Name of Object:

Wooden panel


Cairo, Egypt

Holding Museum:

Museum of Islamic Art

About Museum of Islamic Art, Cairo

Date of Object:

Hegira 3rd century / AD 9th century

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Wood decorated with bevelled carving.


Length 80 cm, width 20.5 cm

Period / Dynasty:





The Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo holds two identical wooden panels, one of which is this piece, decorated with two stylised doves that confront each other and which are intertwined with vegetal decorative motifs. Some of the detail on the doves is coloured in red, blue and white. The neck of each dove is decorated with a band containing a row of fine grains set adjacent to each other. Furthermore, the panel contains vegetal motifs in the form of lotus blossoms and winged foliage, which appears to have strong ties with similar pieces in plaster and wood made in the City of Samarra in Iraq.
The Tulunid period in Egypt (AH 254–92 / AD 868–905) was distinguished by the dominant influences of Samarra seen in many of the applied arts. Wood craftsmanship is considered to be one of the most important areas to be influenced by the styles and decoration of the Samarra style 'C' (known as the third Samarra style) in stucco, to the extent that some of the Egyptian Tulunid examples executed in wood appear almost completely identical to some of the wooden objects uncovered in the city of Samarra, many of which date to the AH 3rd / AD 9th century, and are distinctive for their bevelled stylistic carving.

View Short Description

This wooden panel is engraved in the decorative style brought to Egypt by artisans from Iraq who followed in the footsteps of Ahmad Ibn Tulun, founder of the Tulunid state. It is called the third Samarra style.

How date and origin were established:

This object was dated based on the spread of this particular decorative style in Samarra during the 3rd / 9th century. It was a period of Tulunid rule in Egypt, and a time of migration for many artisans who, following in the footsteps of Ahmed ibn Tulun, the founder of the Tulinid state, left Samarra to settle in Egypt. It was this period that witnessed the production of precious applied-art objects, produced according to Samarran decorative styles.

How Object was obtained:

The panel was bought by the Museum in 1938 from a dealer of antiquities, Maurice Nahman.

How provenance was established:

Egypt has been narrowed down as the place of production for this panel, an assumption based on the identical style of carving used on this piece compared to those used on other wood and plaster objects during this period in Egypt.

Selected bibliography:

Bloom, J., and Blair, S., Islamic Arts, London, 1997.
Brend, B., Islamic Art, London, 1991.
Ettinghausen, R., and Grabar, O., The Art and Architecture of Islam 650–1250, New Haven and London, 1987.
Shafa'i, F., “Mumayyizat al-Akhshab al-Muzakhrafa fi al-Tiraz al-Abbasi wa al-Fatimi [Distinguishing Features of Decorated Wood in the Fatimid and Abbasid Styles]”,in Majalat Kulliyat al-Adab [Journal of the Faculty of Arts], Vol. 16, No.1, 1954.
Wilson, E., Islamic Designs, London, 1988.
Yasin, Abd al-Nassir, Al-Funun al-Zukhrufiya al-Islamiyya fi Masr mundhu al-Fath al-Islami hatta al-'Asr al-Fatimi [The Islamic Decorative Arts in Egypt From the Time of the Islamic Conquest to the Fatimid Period], Volume 1, Alexandria, 2002.

Citation of this web page:

Salah Sayour "Wooden panel" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2022.;ISL;eg;Mus01;21;en

Prepared by: Salah SayourSalah Sayour

Salah Ahmad Sayour holds a BA in Islamic Antiquities, Faculty of Arts, Cairo University (1973) and is currently studying for an MA in the same field. In 1979 he had a four-month scholarship at Austrian museums to study museology. Preparing exhibitions for the Museum of Islamic Art's collections in the Arab World Institute, Paris and curating exhibitions held in host museums in the USA and Paris augmented his experience leading to his appointment as head of several sections at the Museum. He has written several articles on Islamic painting and arts for Prism Magazine published by the Ministry in different languages and has participated in preparing scientific texts for the catalogues for the Museum's exhibitions at home and abroad.

Copyedited by: Majd Musa
Translation by: Amal Sachedina (from the Arabic).
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: ET 37


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