Fragment from a carved wooden piece
National Museum of Damascus
Around hegira 4th–5th century / AD 10th–11th century
Length 43 cm, width 13 cm
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.
The carving technique used on this wood fragment is distinctly Abbasid-Islamic and was developed during the Abbasid period in Iraq and Syria.
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.
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.
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.
Mona al-Moadin "Fragment from a carved wooden piece" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2018. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;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
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)The Abbasids | Al-Raqqa: Caliph Harun al-Rashid’s Capital in Syria
DownloadAs PDF (including images) As Word (text only)