Jerusalem Snuff Box, A Fine & Rare Carved Holy Land Mother-Of-Pearl Snuff Box With Silver Mounts Decorated With The View Of Al-Aqsa Mosque & Inscribed In Arabic (حرم قدس شريف), Bethlehem, The Ottoman Empire-Old Palestine, Late 19th. Century.

Identification Number: 486


Snuff is a smokeless tobacco powder was made from pulverised tobacco leaves.

Snuff is inhaled or snuffed after being placed by the thumb and index fingers onto the back surface of the hand delivering a small dose of nicotine and a lasting flavoured scent.

Snuff was originated in the Americas and was fashionable in Europe after the 17th. Century.

The box is of an oval shape made of a combination of finely engraved pieces of mother of pearl assembled together with silver mounts.

The rarity of this box is due to the Islamic topic engraved on the top of this box.

Christian themes inscribed with Latin or European languages on carved and engraved mother of pearl made or commissioned items which were made at the Bethlehem workshops were very common but items which were made for both the Jewish and Muslim communities are considered very rare.

Therefore our current lot which is containing very important symbol of Islam the compound of Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem which is been considered to be the third most important Holy site for the Muslim community after Mecca & Medina currently located in Saudi Arabia.

The main theme, which decorates the box, is the depiction of the compound of Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem also a crescent star which is considered to be the emblem or the flag of the ottoman empire is been engraved on top of the Al Aqsa compound site as a symbol that this Holy site is been under the patronage and protection of the ottoman empire.

Other Muslim taste decoration can be found on the box such as the floral and vegetal designs.

This rare box must had been or commissioned for a prominent Muslim individual residing in the holy lands, or in the ottoman empire in general or the Muslim world elsewhere.


The Width 10 cm.
The Height 2.8 cm.
The Depth 8 cm.


Generally Good, hair line at the backside panel, small chips and old crakes to the edges of the front panel, the upper front view of the Ottoman emblem of the crescent star has a small broken chip and replacement piece.


The European Art Market.

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