Name of Object:

Fresco panel: ‘Group of Musicians’


Amman, Jordan

Holding Museum:

In situ at Qusayr ‘Amra

About In situ at Qusayr ‘Amra, Amman

Original Owner:

Possibly al-Walid II (AH 125–6 / AD 743–4)

Date of Object:

Hegira first third of the 2nd century / AD second half of the 8th century

Material(s) / Technique(s):




Period / Dynasty:



Qusayr ‘Amra, Jordan.


Music making and dancing is a recurring theme in the frescoes at Qusayr ‘Amra. In the north-east spandrel of the central aisle, near the entrance to the audience hall, is a depiction of a female dancer and three musicians: a tambourine player, a flutist, and a third-badly damaged player, holding a cymbal. The flutist wears a tight-necked long garment with an all-over pattern of double circles, diamonds and florets. The garment is held at the waist by a girdle knotted at the side with two strands. The flutist holds the flute to his mouth with two hands.

View Short Description

This fresco is located near the entrance to the audience hall at Qusayr ‘Amra; it depicts a female dancer and three musicians: a tambourine player, a flutist, and a player holding a cymbal. Music and dancing is a recurrent theme at Qusayr ‘Amra.

How date and origin were established:

Qusayr 'Amra and its frescoes date to the Umayyad period, an accurate dating achieved primarily through analysis of some of the paintings in situ, the most important being the fresco panel depicting six rulers; 'The Family of Kings'. Their names, written above their heads in Arabic and Greek, identify them as: 'Caesar', the Byzantine emperor; 'Kisra', the Sasanian emperor; the king of Abbyssinia (Ethiopia); and 'Roderick', the Visigothic king of Spain. Historical inference has established the identities of the other two as the emperor of China and the ruling prince 'khaqan' of the Turks. Since Roderick ruled for only one year before he was killed in AH 92 / AD 711, this date provides a terminus post quem for construction of the monument.

How Object was obtained:

The fresco is in situ at Qusayr ‘Amra.

How provenance was established:

The panel is located near the entrance to the audience hall at Qusayr ‘Amra.

Selected bibliography:

Almagro, M., et al, Qusayr 'Amra: Residencia y baños omeyas en el desierto de Jordania, Madrid, 1975, plates VI a-b.
Fowden, G., Qusayr ‘Amra: Art and the Umayyad Elite in Late Antique Syria, Los Angeles, 2004, pp.66-67.

Citation of this web page:

Ghazi Bisheh "Fresco panel: ‘Group of Musicians’" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2024.;isl;jo;mus01_h;46;en

Prepared by: Ghazi BishehGhazi Bisheh

Ghazi Bisheh is an archaeologist and former Director General of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan. He studied archaeology at the University of Jordan, and history of Islamic art and architecture at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, from where he holds his Ph.D. He was affiliated to the Department of Antiquities of Jordan for most of the period between 1980 and 1999, and was its Director General twice (1988–91 and 1995–9). He was also an associate professor of archaeology at Yarmouk University during the early 1990s. He is the author of numerous publications, including The Umayyads: The Rise of Islamic Art (Brussels: Museum With No Frontiers, 2000), of which he is a co-author. He has carried out excavation work both inside and outside Jordan in sites such as Qasr al-Hallabat, Madaba, Carthage and Bahrain. He is a member of the German Archaeological Institute and is the Deputy Director of the International Council of Museums for the Arab countries.

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: JO 87


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