Name of Object:

Fragment of a panel with ceramic inlay


Algiers, Algeria

Holding Museum:

National Museum of Antiquities and Islamic Arts

About National Museum of Antiquities and Islamic Arts, Algiers

Date of Object:

Hegira 406–547 / AD 1015–1152

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Moulded, enamelled and lustre-painted ceramic.


Length 96 cm, width 30.5 cm, diameter of the stars 21 cm, diameter of the crosses 21 cm

Period / Dynasty:



Qal’at Bani Hammad, Algeria.


Fragment of a panel for wall-facing in ceramic marquetry, consisting of blue-green enamelled eight-cornered stars that have been combined with lustre-painted crosses with a metallic sheen that feature geometric motifs and epigraphy traced out by paintbrush. Some of the crosses are adorned with circles that enclose a motif reminiscent of a fish or of a flower on its stem, created in white against a yellow background. These circles appear in twos along each of the branches of the crosses. Other crosses are embellished with white ova on an olive green background, which appear in groups of four on the four branches of the crosses. The inscription 'al-yumn' (prosperity), executed in kufic characters in white against a yellow background, is repeated on each of branches of the crosses.
According to G. Marçais, 'this ceramic takes its inspiration from the 'Abbasid Orient, which itself borrowed from older Semitic or Byzantine civilisations'.
These kinds of ceramic tile were reserved for wall-facing and were fixed onto the wall at a certain height above floor level. They thus covered the entire surrounding wall space within the rooms of the palace. The fact that they include an inscription confirms their purpose as facings for walls rather than for floors, contrary to what might have been supposed.

View Short Description

Wall panel made of earthenware tiles decorated with eight-pointed stars in a blue glaze and crosses in a white glaze, as well as brush-painted motifs and inscriptions. It came from the Palace of the Sea (Dar al-Bahr) of Qal'at Bani Hammad.

How date and origin were established:

Fragment found in the Dar al-Bahr of the Qal'at Bani Hammad, which dates from the 5th–6th /11th–12th centuries, according to Kitab al-Istibsar: 'The Banu Hammad built a number of important constructions in the qal'a … including [the palace] known as Dar al-Bahr, at the centre of which stood a vast fountain'.

How Object was obtained:

Archaeological repository (De Beylié excavations, 1908).

How provenance was established:

From the report of the De Beylié excavation, 1909; furthermore, the piece was discovered in Dar Bahr.

Selected bibliography:

Beylié, général de, La Kalaa des Beni Hammad, une capitale berbère de l'Afrique du Nord au XIe siècle, Paris, 1909.
Golvin, L., Recherches archéologiques à la Qal'a des Banû Hammâd, (Algérie), Paris, 1965.
Marçais, G., L'architecture musulmane d'Occident, Paris, 1954.

Citation of this web page:

Houria Cherid "Fragment of a panel with ceramic inlay" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020.;ISL;dz;Mus01;42;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 75


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