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Part of the continuing series of online exhibitions from the Smithsonian's Freer & Sackler Galleries, Caliphs & Kings provides a sample of the rich history of Islamic Spain, called al-Adalus, from the 8th to the 15th centuries. Online visitors can closely examine ten artworks selected from about ninety on display at the museum through October 2004. A featured work is a 10th century ivory pyxis, or cylindrical container, probably made as a special gift for the favorite concubine of the Umayyad caliph, that includes a poetic inscription in which the container speaks in the first person and describes its function as "a vessel for musk and camphor and ambergris." There are also examples of lusterware; textiles, both carpets and bed coverings; a walnut and ivory chest from Barcelona; an illuminated Hebrew bible from the second half of the 15th century; a gold coin for 50 excelentes issued in about 1497, and a map of the world drawn by Florentine cartographer Juan Vespucci, nephew of Amerigo Vespucci, in 1526 that shows Spain as a superpower at the center of all things.
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