Name of Object:

Fragment of a painted wooden panel


Damascus, Syria

Holding Museum:

National Museum of Damascus

About National Museum of Damascus, Damascus

Date of Object:

Hegira 218–27 / AD 833–42

Museum Inventory Number:

ع 16063

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Painted wood.


Length 52.2 cm, width 11.1 cm

Period / Dynasty:



Raqqa region, Syria.


In Palace B in the Raqqa region, we find a group of applied ornamental techniques executed in various materials. These include the use of plaster frames for doors and windows as well as wooden panels to cover walls and ceilings of formal imperial halls. Similar forms and techniques existed in the Umayyad period and may be found in Qasr al-Hayr al-Gharbi. This indicates a continuation of this type of palatial decoration between the Umayyad and Abbasid periods.
This rectangular fragment from a painted wooden panel is decorated with stylised floral and vegetal motifs bracketed by geometric designs. The decoration is executed in black, red, yellow and brown applied in gradual shades to make the drawings seem three-dimensional.

View Short Description

A painted wooden panel that once decorated the reception hall of an 'Abbasid palace in Raqqa reveals a high degree of expertise in three-dimensional shading of floral motifs.

Original Owner:

Caliph al-Mu'tasim Billah (r. AH 218–27 / AD 833–42)

How date and origin were established:

The object was found in Palace B in the Raqqa region. An inscription on plaster was found on one of the walls of the palace associating it with the Abbasid Caliph al-Mu'tasim Billah (r. 218–27/ 833–42). The palace is thought to have been built in around 220 (835).

How Object was obtained:

The object was recovered during archaeological excavations carried out in 1952 by the Syrian General Directorate of Antiquities under the direction of Nasib Salibi.

How provenance was established:

This piece of architectural ornamentation was found in palace B in the Raqqa region and was probably made in situ.

Selected bibliography:

Abu al-Faraj al-Ush, M., A Concise Guide to the National Museum of Damascus,
Damascus, 1969, p.158.
Andalucia, J., de- (ed), El esplendor de los Omeyas cordobeses, exhibition
catalogue, Granada, 2001.
Daiber, V., and Becker A., Raqqa III, Mainz, 2004.
Kohlmeyer, K. (ed), Land des Baal, Mainz, 1982.

Citation of this web page:

Mona al-Moadin "Fragment of a painted wooden panel" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020.;ISL;sy;Mus01;13;en

Prepared by: Mona Al-Moadin
Translation by: Hilary Kalmbach (from the Arabic)
Translation copyedited by: Mandi GomezMandi Gomez

Amanda Gomez is a freelance copy-editor and proofreader working in London. She studied Art History and Literature at Essex University (1986–89) and received her MA (Area Studies Africa: Art, Literature, African Thought) from SOAS in 1990. She worked as an editorial assistant for the independent publisher Bellew Publishing (1991–94) and studied at Bookhouse and the London College of Printing on day release. She was publications officer at the Museum of London until 2000 and then took a role at Art Books International, where she worked on projects for independent publishers and arts institutions that included MWNF’s English-language editions of the books series Islamic Art in the Mediterranean. She was part of the editorial team for further MWNF iterations: Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean Virtual Museum and the illustrated volume Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean.

True to its ethos of connecting people through the arts, MWNF has provided Amanda with valuable opportunities for discovery and learning, increased her editorial experience, and connected her with publishers and institutions all over the world. More recently, the projects she has worked on include MWNF’s Sharing History Virtual Museum and Exhibition series, Vitra Design Museum’s Victor Papanek and Objects of Desire, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt’s online publication 2 or 3 Tigers and its volume Race, Nation, Class.

MWNF Working Number: SY 19


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