National Museum of Damascus
Hegira 664 / AD 1265
Carved Indian sandalwood.
Height 77 cm, width 1.33 m
Mosque of Khalid bin al-Walid, Homs, Syria.
The Mamluk Sultan al-Zahir Baybars undertook the task of repelling the Mongols in the AH mid-7th / AD mid-13th century as they advanced towards Egypt. In AH 664 / AD 1265, he occupied the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, including the city of Sis (Kozan), since its rulers had allied themselves with the Mongols in their war against the Muslims. On his way back to Egypt after the campaign, he stopped in the city of Homs and visited the Mosque of the Companion (of the Prophet Muhammad) Khalid bin al-Walid (d. AH 21/ AD 642), the Arab commander who led the Muslims against Byzantine forces during the time of the Prophet, and who was known as the "Sword of God". Baybars ordered the completion of a panel above the tomb of Khalid that commemorated his victory in Cilicia.
This panel is one of a series that were placed in the mosque. Its overall form is rectangular, but its upper side is in the shape of an arc. There are five lines in Arabic thuluth script carved on the panel. The text translates as follows:
(1) In the name of God, the Merciful and Compassionate, this construction in the sanctuary of the Sword of God and the Companion of the Prophet of God, Khalid bin al-Walid, may God be pleased with him, was ordered
(2) by the Lord Sultan al-Malik al-Zahir, the pillar of religion, the ruler of Islam and Muslims, the killer of unbelievers and polytheists, the killer of rebels
(3) and insurgents, the one who revives justice in the two worlds, king of the two seas, ruler of the two qiblas, servant of the two holy sanctuaries, the grace of sovereignty, the sultan of Arabs, Persians, and Turks,
(4) ruler of time and companion of the Qur'an, Baybars al-Salihi, partner of the Commander of the Faithful, may God support his rule against his enemies, in
(5) [Homs], for the victory is in the year six hundred sixty-forty after the hegira
Note: The word "forty" in line five should be "four."
This text is decorated with finely executed vegetal motifs, and has traces of green and black on it.
The text carved on this sandalwood panel commemorates the victory of the Mamluk Sultan al-Zahir Baybars against the allies of the Mongols in Cilicia and serves to associate the Mamluk ruler with the memory of other great Muslim warriors.
Sultan al-Zahir Baybars (r. AH 658–76 / AD 1260–77)
The inscription on the panel specifies the year in which it was made: hegira 664 (1265).
In 1952, the Directorate General of Museums and Antiquities was informed that there were old wooden slabs of historical value in a compartment in the Khalid bin al-Walid Mosque that needed repair. Technicians from the Directorate restored the panels before they entered the Museum's collection in 1953.
The inscription mentions that the panel was intended for the Mosque of Khalid bin al-Walid in Homs. It was probably made in situ.
Abu al-Faraj al-Ush, M., A Concise Guide to the National Museum of Damascus, Damascus, 1969, p.206.
Mona al-Moadin "Memorial Panel" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;sy;Mus01;36;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 53
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)Al-Franj: the Crusaders in the Levant | Two Mamluk Sultans against the Franks
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