SMA showcases 12th-century Maimūnah Stone

March 24, 2022 / 4:57 PM
Sharjah24: Maimūnah Stone, a unique 12th-century marble tombstone will for the first time ever be outside of its home and on display at the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization from March 22 to May 25.
The remarkable object was found on the island of Gozo in an area between Xewkija and Ta’ Sannat in Malta and carries inscriptions believed to date back to 1174 AD. 
The two-month long exhibition is held by Sharjah Museums Authority (SMA) in cooperation with the Republic of Malta represented by Heritage Malta, The Ministry for The National Heritage, The Arts, and Local Government, and the Embassy of Malta in the United Arab Emirates. 
Showcased for the first time outside of Malta, the marble stone is the only one of its kind from the Maltese islands. It depicts the name of Maimūnah bint Hassan bin Ali Al-Hudhali.
“The cooperation with our Maltese counterparts is in line with SMA’s vision to foster cultural exchange and research opportunities at the global level,” said Manal Ataya, Director-General of SMA.

“Moreover, it reflects the directives of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, in emphasizing academic endeavors and knowledge of the region especially with objects related to the Arab world and Islamic civilization and its significant interactions with other places and peoples,” she added. 

She said the Stone shows how the enduring legacy of the Arab and Islamic civilisation is still visible in Maltese culture today while also serving as a unique example of the relationships that connected the Islamic world with European countries during the Middle Ages, by depicting the vast influence of the Islamic civilization on the rest of the world.

During its display in Sharjah, SMA hopes that more research will be conducted to reveal valuable information about the stone and the inscriptions it carries.  

“We hope this will constitute a gateway to further cooperation and conversations in areas of potential exhibitions and events that achieve common goals, which particularly include placing the unique relationship between the Arab, Islamic and Western civilizations in its correct multifaceted historical context.”

Maria Calleja, Ambassador of Malta in the UAE, said: “The Maimūnah Stone is representative of an era when Malta and a good part of the Western Mediterranean were part of the Berber Emirate known as Al Moaheddin (the people who believe in one God). However, today it is putting on a different kind of dress: one as the center piece of a relationship between two museums, two peoples and two countries. The Embassy is pleased to have had the opportunity to work with two professional bodies as are Heritage Malta and the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization, where the Maimūnah Stone will stand as an ambassador for the strong bonds of intercultural and interfaith understanding that exist between the two countries.”

Mr Noel Zammit, CEO of Heritage Malta, said that the agency is striving to make the national collection accessible not only to the local public but also to international audiences, and the exhibition in Sharjah is a case in point. “Such initiatives help to understand the multicultural value of our artefacts and enrich our knowledge of these treasures, while providing a perfect example of how different national entities can work together to further enrich each other’s national identity.”

Joyce Dimech, permanent secretary at the Ministry for National Heritage and Local Government, underlined the importance of the MOU between Malta and the UAE in the field of culture and heritage, since it opens up a myriad of possibilities for cooperation in the near- and long-term future. 

She stressed that culture is an important aspect in the dialogue between different countries, and the Ministry pledges to give its full support to future collaborations.  

SMA frequently organises numerous exhibitions and is currently hosting the “Wonder and Inspiration: Venice and the Arts of Islam” exhibition, running until July 2nd at the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization; and Aref El-Rayess (1928-2005), the region’s first and major retrospective exhibition of the late prolific Lebanese artist, from February 26 to August 7, 2022 at Sharjah Art Museum.
March 24, 2022 / 4:57 PM

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