Name of Object:

Sitting lion

Location:

Algiers, Algeria

Holding Museum:

National Museum of Antiquities and Islamic Arts

About National Museum of Antiquities and Islamic Arts, Algiers

Date of Object:

Hegira 406–547 / AD 1015–1152

Museum Inventory Number:

II.S.27

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Carved and sculpted grey marble.

Dimensions:

Length 40.5 cm, width 24 cm, diameter 12 cm

Period / Dynasty

Hammadid

Provenance:

Qal’at Bani Hammad, Algeria.

Description:

Made of grey marble in a parallelepiped form that is sculpted, this object features a lion sitting on its hind legs rendered flat against the surface of a lower part of a segment of arch. The head of the animal is far larger than its body. Its eyes are globular and wide open, and its fully opened mouth reveals tightly clenched teeth, giving the face a ferocious air.
The left flank of the animal is more densely decorated than the right. Fur in the form of curls hang from the left flank, to which the tail is also attached. The front legs are missing. The right flank lacks any ornamentation, which suggests that it was this side that was encased in the masonry while the left side was on show.
The rounded shape of this piece leads to the conjecture that it formed part of a segment of a poly-lobed arch that belonged to an entrance door of a Hammadid palace.

View Short Description

This marble piece is a sculpture of a lion with a disproportionately large head and a wide open mouth that was probably part of a doorway arch. Its tail is flattened against its left-hand side and the carved curls represent its fur.

How date and origin were established:

Archaeological repository (De Beylié excavations, 1908).

How Object was obtained:

Gift from L.Leschi.

How provenance was established:

The object was found on the site of the Qal'at Bani Hammad.

Selected bibliography:

Golvin, L., Recherches archéologiques à la Qal'a des Banû Hammâd, Paris, 1965.
Marçais, G., Le musée Stéphane Gsell, musée des antiquités et d'art musulman d'Alger, Algiers, 1950.
Marçais, G., “Sur un lion de marbre trouvé à la Kal'a des Beni Hammad”, Revue africaine, Algiers, 1939, pp.182–91.

Citation of this web page:

Ali Benbella "Sitting lion" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2017. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;dz;Mus01;8;en

Prepared by: Ali BenbellaAli Benbella

Maître-assistant à l'Institut d'archéologie de l'université d'Alger, titulaire d'un magister en archéologie islamique, conservateur du patrimoine archéologique et historique, ancien chef du service Conservation et Valorisation (section islamique) au Musée national des antiquités, Ali Benbella a participé à plusieurs fouilles sur les sites médiévaux algériens de Mansourah (Tlemcen) et Achir (Médéa). Il a contribué à la réalisation de plusieurs expositions et catalogues établis par le Musée national des antiquités, entre autres Arts Céramiques et L'art islamique d'après une collection privée, et participé à la deuxième conférence sur les “Musées de la Méditerranée, nouveaux concepts et nouvelles perspectives” (Stockholm, 09-12 mai 2003).
Parmi ses publications, il faut citer sa contribution aux Cahiers d'Achir (rapport de fouilles, 1994), ainsi que plusieurs articles en arabe dans la revue Annales du Musée national des antiquités, le dernier sous le titre : “Pavillon des arts islamiques du Musée national des antiquités”. Il est l'auteur, dans le Medelhavsmuseet Bulletin (Stockholm, 2004), d'un article en anglais intitulé : “The National Museum of Antiquities in Algiers”.

Copyedited by: Margot Cortez
Translation by: Maria Vlotides
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen

MWNF Working Number: AL 11

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