Name of Object:

Door wings and a knocker


Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Turkey

Holding Museum:

Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts

About Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, Sultanahmet

Original Owner:

Mahmud Sanjar Shah (AH 605–639 / AD 1208-1241), atabeg of Cizre, from the Artuqid dynasty

Date of Object:

Beginning hegira 7th century / AD 13th century

Museum Inventory Number:

المطرقة: 3749 ؛ مصراعا الباب: 4282

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Door wings: wood (walnut and poplar), metal (bronze and brass), openwork; knocker: cast and engraved bronze.


Door wings: each, height 300 cm, width 112 cm (224 cm in total); knocker: height 27.5 cm; width 24 cm, depth 3 cm

Period / Dynasty:

Anatolian Seljuq atabeg in Cizre


Southeastern Anatolia, probably Cizre, Turkey.


Both of the wooden wings belonging to the door of the Ulu Cami (Great Mosque) in Cizre were clad in sheets of bronze and then decorated with brass strips and plates attached with iron nails. The border band has a decoration of quatrefoils fitted using round-headed nails. Each wing has three medallions, each with a 12-pointed star in the centre. The areas in between are filled with half-medallions that make up two half- and two full-medallions along the join when the wings are shut. The spaces in between the medallions and the geometric motifs are filled with metal plates decorated with arabesque-palmette motifs in openwork. Traces of pigment suggest that the background of these motifs was originally painted in red and blue to make them stand out more boldly. The half- and quarter-medallions along the outer edges of the door wings imply that the composition extends to infinity. Near the centre of the door wings are two loops for mounting the knockers, one of which is now on display in Copenhagen. The cast bronze knocker still on the door is formed of two symmetrical dragons that are engraved and which join at the centre with a lion's head. The dragons, have pointed ears, almond eyes and wings; their scaly bodies loop around in a spiral to form knots, and their tails join and end in eagle's heads.

On the upper portion of the door wings is an inscription frieze with cast bronze letters. As some letters are missing, the inscription cannot be read in full. The legible part reads: 'May Allah give power to Abul Kasım Mahmud Sanjar Shah, our lord'. The person mentioned is the atabeg of Cizre, Mahmud Sanjar Shah, who ruled from AH 605–39 / AD 1208–41.

View Short Description

Magnificent portals of monumental mosques symbolise the gates of Paradise. The naming of the sultan, geometric decoration symbolising infinity on the door-wings and the dragon and lion motifs on the doorknockers are an expression not only of the divine power of God but also of the power of the sultan.

How date and origin were established:

The patron was the atabeg of Cizre, Mahmud Sanjar Shah, who ruled from 605–639 / 1208–41. It is likely that the knockers were produced together with the wings for the door of the Ulu Cami (Great Mosque) in Cizre, itself built in 550 / 1155.

How Object was obtained:

The door wings and knocker were transferred to the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts from the Mardin Museum in 1976.

How provenance was established:

The door wings and knockers were specially prepared for the door of the Ulu Cami (Great Mosque) in Cizre. Thus, it is highly likely that they were produced in Cizre or in southeastern Anatolia.

Selected bibliography:

ölçer, N. et al, Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art, Istanbul, 2002, pp.95–7.

Roxburgh, D. J. (ed), Turks: A Journey of a Thousand Years, 600–1600, London, 2005, pp.399–400.

Citation of this web page:

Alev Özay "Door wings and a knocker" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2024.;ISL;tr;Mus01;4;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 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: TR 06


 Artistic Introduction

 Timeline for this item

Islamic Dynasties / Period

Seljuqs (Anatolian)

On display in


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