Name of Object:



London, England, United Kingdom

Holding Museum:

Victoria and Albert Museum

About Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Date of Object:

About hegira 676 / AD 1277–8

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Carved marble.


Height 50 cm, diameter 97 cm

Period / Dynasty:



Hama, Syria.


A large marble fountain-basin. The basin is basically a large hemisphere supported on a short foot and topped with a 12-sided rim, one side of which is blank and another of which has a section cut out to support the channel which brought water. Eleven of the sides carry an inscription giving the name and titles of the Ayyubid governor of Hama, al-Malik al-Mansur Muhammad ibn al-Muzaffar Mahmud ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Umar ibn Shahanshah ibn ‘Ayyub (also known by his shorter title of Mansur II Muhammad), who ruled from AH 641–83 / AD 1244–84. The exterior of the basin is carved with a bold design of two interlacing arabesque designs, each repeated six times in alternation and set off against a background of smaller floral decoration. Such a fine basin would probably have been placed in a prominent public mosque to serve the needs of congregants and to proclaim the glory of the ruler.

View Short Description

A large marble basin for ablutions, carved on the exterior with prominent interlacing arabesque designs. The 12-sided rim is inscribed with the name and titles of the patron, the governor of Hama. Thus the basin served both the ritual needs of the community and the governor’s public image.

How date and origin were established:

The inscription gives the date 676 / 1277–8.

How Object was obtained:

Purchased by the Museum in 1903.

How provenance was established:

The basin is inscribed with the name and titles of the Ayyubid governor in whose honour this object was made (see description above).

Selected bibliography:

Ayers, J., Oriental Art in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1983, p.111.

Citation of this web page:

Barry Wood "Basin" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2021.;ISL;uk;Mus02;9;en

Prepared 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.

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: UK2 09


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