Name of Object:

Fragment from a carved wooden piece


Damascus, Syria

Holding Museum:

National Museum of Damascus

About National Museum of Damascus, Damascus

Date of Object:

Around hegira 4th–5th century / AD 10th–11th century

Museum Inventory Number:

ع 14058

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Carved wood.


Length 43 cm, width 13 cm

Period / Dynasty:



Raqqa region, Syria.


In the Raqqa region one can find fragments of wood that once decorated the formal halls of its Abbasid royal palaces. It is possible to classify these fragments into three types according to their techniques of decoration. The first group is adorned with relatively realistic coloured and gilded carved ornamentation that includes floral and calligraphic motifs. The second group is carved in a slanted manner so that the edges of the carved objects appear curved and not sharp. The examples of this group are influenced by the Abbasid Samarra motifs identified as "Samarra Style C". The third group, to which this piece belongs, has decorative motifs carved in a vertical manner so that the panel appears to have an upper surface and a lower background. The decorative carving is flat with sharp edges and the groove to the background is deep, as can be seen in the small deep holes indicating the circular part of the calligraphic letters. The piece is decorated with Arabic kufic script that reads “Commander of the Faithful.” It seems to have been partially burned in a fire.

View Short Description

This calligraphic wooden panel with its sharp vertically carved angles and deep circular grooves is one example of the many carving styles that were developed in the Abbasid period and spread throughout the region.

How date and origin were established:

The carving technique used on this wood fragment is distinctly Abbasid-Islamic and was developed during the Abbasid period in Iraq and Syria.

How Object was obtained:

The piece was accidentally discovered by a resident of the Raqqa region during the early 1950s. He presented it to the archaeological expedition working there at that time.

How provenance was established:

The wooden piece was discovered in the vicinity of the Abbasid palaces in the Raqqa region, and therefore it is assumed that it was 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.

Citation of this web page:

Mona al-Moadin "Fragment from a carved wooden piece" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2018.;ISL;sy;Mus01;14;en

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

MWNF Working Number: SY 20


Related monuments

 Artistic Introduction

 Timeline for this item

Islamic Dynasties / Period


On display in


As PDF (including images) As Word (text only)