Monastir Museum of Islamic Art

Monastir, Tunisia

Housed in the Ribat of Monastir, which dates to the 2nd / 8th century, the museum consists of an open-air gallery displaying grave markers, and an exhibition space which was formerly the prayer room of the fort. This space houses richly decorated objects grouped by material and type; they constitute a collection that roughly corresponds to successive phases of the Muslim era in Tunisia.

Ceramic objects, in a wide variety of shapes, colours and decorative motifs, are characteristic of the Aghlabid, Fatimid, Hafsid and Ottoman periods. Originating from the sites of Raqqada and Sabra al-Masouriya, and dating back to the 3rd / 9th and 4th / 10th centuries, stucco elements are decorated with floral, geometric and inscription motifs. The marble elements are all funerary steles in the form of tablets, a column and a sword; they come from the Monastir cemetery and date back to the 3rd–5th / 9th–11th centuries.

Wooden friezes decorated with floral motifs and inscriptions come from the Great Mosque of Kairouan, and wooden corbels from the 4th–5th / 10th–11th centuries are also exhibited. Glass objects from the Fatimid and Mamluk periods are on display. Some were found at the Sabra al-Mansouriya site. The room contains a case with gold and silver coins dating back to the above-mentioned periods, and glass calibrators from the 9th century. The metallic objects include a remarkable astrolabe dating to the 12th / 18th century.

The arts of calligraphy and binding are represented by a set of parchment Qur’an folios from the library of the Great Mosque of Kairouan that date back to the 9th to 12th centuries. Among these is the Qur’an of al-Hadinah, governess to the Zirid ruler Badis (410 / 1020). Leather bindings decorated with floral and geometric motifs reveal the evolution of this art over five centuries (3rd–7th / 9th–13th). Coptic and Fatimid textiles with epigraphs that include names of workshops are characteristic of royal production, and enhance the museum’s permanent collection.

Monastir, Tunisie
T +216 73 461272
F +216 73 461272

Conservateur et responsable de la collection
Amor Bouzganda

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