Museum of Islamic Art at the Pergamon Museum
Hegira 1009 or 1012 / AD 1600–01 or 1603
Halab Shah ibn Isa.
Wood, multi-layered painting using a variety of pigments and metal coatings.
Height 260 cm, total length 35 metres
A prosperous broker and a Christian citizen of the town of Aleppo commissioned the painted panels of the walls of the entrance room in his house at the beginning of the 17th century. The paintings within the Aleppo room thus make up the oldest collection from a Syrian dwelling house from the Ottoman period. The Christian patron engaged craftsmen from the best workshops of the time in his desire for the entrance room, into which his guests would first arrive, to be painted in a variety of themes. These themes were based on contemporary Islamic book illustration, consisting of floral and geometric compositions, rendered in the best traditional Ottoman style. Christian themes from the Old and New Testaments, and the depiction of Mary with Child, sit alongside courtly scenes like those portrayed in Persian book illustration. The selection of encircling Psalms, Arabic proverbs and Persian principles further add to the impression of a peaceful community of different religious beliefs living together.
The central panels are found in the back part of the main niche, to the left and right of a wall cupboard. Courtly themes are repeated on the left-side panel, including a ruler sitting on a throne, a hunt and a hunting party with a prince holding a falcon. In contrast, Christian themes are portrayed on the right-side panel, and include the Last Supper, Salome’s dance in front of King Herod and the sacrifice of Isaac. Other panels around the room have individual depictions from either courtly or Christian subject matters, such as the love story of Leila and Majnun of Nizami (1141–1202) from the Haft Paykar, or the Virgin Mary and Child or Saint George. Real and imaginary animals are depicted alongside. It is the variety of the themes of these paintings that make these earliest surviving wall panels such a comprehensive collection, a variety that could perhaps only have arisen in the Syrian trading town Aleppo.
The name Halab Shah ibn Isa, one of the craftsmen, appears on the cornice.
Click here to watch a video presentation of this artefact.
The painted wooden panels belong to the audience room in a house of a Christian merchant in Aleppo, Syria, which is the only surviving example of a painted and dated room from the 17th century. Its ornamental and figural repertoire includes Christian themes as well as Arabic verses.
Isa ibn Butrus (Jesus, son of Peter)
Two dates are inscribed in different places in the Aleppo Room: 1009 (1600–01) and 1012 (1603).
Acquired in Aleppo by Friedrich Sarre for the Museum of Islamic Art in 1912.
The Aleppo Room was obtained in 1912 by Friedrich Sarre in Aleppo. The deeds certify that the room was originally in House Wakil in Aleppo, where it was also photographed in situ prior to 1912.
Duda, D., Innenarchitektur Syrischer Stadthäuser des 16. bis 18. Jahrhunderts: Die Sammlung Henri Pharaon in Beirut, Beiruter Texte und Studien, 12, Wiesbaden, 1971.
Gangler, A., Ein Traditionelles Wohnviertel im Nordosten der Altstadt von Aleppo in Nordsyrien, Tübingen, 1993.
Gonella, J., Ein Christlich-Orientalisches Wohnhaus des 17. Jahrhunderts aus Aleppo (Syrien),Mainz, 1996.
Ott, C., “Die Inschriften des Aleppozimmers im Berliner Pergamonmuseum”, Le Muséon 109(1–2), 1996, pp.185–226.
Sarre, F., “Bemalte Wandverkleidung aus Aleppo”, Berliner Museen, Berichte aus den Preußischen Kunstsammlungen 41(4), 1919–20, pp.143–58.
Annette Hagedorn "Aleppo Room" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;de;Mus01;39;en
Prepared by: Annette Hagedorn
Translation by: Maria Vlotides, Brigitte Finkbeiner
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen
MWNF Working Number: GE 50
Islamic Dynasties / Period
Related VideosStefan Weber presents the Aleppo Room
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)The Ottomans | Art outside the Capital
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