Name of Object:

Fragment of wall decoration


Algiers, Algeria

Holding Museum:

National Museum of Antiquities and Islamic Arts

About National Museum of Antiquities and Islamic Arts, Algiers

Date of Object:

Hegira 296–467 / AD 909–1074

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Sculpted local plaster (timchent).


Length 71 cm, width 57 cm, thickness 5.5 cm

Period / Dynasty:

Rustamids of Sedrata


Sedrata, Algeria.


Fragment of wall-cladding made of timchent (local plaster) sculpted in the form of floral decoration spread over three registers separated by three frames formed of flat fillets that are themselves separated by a milled edge. In the lower register are four columns surmounted by arches in the form of rose pateras that are composed of nine very geometric palm leaves. The decoration of the second register employs symmetrical trefoil leaves that evoke a spread of vine leaves attached to their stems by large peduncles; the latter are perforated with circular holes forming lower lobes. The stems, linked to the perforated peduncles, recoil into hooks and join back on themselves to form rings.
Only a small fragment of decoration remains to be seen on the upper register, composed of stylised leaves covering the whole surface.
This fragment was discovered in three pieces and was then reconstructed.
The sculpture was executed with the aid of an 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'.
This sculpted fragment is only one part of a wall-cladding that ornamented the wall of a room in a palace.

View Short Description

Fragment of sculpted wall-cladding with floral decoration divided between three sections separated by flat or granulated lines. In the lower part, four columns support rosette-shaped arches, while in the upper part stylised leaves stretch up to the top section, of which little remains.

How date and origin were established:

From study of the inscription that features on a frieze found in the same palace. According to G. Marçais, the kufic characters of this inscription could date back to the '11th century and resemble those in Kairouan', which dates this fragment to the 5th / 11th century.

How Object was obtained:

Archaeological repository (van Berchem excavations, 1952).

How provenance was established:

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.

Selected bibliography:

Bermúdez Pareja, J., ”Crónica Arqueológica de la España Musulmana”, Al-Andalus, Vol. XX, 1955, pp.407–52.
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.

Citation of this web page:

Houria Cherid "Fragment of wall decoration" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2018.;ISL;dz;Mus01;26;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 39


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