Museum of Islamic Art
Hegira 3rd century / AD 9th century
Wood decorated with bevelled carving.
Length 80 cm, width 20.5 cm
The Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo holds two identical wooden panels, one of which is this piece, decorated with two stylised doves that confront each other and which are intertwined with vegetal decorative motifs. Some of the detail on the doves is coloured in red, blue and white. The neck of each dove is decorated with a band containing a row of fine grains set adjacent to each other. Furthermore, the panel contains vegetal motifs in the form of lotus blossoms and winged foliage, which appears to have strong ties with similar pieces in plaster and wood made in the City of Samarra in Iraq.
The Tulunid period in Egypt (AH 254–92 / AD 868–905) was distinguished by the dominant influences of Samarra seen in many of the applied arts. Wood craftsmanship is considered to be one of the most important areas to be influenced by the styles and decoration of the Samarra style 'C' (known as the third Samarra style) in stucco, to the extent that some of the Egyptian Tulunid examples executed in wood appear almost completely identical to some of the wooden objects uncovered in the city of Samarra, many of which date to the AH 3rd / AD 9th century, and are distinctive for their bevelled stylistic carving.
This wooden panel is engraved in the decorative style brought to Egypt by artisans from Iraq who followed in the footsteps of Ahmad Ibn Tulun, founder of the Tulunid state. It is called the third Samarra style.
This object was dated based on the spread of this particular decorative style in Samarra during the 3rd / 9th century. It was a period of Tulunid rule in Egypt, and a time of migration for many artisans who, following in the footsteps of Ahmed ibn Tulun, the founder of the Tulinid state, left Samarra to settle in Egypt. It was this period that witnessed the production of precious applied-art objects, produced according to Samarran decorative styles.
The panel was bought by the Museum in 1938 from a dealer of antiquities, Maurice Nahman.
Egypt has been narrowed down as the place of production for this panel, an assumption based on the identical style of carving used on this piece compared to those used on other wood and plaster objects during this period in Egypt.
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Salah Sayour "Wooden panel" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2018. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;eg;Mus01;21;en
Prepared by: Salah SayourSalah Sayour
Salah Ahmad Sayour holds a BA in Islamic Antiquities, Faculty of Arts, Cairo University (1973) and is currently studying for an MA in the same field. In 1979 he had a four-month scholarship at Austrian museums to study museology. Preparing exhibitions for the Museum of Islamic Art's collections in the Arab World Institute, Paris and curating exhibitions held in host museums in the USA and Paris augmented his experience leading to his appointment as head of several sections at the Museum. He has written several articles on Islamic painting and arts for Prism Magazine published by the Ministry in different languages and has participated in preparing scientific texts for the catalogues for the Museum's exhibitions at home and abroad.
Copyedited by: Majd Musa
Translation by: Amal Sachedina (from the Arabic).
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: ET 37
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)Figurative Art | Animal Representation The Abbasids | Abbasid Egypt
MWNF GalleriesFurniture and woodwork
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