Name of Object:
Rectangular piece of wood
Museum of Islamic Art
Date of Object:
Hegira 5th century / AD 11th century
Museum Inventory Number:
Material(s) / Technique(s):
Wood; decorated with low-relief carving.
Length 370 cm, width 30 cm
Period / Dynasty:
A rectangular piece of wood decorated with low-relief carvings, which was probably once part of a high frieze. The decorations are arranged along two narrow bands, which hem-in a wider band lying in between them. Both of the narrow bands are embellished with vegetal decorative motifs, such as branches, surrounded by tri-lobed rosettes and fan-leaf palmettes. The central band is embellished with scenes of naturalistic human and animal activity, such as a hunting scene; a bird with a human face is also present. The scene is played out against a background of vegetal decoration, and surrounded by geometric compositions. The decorative components were originally painted which would have highlighted the detail. Symmetry and alternation were the twin dynamics that helped harmonise and defuse the decorative components.
View Short Description
This item is an example of carving on wood from the Fatimid period, influenced by Abbasid styles from Samarra that spread all over the Islamic world. Decoration is based on hunting scenes and animal shapes on a background of vegetation.
How date and origin were established:
This piece was dated through study of the decorative components that appear on it, the style of representation, and by comparison with other analogous decorative pieces.
How Object was obtained:
The object was transferred from the Mausoleum of Qalawun in the Nahassien (coppersmith's) district, and received by the Museum in 1909.
How provenance was established:
In view of the fact that the panel was almost certainly made for the Fatimid Western Palace, it is likely that it was made by craftsmen employed in the atelier of Caliph al-Aziz bi-Allah and produced especially to furnish the palace.
Abu Sadira, al-Said T., Al-Hiraf wa al-Sana'at fi Masr al-Islamiyya [Handicrafts and Manufacture in Islamic Egypt], Cairo, 1991.
Citation of this web page:
Muhammad Abbas Muhammad Selim "Rectangular piece of wood" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;eg;Mus01;25;en