Name of Object:



Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Turkey

Holding Museum:

Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts

About Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, Sultanahmet

Date of Object:

Beginning hegira 7th century / AD 13th century

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Cast and engraved bronze.


Height 65 cm, diameter (of mouth) 49 cm

Period / Dynasty:

Artuqid period


Southeastern Anatolia, probably Diyarbakır, Turkey.


A cast bronze drum with a wide mouth, a body that narrows toward the bottom, and a flat base. The exterior of the rim of the drum has four handles and a row of large pegs for attaching the drumhead. The body is covered with three friezes of engraved decoration.

The main frieze consists of arabesques above which is set an inscription in monumental kufic script whose letters' verticals terminate in dragon and human heads, the latter in pairs. The dragon heads closely resemble those on the door knockers of the Ulu Cami (Great Mosque) in Cizre. The second frieze consists of spiral arabesques, while the lower frieze is made up of plaited bands with stylised palmettes. The style of the dragon heads and arabesques is further evidence for a provenance of the Artukid region in the AH 7th / AD 13th century.

View Short Description

This cast bronze drum was used as a ceremonial drum in army bands. It is a rare masterpiece of AH 7th- / AD 13th-century Artuqid metalwork with its calligraphic script and floral and figurative decoration.

How date and origin were established:

The human- and dragon-headed kufic calligraphy that adorns the bronze drum, although it is unparalleled, is related in many ways to works from the beginning of the 7th / 13th century (for example, a footed bowl from Napolitan Pinacoteca, which is dated to the first quarter of the 13th century and attributed to Iran; and a ewer from the British Museum, considered a work of the Khurasan school). These similarities, as well as the fact that it was found at Diyarbakır in southeastern Anatolia, allow us to date the drum to the period of the Artuqid Melik Nasireddin [Nasr al-Din] Mahmud (r. 596–618 / 1200–22).

How Object was obtained:

The object was transferred from Diyarbakır to the Topkapı Palace Museum, and then in AD 1951 to the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts.

How provenance was established:

In the monumental kufic script on the body, those letters which occur in pairs end with crowned human heads, while single letters end in dragon heads. These can be seen to resemble the dragon heads on the door knockers of the Ulu Cami (Great Mosque) in Cizre. This is evidence that the bronze drum was made in Artukid region during the same period.

Selected bibliography:

Ağaoğlu, M., 'Islamische Metallarbeiten aus Istanbuler Museen', Belvedere XI (1932), p.14.

Erginsoy, ü., Turkish Metalwork, The Art and Architecture of , (ed) E. Akurgal, Fribourg, 1980, pp.208–21.

Kühnel, E. and Ogan, M. A., İstanbul Arkeoloji Müzelerinde Şaheserler, Vol. III, çinili Köşk'de Türk ve İslam Eserleri Koleksiyonu, Berlin and Leipzig, 1938.

ölçer, N. et al, Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art, Istanbul, 2002, pp.98–9.

Sourdel-Thomine, J., and Spuler, B., Die Kunst des Islam, Berlin, 1973.

Citation of this web page:

Alev Özay "Drum" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2018.;ISL;tr;Mus01;5;en

Prepared by: Alev ÖzayAlev Özay

Alev Özay is an expert at the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts in Istanbul. She was born in Ankara, Turkey in 1942. She graduated from the Department of Ancient Near Eastern Languages and Cultures of the Faculty of Letters, Istanbul University. She first worked at the museums of Tekirdağ and Kayseri. She attended Ottoman language courses in 1976–7 and restoration and conservation courses in 1982 organised by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. She published an article on the “Turbe of Sultan Ahmet” in 1979 and in 1983 prepared the catalogue for the Exhibition on Islamic Arts in the 15th Century of the Hijra.

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 07


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