Name of Object:

Ceiling fragment


Fez, Morocco

Holding Museum:

Batha Museum

Date of Object:

Hegira 747 / AD 1346–7

Museum Inventory Number:

45. 103

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Joined, carved and painted cedarwood.


Length 285 cm, width 125.5 cm, depth 7.7 cm

Period / Dynasty:



Al-Misbahiya Madrasa, Fez.


This trapezoidal side fragment of a ceiling consists of a series of small wooden planks and strips arranged in a pre-set geometric pattern to make a three-dimensional mosaic and cover the joists and beams of the ceiling. Its repetitive geometric composition follows a theme based on an eight-pointed star developing into rectilinear knotwork that forms various different shapes: hexagons, seven-pointed stars and cruciform nodes. The interstices formed by the knotwork are either filled by pieces with chamfered edges that protrude slightly above the knotwork lines, or left empty.
The lines of the knotwork have a central groove and are painted with a red line next to a white braid on the inside and a green transparent fillet on the outside. The bottoms of the hollow shapes are covered with a coat of red paint on top of a white base coat. The surfaces of the pieces in relief that are not covered with a base coat are surrounded by chamfers consisting of a red background and a white coat marked with small alternating blue and red zigzags.
The very balanced compositions, alternating filled and empty spaces, and the decoration based on contrasting colours make this fragment of a ceiling from al-Misbahiya Madrasa in Fez particularly interesting. Known as trough or jefna in Morocco and artesonado in Spain, this type of ceiling was already used in Almohad times. It was very popular in Marinid times for covering prayer rooms.

View Short Description

The well-balanced composition of wooden planks and battens arranged in a geometric design with alternating filled and empty spaces, as well as areas of decoration based on colour contrasts, make this fragment of ceiling, known as jefna, particularly interesting.

How date and origin were established:

Same date as the madrasa it came from.

How Object was obtained:

Salvaged following the restoration of the madrasa.

How provenance was established:

Fragment salvaged from a ceiling of the monument.

Selected bibliography:

Cambazard-Amahan, C., 6000 d'art au Maroc, catalogue, Paris, 1990.
Gallotti, J., Le jardin et la maison arabes au Maroc, Vol. I, Paris, 1926.
Terrasse, Ch., Médersas du Maroc, Paris, 1927.
Andalusian Morocco: A Discovery in Living Art, pp.104–6.

Citation of this web page:

Naima El Khatib-Boujibar "Ceiling fragment" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2024.;ISL;ma;Mus01_C;24;en

Prepared by: Naima El Khatib-BoujibarNaima El Khatib-Boujibar

Archéologue et historienne de l'art, titulaire d'une licence en lettres (française), N. Elkhatib-Boujibar a également étudié l'archéologie et l'histoire de l'art à l'Institut d'art et d'archéologie de Paris, l'art islamique et la muséologie à l'École du Louvre (Paris), et suivi des cours à l'Institut d'ethnographie de l'Université de Neuchâtel (Suisse). Elle a occupé plusieurs postes de responsabilité, parmi lesquels directrice des Musées et de l'Archéologie, inspectrice générale des Musées et de l'Archéologie, déléguée régionale du ministère de la Culture.
Elle a dirigé un chantier de fouille durant 20 ans et enseigné à l'Institut national marocain des sciences de l'archéologie et du patrimoine (INSAP). Elle a organisé différentes expositions sur le patrimoine marocain, au Maroc comme à l'étranger, et animé des cycles de conférence, dont celui sur l'art islamique à la “Villa des Arts” à Casablanca.
N. El Khatib-Boujibar a publié différents articles sur le patrimoine archéologique, artistique et architectural marocain, mais aussi sur d'autres sites islamiques et sur les arts mobiliers. Elle a également participé à la rédaction du catalogue Musée Sans Frontières Le Maroc andalou, à la rencontre d'un art de vivre.

Copyedited by: Margot Cortez
Translation by: Laurence Nunny
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen

MWNF Working Number: MO 29


Related monuments

 Artistic Introduction

 Timeline for this item

Islamic Dynasties / Period

Marinids and Wattasids

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