Name of Object:



Constantine, Algeria

Holding Museum:

National Museum of Cirta

About National Museum of Cirta, Constantine

Date of Object:

Hegira 406–547 / AD 1015–1152

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Cast bronze, engraved.


Height 4.2 cm, length 2.5 cm

Period / Dynasty:



Qal’at Bani Hammad, Algeria.


Small bronze bird fixed onto a base, characterised by a large hooked beak that is disproportionate to its head, a long neck and a small body that ends in a tail that splits in two. The ornamentation, equally distributed on both left and right sides, is reduced to cross-hatching on the neck and over the area of the wings, representing plumage. The eyes, engraved elliptically, are surmounted by vertical indentations. The ornamentation on the right side has been executed and traced with better skill. The rest of the body has been left smooth.
The craftsman who created this figurine probably envisioned making both a decorative piece and a functional one at the same time, like the handle on a sugar-bowl lid, a plate with a cover, etc.

View Short Description

A figurine of a bird with a large beak, somewhat out of proportion to the rest of its body, decorated with hatching and lines to representing wings. This decorative handle would have originally sat on top of a domestic utensil.

How date and origin were established:

The object was found in the Qal'at Bani Hammad (5th-6th / 11th-12th).

How Object was obtained:

Archaeological repository (Golvin excavations, 1951).

How provenance was established:

The object was found in the Qal'at Bani Hammad.

Selected bibliography:

Bourouiba, R., Les H'ammadites, Algiers, 1984.
Golvin, L., Le Magrib central à l'époque des Zirides, recherches d'archéologie et d'histoire, Paris, 1957.
Golvin, L., Recherches archéologiques à la Qal'a des Banû Hammâd, Paris, 1965.
Institut du Monde Arabe, L'Algérie en héritage, art et histoire, Paris, 2003.

Citation of this web page:

Houria Cherid "Bird" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020.;ISL;dz;Mus01;9;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 13


Related monuments

 Artistic Introduction

 Timeline for this item

Islamic Dynasties / Period


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