Name of Object:

Fragment of plate


Setif, Algeria

Holding Museum:

National Museum of Setif

About National Museum of Setif, Setif

Date of Object:

Hegira 406–547 / AD 1015–1152

Museum Inventory Number:

IS. 02

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Turned ceramic with painted decoration on lead glaze.


Height 9.50 cm, length 16 cm, diameter of the base 13 cm

Period / Dynasty:



Qal’at Bani Hammad, Algeria.


Fragment of a ceramic plate, ornamented with an animal and epigraphic representation that has been traced out in brown with a paintbrush on a lead glaze. The circular band surrounding the animal decoration features an inscription in kufic characters, the contours of which are traced in brown. The space between these characters is also painted brown. The inscription consists of a word repeated twice, 'al-yumn' (prosperity). The first word is preceded by the last letter of the word itself, and the second is followed by the first letter of this word, suggesting that the word was repeated around the entire circumference of the band. The animal decoration sits at the centre of the plate, surrounded by a circle, and consists of a fragmented lion represented by a head and a section of shoulder. The head is turned to the front, the eyes are wide open, and the mane is dense and wavy. The lower part of the face is missing, but the first photograph of this fragment, published by Golvin (see Bibliography), shows the missing part of the face: the muzzle, the 'moustache' and a part of the falling mane, giving the impression that the lion is in movement. The space between the lion and the circle is ornamented with two trefoil motifs, one complete and the other incomplete, which suggests that this motif was repeated right around the lion. A remaining section of the circular base can be seen at the back of the fragment. Two other fragments of the same plate are kept at the National Museum of Cirta. One of these features the outline that delineates the lion's back and snake-like tail, and the word 'al-yumn' on the band.
The use of brown is one of the characteristics of Hammadid ceramics. The thinness of the paste and the presence of painted motifs indicate that it forms part of an expensive piece of crockery in comparison to other shards found in the Qal'at Bani Hammad.

View Short Description

Fragment of a dish decorated with the representation of a lion in the centre and an inscription brush-painted around the edge in brown, a colour common in Hammadid ceramics, on top of a lead glaze. The inscription in kufic characters repeats the word 'al-yumn' (prosperity).

How date and origin were established:

The fragment was found in the Qal'at Bani Hammad (5th–6th / 11th–12th). In addition, it features the formal characteristics of Hammadid ceramics and pottery.

How Object was obtained:

Archaeological repository (Golvin excavations, 1951).

How provenance was established:

Document by L.Golvin, 1965.

Selected bibliography:

Bourouiba, R., Les H'ammadites, Algiers, 1984.
Golvin, L., Recherches archéologiques à la Qal'a des Banû Hammâd, Paris, 1965.

Citation of this web page:

Houria Cherid "Fragment of plate" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020.;ISL;dz;Mus01;14;en

Prepared by: Houria CheridHouria Cherid

Titulaire d'un magister en archéologie islamique (1992), enseignante à l'Institut d'archéologie de l'université d'Alger de 1992 à 1999, conservateur du patrimoine archéologique et historique au Musée national des antiquités de 1994 à 2002, puis conservateur en chef à partir de 2002, Houria Cherid est chef du service Labo-photo, département Animation et Documentation au Musée national des antiquités. Elle a publié de nombreux articles dans les Annales du Musée national des antiquités et prépare actuellement un doctorat en archéologie islamique.

Copyedited by: Margot Cortez
Translation by: Maria Vlotides
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen

MWNF Working Number: AL 21


Related monuments

 Artistic Introduction

 Timeline for this item

Islamic Dynasties / Period


On display in

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Figurative Art | Animal Representation

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Calligraphy Ceramics


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