Fragment of a frieze
National Museum of Antiquities and Islamic Arts
Hegira 296–467 / AD 909–1074
Sculpted local plaster (timchent).
Height 28 cm, length 50 cm, thickness 5.5 cm
Rustamids of Sedrata
Fragment of frieze made of timchent (local plaster), sculpted with epigraphic, geometric and floral decoration composed of two registers separated into three frames. The first frame consists of repeated, perforated circles, while the other two consist of plaster fillets separated by a milled edge composed of alternating small squares and voids. The epigraphic decoration that adorns the first register consists of an inscription of the word 'baraka' (benediction) in kufic characters, repeated three times, the third instance of which is incomplete. Right from the beginning of the Hegiran era, the word baraka was used as an inscription for ceramic plates, jars, copper utensils, architectural elements, etc.
The second register consists of a pattern of lozenges. Below, a small fragment of foiled and stylised leaf can be seen, which probably belonged to a third register of floral decoration.
The sculpture was executed with the aid of a iron blade acting on the timchent while it was still soft. According to H. Saladin, this local plaster derived from limestone peculiar to the region was 'applied onto cob or roughstone walls'.
The geometric ornamentation of this panel is reminiscent of what the Romans and the Byzantines from North Africa engraved onto reliquaries, architectural elements, altars, etc.
This fragment formed part of one of the long friezes that ran along the top of the wall right across the room in order to delineate the ceiling from the decoration that adorned the rest of the wall.
Frieze fragment with epigraphic, geometric and floral decoration split into three sections set apart by three frames. The first has a kufic inscription, 'baraka' (benediction), repeated three times. The second is decorated with lozenges and the third, almost completely lost, was decorated with floral motifs.
From study of the epigraphic decoration that features kufic characters, which, according to G. Marçais, could date back to the '11th century [AH 5th century] and resemble those in Kairouan'.
Archaeological repository (van Berchem excavations, 1952).
The fragment was discovered in a palace in Sedrata following the report published in the Comptes rendus de l'Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres in 1952.
Bermúdez Pareja, J., “Crónica arqueológica de la España musulmana”, Al-Andalus, Vol. XX, 1955, pp.407–452.
Marçais, G., L'architecture musulmane d'Occident, Paris, 1954.
Saladin, H., Manuel d'art musulman. L'architecture, Paris, 1907.
Van Berchem, M., “Deux campagnes de fouilles à Sédrata en Algérie”, Comptes rendus de l'Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres, 1952, pp.242–6.
Van Berchem, M., “Deux campagnes de fouilles à Sédrata (1951–1952)”, Travaux de l'Institut de recherches sahariennes, Vol. X, 1953, pp.123–38.
Houria Cherid "Fragment of a frieze" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2018. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;dz;Mus01;25;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 38
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)Geometric Decoration | Geometric Decoration in Architecture
Related MWNF Travel Book
DownloadAs PDF (including images) As Word (text only)