long case with attached rounded rectangular inkwell; red, orange, and turquoise round beads and gems; crescent and star designs on one side; medallions with text on opposite side; wire filigree

Pen box, 19th century

Unknown artist, expand_more

Essential tools of the calligrapher are his pens and ink. This elegant case once held reed pens, and the small attached lidded jar contained ink. The ink was made of soot and gum arabic dissolved in water. In old times, the soot used was scraped from the inside of mosque lamps, thus adding an element of spiritual blessing to the writing. Made of silver alloy, the outside is decorated with beads and stones, and on one side has five silver Algerian coins, minted in the first part of the 1800s. An itinerant Muslim scribe would have worn this kind of pen box under his belt.

Details
Title
Pen box
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2019.63.2
Curator Approved

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long case with attached rounded rectangular inkwell; red, orange, and turquoise round beads and gems; crescent and star designs on one side; medallions with text on opposite side; wire filigree