A Close-Up Look of Hishām’s Casket


  • Ana Labarta Universitat de València


Silverware, Caliphate, 10th c., al-Ḥakam II, Gerona casket


The present article studies the Andalusian casket that has been kept in the Cathedral of Girona since at least 1511. This is the only surviving example of an object made in precious metal for an Andalusi caliph. It was commissioned by al-Ḥakam II as a gift for his son Hishām, the heir to the caliphate, and can be dated to 976 or a little earlier. This essay describes its shape, offers its measures and comments in detail the different components of this unique piece of silverware: the wooden box, the gilded silver plates that cover it, and the other pieces of metalwork (handle, metal mounts, clasp). It deals with the motifs and the techniques (embossing, gilding, and niello) used in its decoration. The chiseled silver bottom of the casket, the chiseled decoration hidden under the locking mechanism and the inside of the box, which today is empty and lined with red silk fabric, are shown here for the first time.