Name of Object:



London, England, United Kingdom

Holding Museum:

Victoria and Albert Museum

 About Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Date of Object:

About hegira 676 / AD 1277–8

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Carved marble.


Height 50 cm, diameter 97 cm

Period / Dynasty:



Hama, Syria.


A large marble fountain-basin. The basin is basically a large hemisphere supported on a short foot and topped with a 12-sided rim, one side of which is blank and another of which has a section cut out to support the channel which brought water. Eleven of the sides carry an inscription giving the name and titles of the Ayyubid governor of Hama, al-Malik al-Mansur Muhammad ibn al-Muzaffar Mahmud ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Umar ibn Shahanshah ibn ‘Ayyub (also known by his shorter title of Mansur II Muhammad), who ruled from AH 641–83 / AD 1244–84. The exterior of the basin is carved with a bold design of two interlacing arabesque designs, each repeated six times in alternation and set off against a background of smaller floral decoration. Such a fine basin would probably have been placed in a prominent public mosque to serve the needs of congregants and to proclaim the glory of the ruler.

View Short Description

A large marble basin for ablutions, carved on the exterior with prominent interlacing arabesque designs. The 12-sided rim is inscribed with the name and titles of the patron, the governor of Hama. Thus the basin served both the ritual needs of the community and the governor’s public image.

How date and origin were established:

The inscription gives the date 676 / 1277–8.

How Object was obtained:

Purchased by the Museum in 1903.

How provenance was established:

The basin is inscribed with the name and titles of the Ayyubid governor in whose honour this object was made (see description above).

Selected bibliography:

Ayers, J., Oriental Art in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1983, p.111.

Citation of this web page:

Barry Wood "Basin" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2021.;ISL;uk;Mus02;9;en

Prepared by: Barry Wood
Copyedited by: Mandi Gomez

MWNF Working Number: UK2 09