Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Turkey
Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts
Hegira 6th century / AD 12th century
Height 89 cm, width 91 cm, depth 10 cm
A grey marble slab that is rectangular and nearly square, on which two figures of warriors are carved in high relief. The figures have been depicted within a frame delineated by a deep contour line. Their heads are shown in profile, their bodies from the front; they wear helmets with pointed tops, armour, and short boots. They are shown with one foot forward, as if attacking. The figure on the left has a sword in one hand and a shield in the other. The figure on the right is holding his sword in one hand while grasping the sword's scabbard in the other. Both figures are shown in military dress, and their garments, as well as the details of their bodies, are defined with carved outlines.
The tree with split-palmette leaves on the right-hand side of the slab, as well as the vegetal forms used as fillers in the upper corners, shows the influence of Sassanid on Islamic decorative arts. The warriors' clothes and pointed helmets show similarities with those seen in medieval Crusader painting, offering valuable documentary evidence about military dress and equipment of the period.
Konya was the capital of the Anatolian Seljuq Sultanate during the AH 6th–7th / AD 12th–13th centuries and its citadel was decorated with rich figurative reliefs. This warrior relief not only depicts the military costume and arms of the period but also is an important document for the period.
Konya citadel, where it is thought this object originated, dates to the 6th / 12th century. For this reason the object is dated to the same century.
The relief was transferred to the Tiled Pavilion (çinili Köşk), Istanbul, in 1870 as part of the 19th-century initiative to collect artworks from across the country. The object was transferred to the Museum in 1941.
It is known from several sources (e.g. the journals of the 19th-century French traveller Charles Texier) that the citadel at Konya, capital of the Anatolian Seljuqs, was adorned with figurative decoration in stone. This object is thought to have belonged to the citadel, which does not survive. It is thus probable that it was made in the vicinity of Konya.
Anadolu Medeniyetleri III, Selçuklu-Osmanlı, Istanbul, 1983, p.81.
Ogan, M. A., Kühnel, E., İstanbul Arkeoloji Müzelerindeki Şaheserler, Vol. III, çinili Köşk'te Türk ve İslam Eserleri Koleksiyonu, Berlin-Leipzig, 1938, p.36.
Ölçer, N. et al, Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art, Istanbul, 2002, p.114.
Rice, T. T., The Seljuqs, London, 1961, fig. 61.
Gönül Tekeli "Warrior relief" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;tr;Mus01;10;en
Prepared by: Gönül Tekeli
Translation by: Barry WoodBarry Wood
Barry Wood is Curator (Islamic Gallery Project) in the Asian Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He studied history of art at Johns Hopkins University and history of Islamic art and architecture at Harvard University, from where he obtained his Ph.D. in 2002. He has taught at Harvard, Eastern Mediterranean University, the School of Oriental and African Studies, and the Courtauld Institute of Art. He has also worked at the Harvard University Art Museums and the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. He has published on topics ranging from Persian manuscripts to the history of exhibitions., İnci Türkoğluİnci Türkoğlu
İnci Türkoğlu has been working as a tourist guide and freelance consultant in tourism and publishing since 1993. She was born in Alaşehir, Turkey, in 1967. She graduated from the English Department of Bornova Anatolian High School in 1985 and lived in the USA for a year as an exchange student. She graduated from the Department of Electronic Engineering of the Faculty of Architecture and Engineering, Dokuz Eylül University, Izmir, and the professional tourist guide courses of the Ministry of Tourism in 1991. She worked as an engineer for a while. She graduated from the Department of Art History, Faculty of Letters, Ege University, Izmir, in 1997 with an undergraduate thesis entitled “Byzantine House Architecture in Western Anatolia”. She completed her Master's at the Byzantine Art branch of the same department in 2001 with a thesis entitled “Synagogue Architecture in Turkey from Antiquity to the Present”. She has published on art history and tourism.
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: TR 17
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)Al-Franj: the Crusaders in the Levant | Saladin in the Holy Land
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