Name of Object:
Fragment of lintel (izar)
Date of Object:
Hegira second half of the 6th century / AD second half of the 12th century
Museum Inventory Number:
Material(s) / Technique(s):
Height 16 cm, length 106.5 cm, depth 7.5 cm
Period / Dynasty:
This lintel, which has been slightly damaged on the lower right-hand side, is sculpted with an inscription interrupted by a section in an architectural style filled with vegetal motifs.
The inscription reproduces a Qur'anic text, the beginning of verse 47 of Sura 11 'the Messenger', which suggests that this lintel was originally used in a religious building. The upstrokes of the angular kufic characters end in concave bevels. Only the upstrokes of nun and ha finish with a simple movement, mimicking the elegant appearance of a swan's neck. The low letters, such as dal and waw, are crowned with decorative motifs formed of joined concave and bevelled upstrokes. All of the letters sculpted in the round are surrounded by a raised line that amplifies their edges.
The vegetal background behind the script seems to play a secondary role to the letters themselves. The movement of the stem, the number of floral motifs and their silhouettes are all made to fit the height, spacing and shape of the up strokes. This large and sober decoration, sculpted in champlevé, uses the thick stem and single palm in all of their forms: curved at the base into a ring, with triangular calyxes, and fanned. Smooth symmetrical palms with lower lobes with pointed edges, similar to fleurons, are also used. The outer edges of all of the lobes of these different types of flowers are decorated with small festoons that appear to be a simplification of the digits of acanthus leaves.
The sobriety and elegance of the kufic characters and the rigour and simplification of the vegetal forms used in the decoration of this lintel are characteristic of Almohad aesthetics, to which this piece appears to be linked.
View Short Description
The sobriety and elegance of the kufic characters used in the Qur'anic inscription, and the rigour and stylisation of the plant forms that decorate this lintel, originally from a religious building, are characteristic of Almohad aesthetics.
How date and origin were established:
The elegance of the calligraphy characters and the understated plant decoration belong to an artistic style identifiable on dated Almohad monuments.
How Object was obtained:
How provenance was established:
Salvaged in Fez.
Cambazard-Amahan, C., Le décor sur bois dans l'architecture de Fès, Paris, 1989.
Marçais, G., L'architecture musulmane d'Occident, Paris, 1959.
Terrasse, H., L'art hispano-mauresque des origines au XIIIe siècle, Paris, 1932
Citation of this web page:
Naima El Khatib-Boujibar "Fragment of lintel (izar)" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;ma;Mus01_C;9;en
Prepared by: Naima El Khatib-Boujibar
Copyedited by: Margot Cortez
Translation by: Laurence Nunny
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen
MWNF Working Number: MO 11