What, if anything, does this cake stand furniture piece say?
August 5, 2022 6:31 PM   Subscribe

I bought one of these three-tier folding copper and wood cake stands at a flea market in Louisiana. Mine is the same piece as in the first two (the eBay listing one has a more ornate wood top but otherwise also looks the same). It looks like it has Arabic script on it to me, though I don't speak/read any languages that use Arabic script so I could be mistaken and maybe it is just a decorative design..? What, if anything, does it say?

Clearly, I've been able to find several others of the one I bought via googling keywords that come to my mind, but all the descriptive text on these websites seems to be very similar and vague on this point. The vendor who sold it to me didn't know much about it other than that she had gotten it in Texas at some point in the past. Any additional info you might have would also be welcome; there is no maker's mark on it that I can see.

Also, bonus question: Mine is very tarnished/has a dark patina on the metal (it looks like the before of this copper pan before and after). If it were yours, would you merely gently clean it, or polish it up to look more like the pictured pieces?
posted by vegartanipla to Writing & Language (4 answers total)
I think that might actually be Farsi (Persian / Iranian) - Caveat being that I can’t read either Arabic or Farsi.

Personally I think bright copper is really pretty so I would probably polish it, but patina is cool too.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 7:13 PM on August 5 [1 favorite]

Also pretty dang sure it’s Farsi, but I’m looking at the photos on a tiny phone with a broken dim screen.
posted by asimplemouse at 7:37 PM on August 5

I can't read Farsi and khat (Arabic calligraphy) defeats me when it's in written in the circular but from my pov, i can see the words for 'mind' and 'submission'. It can still be Farsi but i can't see any of the usual consonant endings that mark it as such (to me) or its specific letters (eta: from the pov of Arabic expansion it kept encountering cultures that employ consonant sounds it doesn't have eg 'ch' so the major cultures tend to engineer their own when they switched). It can't be Urdu also for the same reason. My Arabic is only from my upbringing so i don't actually speak it, but based on what i can see it sounds Arabic. I think I've got family tea stands that look the same.
posted by cendawanita at 12:09 AM on August 6 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: With the potential Farsi lead, I posted a query on Reddit and received a response that it's a quote from this Gulistan of Sa'di poem in Story 21, namely the first two lines:

"When thou seest an unworthy man in good luck
Intelligent men have chosen submission.
If thou hast not a tearing sharp nail
It will be better not to contend with the wicked.
Who grasps with his fist one who has an arm of steel
Injures only his own powerless wrist.
Wait till inconstant fortune ties his hand.
Then, to please thy friends, pick out his brains."

I am fascinated with the choice to decorate a cake stand with this specific story.
posted by vegartanipla at 9:12 AM on August 6 [4 favorites]

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