Name of Object:
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Royal Museum, National Museums of Scotland (NMS)
Date of Object:
Hegira late 8th–early 9th century / AD late 14th–early 15th century
Museum Inventory Number:
Material(s) / Technique(s):
Ebony and ivory with modern redwood beading.
Height 271.78, width 121.28 cm
Period / Dynasty:
A minbar panel with a modern redwood frame. Rectangular in shape, the panel contains a large, central field of original geometric elements executed in ebony and ivory, set within modern redwood beading. The design of the field involves two large vertically disposed star shapes at the centre, separated by a geometric quatrefoil design in between. This arrangement is flanked by two semi-stars on the sides and four quarter-stars in the corners. Any remaining spaces are filled with regularly disposed star motifs. All the major design elements in this overall composition, for example the stars and the quatrefoil, are in turn created from star shapes, angular drop shapes and a range of polygons, each one enhanced with a delicately carved arabesque design. At the top and bottom of the main field, two narrow, elongated ebony panels with ivory borders have been inserted. Each one carries the same Arabic inscription, rendered in thuluth script: ‘al-‘izz lillah mawlana al-sultan al-malik al-‘adil’, (‘Glory to God, our Lord, the Sultan, the King, the Just’).
View Short Description
Sophisticated woodwork with complex geometric designs executed in ebony and ivory and enhanced with delicately carved thuluth inscription panels was commissioned throughout the Mamluk period to enhance the furnishings of mosques, mausoleums and public buildings all over the Mamluk empire.
How date and origin were established:
This minbar panel has been dated to between the late 8th–early 9th / late 14th–early 15th centuries on the basis of stylistic similarities with other Mamluk minbar and door panels, executed in wood, ebony and ivory, for example those seen in the V&A, London, the Islamic Museum in Cairo and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
How Object was obtained:
Purchased from the Maurice Collection in 1884.
How provenance was established:
Items like this are thought to have been commissioned in Egypt by Mamluk patrons throughout the late 8th–early 9th / late 14th–early 15th centuries. This minbar panel is typical of carved wood minbars, screens, doors and shutters intended for mosques, mausoleums and other public buildings throughout the Mamluk Empire.
Atil, E., Renaissance of Islam: Art of the Mamluks, Washington D.C., 1981, p.202, cat. no. 99 (for a photograph of this piece); pp.208, cat. no. 104 (for related pieces); also pp.195–7 (for a general introductory essay on Mamluk woodwork).
Citation of this web page:
Ulrike Al-Khamis "Minbar panel" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;uk;Mus03;13;en
Prepared by: Ulrike Al-Khamis