spelt inscriptions are reminiscent of the stole of the 15th century and that of Radu Païsié (see Nos 9-10). This Kufic script, which was in use from the 12th to the 16th century, supports dating to the 15th century.