The carved inscription on this stone fragment uses an angular script employed in Egypt during the 9th and 10th centuries. Although difficult to decipher it includes the Arabic word for ‘death’, suggesting that the object could have functioned as a tombstone. The simplicity of the stone and its inscription certainly conforms to burial practice in the first centuries of Islam. Tombstones of comparable date and provenance often record the name of the individual and Qur’anic verses identify the deceased as a Muslim.
The flow of the lines in this contemporary sculpture recalls letters of the Arabic alphabet and reflects the influence of Islamic art and architecture in the work of Halima Cassell. This piece speaks of a multicultural British identity, and draws inspiration not only from the artist’s Asian heritage but also from influences closer to home, in this case Italian sculpture.