A South Arabian bronze penitential tablet for a woman Qalfum
Lot 117
A South Arabian bronze penitential tablet for a woman Qalfum
£12,000 - 15,000
US$ 19,000 - 24,000

Lot Details
A South Arabian bronze penitential tablet for a woman Qalfum
Circa 1st Century A.D.
With seven lines of Sabaean text in relief, reading 'Qalfum, daughter of Maltum has confessed (her sin) and done penance' to (the god) Dhu-Samawy, Lord of 'Adhnan, because she had menstruated in his temple. She (was) sent/exposed upon a mountain (?) through his oracle. So (then) she humbled herself and abased herself and paid (a fine?) [or 'was pardoned'], a raised border surrounding, pierced in each corner for attachment to the temple wall, 8in (20.3cm) x 5¾in (14.5cm), mounted

Footnotes

  • Provenance:
    UK private collection, acquired in 2001.
    French private collection, formed in the 1980s.

    Literature:
    Accompanied by a copy of a report from Professor Kenneth Kitchen, Liverpool University who states that the tablet originates from the former Ma'in region, The style of the script places the tablet in the period of 1st-2nd Century A.D. It belongs to a group of penitential texts. The source of the tablet can be concluded from the rare use of a place name, 'Adnan'. The text refers to the well-known god Dhu-Samawy, as 'Lord of Adnan', worshipped by the Amir people, north of the Kingdom of Ma'in. It refers to an offence against a deity, and the subsequent penance, such as paying a fine and the placing of a tablet in the temple.

    Women in old South Arabia were able to dedicate inscriptions in temples which could be penitential or prayers for well being. For further discussion of Sabaen women's inscriptions see M. Maraqten, 'Women's inscriptions recently discovered by the AFSM at the Awām temple/MaΉram Bilqīs in Marib, Yemen', in Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, 38, 2008, pp. 231–250. Maraqten refers to other inscriptions concerning the purification of women during menstruation and after childbirth: op.cit. pp.242.
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