Islamic Museum, al-Aqsa Mosque / al-Haram al-Sharif
Hegira 6th century / AD 12th century
Forged iron fastened with rods.
Height 230 cm, length 570, width: 30 cm
An iron grille or enclosure, of which the Museum displays 19 segments held together by the use of fine iron rods. The grille has been worked in the Gothic style, a style that predominated in the AH 6th / AD 12th century in Crusader art and architecture. This enclosure surrounded the rock which is located within the Dome of the Rock and from which the Prophet Muhammad ascended to the heavens on the night of the Mi'raj.The enclosure was intended to protect the rock from European Christian pilgrims during the Crusader period who would take pieces of the rock back to their homeland either in the hope that they would be blessed by it or, due to the sacred nature of the rock, to imbed within church buildings. The rock was thus in danger of losing its natural shape and required protection. The enclosure, already in a delicate state of repair during the restoration works which took place around 1960, was replaced by a wooden balustrade worked in the Islamic carved-wood style. The iron grille was then put into storage at the Islamic Museum, but many pieces were lost in the interim.
The grille is composed of segments that are identical in both width and height, except for the central four segments which are 257 cm high. Between each pair of rods are 21 repetitive decorative units, each one of which grows out of a small semi-circle of iron wire to become a flower. The flowers wrap around three times in a circular fashion extending from the centre, and face an identical blossom whose circles have been formed by wire coils spiralling in the opposite direction. The two flowers are connected together by a wire stay. This arrangement repeats itself to form the entire decorative format of the enclosure. It should be noted that a similar, small piece of a grille is still in the Dome of the Rock.
This is an iron enclosure or grille formed from pieces of approximately equal size and similar repetitive decoration, joined by small intricate iron bands. It is in Gothic style, which predominated in the art and architecture of the Crusaders in Palestine. This enclosure surrounded the rock placed within the Dome of the Rock for its protection.
Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem
This piece was dated by comparison in both technique and decoration with those used in other pieces that go back to the Crusader period, such as the pair of candlesticks housed in the Islamic Museum in Jerusalem.
The piece was transferred from the Dome of the Rock to the Islamic Museum in about 1960.
It is probable that this piece was produced in Jerusalem where, as is generally the case with architectural furniture, it was made in situ.
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 "Metal grille/enclosure" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2017. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;pa;Mus01;12;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 12
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)Pilgrimage | The Holy Land of Three Faiths Al-Franj: the Crusaders in the Levant | Culture in the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem
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