Fountain with ‘Kufic’ Design

North India
Late 18th century
White Marble
W 71.5 cm, L 82.5 cm, H 5cm

The present marble fountain is a rare Islamic Indian object, particularly for its abstracted ‘calligraphic’ design. Most likely made for a Mughal pleasure garden, it would have been a focal point of this idyllic environment. The pure white marble has been sculpted to create a compelling square Kufic design, abstracted from the early form of Kufic Arabic script. By referencing the divine Name, the sculpted design reads “la ilaha illa Allah” and attains deep meaning by evoking godly protection.

Fountains and geometric design are important features of Islamic gardens, themselves usually organised in geometric layouts divided by walkways and flowing water. The Islamic garden has deep religious significance, conceived as an earthly form of paradise, and intended for rest, reflection and contemplation. It provides a truly multi-sensory experience, devised around the use of water, symbol of life and the divine, and aromatic plants, where sounds, sights and scents compose a peaceful atmosphere conducive to transcendence.

Poetry is intimately connected to the Islamic garden as a space of multiple sensations, where the poet would contemplate nature, reflect on life and feel closer to the divine.


Provenance: Private collection, UK, 1970s.

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