Name of Object:
Date of Object:
Hegira 532 / AD 1137 (commenced)
Artist(s) / Craftsperson(s):
Workshop in Córdoba and the craftsman Aziz.
Museum Inventory Number:
Material(s) / Technique(s):
Different woods (cedar, acacia, box, jujube), natural bone painted green, ivory (sculpted, carved, openwork, assembled, inlaid and gilded).
Height 386 cm, length 346 cm, width 87 cm
Period / Dynasty:
This minbar is a mobile pulpit with eight steps supported by vertical walls ending with lateral arcatures linked by a ramp. Both the internal and external sides are decorated. The entire Andalusian decorative repertoire – vegetal, floral, geometric and epigraphic – has been employed. The sides and the back are framed with kufic inscriptions (Qur'anic text, pious formulas and three foundation texts). The characters are embossed, sculpted or inlaid. Marquetry and bone and ivory inlay have been used on the sides for chequered geometrical knotwork and the floral designs, in the shape of trees of life, crowned by arcatures that decorate the back and the risers. The variously shaped small polygonal wooden panels that fill the interstices of the geometrical knotwork are sculpted and carved with floral and vegetal motifs with an outstanding level of delicacy and precision that is reminiscent of and even surpasses the work on Umayyad ivory boxes. In addition to the sculptures and carving, the palette of colours and shades of the valuable woods make this liturgical object a masterpiece of the genre. One of the inscriptions says that 'Ali ibn Yusuf commissioned it from a workshop in Córdoba in AH 532 / AD 1137 for the Great Mosque of Marrakesh. The Almohad 'Abd al-Mu'min spared the minbar when he razed 'Ali's mosque in AH 542 / AD 1147. He put it in his mosque, the original Kutubiya and then transferred it to his second, current Kutubiya, where it was used until the 1950s.
View Short Description
Made in Córdoba for the Great Mosque of 'Ali ibn Yusuf in Marrakesh, it was spared by the Abbasid 'Abd al-Mu'min and placed in his mosque, the Kutubiya. The meticulous, precise and subtle crafting of this item make it the only minbar to have survived to our times, a masterpiece of its type.
The Almoravid monarch ‘Ali ibn Yusuf commissioned it for his Great Mosque of Marrakesh
How date and origin were established:
The inscription engraved on the last upright on the left side reads: 'This minbar was made in Córdoba, God protect it, for the Great Mosque of the city of Marrakesh, God protect it, and its construction began with God's help on the first day of the month of Muharram in the year 532 (AD 1137), may God glorify the reward of its commissioner'. The inscription on the back arcature reads: 'May God help the prince [of the faithful, 'Ali ibn Yusuf] ibn Tashufin and his heir'.
How Object was obtained:
Removed from the Kutubiya Mosque for preservation in 1962 and restored. Since 2005 kept in a room in the Badi Palace.
How provenance was established:
The place where it was made, (Córdoba) and its original location ('Ali ibn Yusuf's mosque) are mentioned in the inscription engraved on the back arcature: 'This minbar was made in the city of Córdoba, God protect it, for this great venerated mosque, may God help it to endure with the word of Islam. It was finished …' The name 'Aziz' engraved on the structure, discovered during restoration, could be that of a craftsman or foreman.
Basset, H. et Terrasse, H., “Sanctuaires et forteresses almohades. V. La chaire de la Kotobîya”, Hespéris 6, Rabat, 1926, pp.168–207.
Citation of this web page:
Naima El Khatib-Boujibar "Minbar" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2022. https://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;ma;Mus01_F;6;en
Prepared by: Naima El Khatib-Boujibar