Islamic Museum, al-Aqsa Mosque / al-Haram al-Sharif
Hegira 6th century / AD 12th century
Hewn and carved marble.
Height 84 cm, length 348 cm, depth 12 cm
A marble balustrade consisting of nine adjoining pointed arches identical in form and dimensions, and supported by coupled columns of which there are close to 20. The details on the columns as well as on the capitals differ from each other but each pair of columns and their corresponding capitals are identical. The spandrel, the area between the arches, is ornamented with a series of carved marble circles. The column capitals assume one of two forms: the first resembles a finely detailed and knotted Corinthian capital and the second inclines more toward simplicity, approximating a whirling pomegranate blossom. The arches are decorated with carved ornamentation in the form of a knight's blazon. The decorative details on the pillars are varied but are distinguished generally by a chain of number “7s” wrapped around the body of the column in a vertical or horizontal format. The arches rest on marble panels, each supported by a pair of capitals on top of the coupled columns.
This balustrade was originally in the Aqsa Mosque, where it is likely that its function was decorative. It was then transferred to the Islamic Museum following the renovation of the mosque. It is possible that this piece is tied to, with regard to the material, craftsmanship and technique of carving, a Crusader frieze (also at the Museum), which was transferred from the Dome of the Rock. Perhaps this piece was crafted in the same workshop as an atelier renowned for its high-quality carved marble was active in the Haram al-Sharif during the same period.
This is a marble balustrade composed of nine adjoining tapered arches, identical in form and dimensions. They are supported by pairs of close to 20 pillars. The balustrade is a product of the Crusader period (Romanesque style). It is relatively simple in appearance and detail. It was placed in al-Aqsa Mosque for decoration.
Al-Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem
This piece was dated by comparison of both its technique and artistic style with pieces produced in the same period in Palestine, which were acquired by the Islamic Museum.
The piece was transferred from al-Aqsa Mosque in 1938.
The registers of the Islamic Museum indicate that the piece was transferred from al-Aqsa Mosque to the Islamic Museum in 1938. The balustrade appears in photographs published by R. W. Hamilton in 1949 showing the interior of the mosque before the balustrade was moved to the Museum. It is plausible that it was made in Jerusalem since large architectural pieces were usually made on site and a workshop was active in the Haram al-Sharif during the same period.
Hunt, L. A., “Crusader Sculpture and the so-called Templar Workshop: A Reassessment of Two Carved Panels from the Dome of the Rock in Al-Haram al-Sharif Museum in Jerusalem”, in Palestine Exploration Quarterly, No. 132, 2000.
Jacoby, Z., “The Workshop of the Temple Area in Jerusalem in the Twelfth Century: Its Origin, Evolution, and Impact”, Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte,No. 45, 1982.
Jacoby, Z., “The Provencial Impact on Crusader Sculpture in Jerusalem: More Evidence on the Temple Area Atelier”, in Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte, No. 48, 1985.
Nazmi Al-Ju'beh "Marble balustrade" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2018. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;pa;Mus01;11;en
Prepared by: Nazmi Al-Ju'behNazmi Al-Ju'beh
Nazmi Al-Ju'beh is an archaeologist and historian and Co-Director of RIWAQ, Centre for Architectural Conservation in Ramallah, Palestine. He studied at Birzeit University in Palestine and at Tübingen University in Germany. He taught at Birzeit University and at al-Quds University. He was Director of the Islamic Museum, al-Haram al-Sharif, Jerusalem, and directed various cultural heritage projects in Palestine, including surveys of archaeological and architectural sites. He was a major contributor to Pilgrimage, Sciences and Sufism: Islamic Art in the West Bank and Gaza (Vienna: MWNF, 2004) and is the author of numerous publications on the history, archaeology and cultural heritage of Palestine.
Copyedited by: Majd Musa
Translation by: Amal Sachedina (from the Arabic).
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: PA 11
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)Al-Franj: the Crusaders in the Levant | Culture in the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem
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