Name of Object:

Fragments of bronze door facing

Location:

Fez, Morocco

Holding Museum:

Batha Museum

Date of Object:

Hegira 531 / AD 1136

Artist(s) / Craftsperson(s):

‘Ali Abd al-Wahid.

Museum Inventory Number:

57.17.1

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Cast bronze, engraved and carved.

Dimensions:

Height 75 cm, length 40 cm

Period / Dynasty

Almoravid

Provenance:

Qarawiyyin Mosque, Fez.

Description:

These fragments of the bronze facing of al-Ganaiz door, arranged on a wooden board after their restoration, consist of two sections: an epigraphic frieze and a decorative panel.
The epigraphic strip located on the upper part consists of a cartouche framed on its sides by mixtilinear knotwork that joins a second line to make a braid that delimits the side edges. The text of the inscription is a eulogy ('everlasting joy and happiness') often found in monumental decoration. It is engraved in angular twisted kufic characters with high, bevelled upstrokes on a dense plant background consisting of different sorts of palms attached to spindly undulating foliage: single asymmetrical palms, palms growing from a calyx with two disc-shaped lobes stretching into stems at the ends, and symmetrical double palms with divergent or multiple lobes, arched at the base.
The decorative panel consists of different nailed parts connected by copper strips to make a double overlapping geometrical composition (cruciform figures and polygons developed on the basis of two lobed squares). The centres of the squares are decorated with cast plant motifs formed by smooth palms and foliage, and surrounded by a circular braid wrapped with an epigraphic band in cursive characters cast in relief, a eulogy on the theme of happiness and success. The centres of the polygons are stamped with floral-decoration cartouches similar to the plant background of the upper kufic inscription.
The bronze facings from which these fragments came, whose date of manufacture and craftsmen are known, are the first examples of Muslim copperware in the West.

View Short Description

These bronze fragments came from the facings of one of the mosque doors. Sculpted with geometric, floral and epigraphic motifs, they are the earliest examples of Muslim bronze work in the West.

Original Owner:

Habus (endowment)

How date and origin were established:

Dated using the inscription found on another fragment of the bronze facing of the door of the Qarawiyyin mosque, corroborated by the author of Zahrat al-As (see Bibliography), who relates that the facing was made at the time when the mosque was expanded under the Almoravids, and specifically during the reign of 'Ali ibn Yusuf (AH 531 / AD 1136).

How Object was obtained:

Parts saved from smelting in 1957 and salvaged by the Museum.

How provenance was established:

These fragments are similar to those still in place in 1957.

Selected bibliography:

Al-Jaznai (Abu al-Hasan Ali), Zahrat al-As (Myrtle Flower), Arabic text translated and annotated by A. Bel, Algiers, 1923.
Cambazard-Amahan, C., Le décor sur bois dans l'architecture de Fès, Paris, 1989.
Terrasse, H., La mosquée al-Qaraouiyine, Paris, 1968.
Andalusian Morocco: A Discovery in Living Art, p.104.

Citation of this web page:

Naima El Khatib-Boujibar "Fragments of bronze door facing" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2017. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;ma;Mus01_C;14;en

Prepared by: Naima El Khatib-BoujibarNaima El Khatib-Boujibar

Archéologue et historienne de l'art, titulaire d'une licence en lettres (française), N. Elkhatib-Boujibar a également étudié l'archéologie et l'histoire de l'art à l'Institut d'art et d'archéologie de Paris, l'art islamique et la muséologie à l'École du Louvre (Paris), et suivi des cours à l'Institut d'ethnographie de l'Université de Neuchâtel (Suisse). Elle a occupé plusieurs postes de responsabilité, parmi lesquels directrice des Musées et de l'Archéologie, inspectrice générale des Musées et de l'Archéologie, déléguée régionale du ministère de la Culture.
Elle a dirigé un chantier de fouille durant 20 ans et enseigné à l'Institut national marocain des sciences de l'archéologie et du patrimoine (INSAP). Elle a organisé différentes expositions sur le patrimoine marocain, au Maroc comme à l'étranger, et animé des cycles de conférence, dont celui sur l'art islamique à la “Villa des Arts” à Casablanca.
N. El Khatib-Boujibar a publié différents articles sur le patrimoine archéologique, artistique et architectural marocain, mais aussi sur d'autres sites islamiques et sur les arts mobiliers. Elle a également participé à la rédaction du catalogue Musée Sans Frontières Le Maroc andalou, à la rencontre d'un art de vivre.

Copyedited by: Margot Cortez
Translation by: Laurence Nunny
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen

MWNF Working Number: MO 16

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Islamic Dynasties / Period

Almoravids


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