Rasulid emblems

The Rasulids formed a dynasty which reigned over Yemen and Hadramaut between 626/1229 and 858/1454.

They accompanied the Ayyubids in their conquest of Yemen during the years 1170-1180. In 625/1228, the Ayyubid sultan left ‘Umar ibn ‘Alī to administer this region in his name. However, in 632/1235, ‘Umar proclaimed himself sultan and a diploma of recognition from the Abbasid caliph came to legitimize his action.

The Rasulids forged many links with the Mamluks, their powerful neighbors to the north, notably through embassies and by ordering precious metal and glass objects. Without us knowing why, some Rasulid sultans of the 13th and 14th centuries imitated the Mamluks by displaying emblems. Two symbols were used: the five-petalled rosette and the triangular checkerboard.

Here is the list of the emblem-bearing sultans and the objects we know they ordered:

  • al-Muẓaffar Yūsuf (647/1249-694/1295)  
  • al-Ashraf ‘Umar (694/1295-695/1296)
  • al-Mu’ayyad Dā’ūd (695/1296-722/1322)
      • A tray at the Metropolitan Museum, New York
      • A pen-box at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London
      • A bottle at the Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit
  • al-Mujahid ‘Alī (722/1322-764/1363)
      • A tray at the Musée du Louvre, Paris
      • A first basin at the Metropolitan Museum, New York
      • A second basin at the Metropolitan Museum, New York

Several objects have an unknown sponsor:

      • A glass ewer at the Museum für Islamische Kunst, Berlin
      • A vase at the Freer Gallery of Art, Washington
      • A bowl at the Freer Gallery of Art, Washington
      • A bottle at the Freer Gallery of Art, Washington
      • A tray at the State Hermitage Museum, Saint-Petersburg