National Museum of Damascus
Hegira 575 / AD 1179
Length 87 cm, width 60 cm
The various rulers who governed Damascus over the centuries were devoted to the care of the Umayyad Mosque, endowing it with religious, historical, political, architectural and artistic significance. The mosque has been the focal point of the city since its construction by the Umayyad Caliph al-Walid bin 'Abd al-Malik in AH 88 / AD 706.
During the Atabeg and Ayyubid periods, two fires struck the great Umayyad Mosque. The books, the woodwork, and much of the original artistic features within the mosque all perished. After the fire of AH 461 / AD 1069, Nur al-Din Mahmud bin al-Zangi took great care to restore the mosque to its former glory. Renovation after the fire of AH 569 / AD 1174 was undertaken by Saladin, founder of the Ayyubid dynasty.
This engraved marble panel commemorates the renovation work conducted by al-Malik al-Nasir, the title of Salah al-Din meaning 'the victorious king', in AH 575 / AD 1179, and was specifically concerned with restoration of the mosque's marble panelling.
The inscription in thuluth script is arranged on ten lines:
“In the name of God, the Merciful and Compassionate. The people who build the mosques/
of God are those who believe in God and the Day of Judgment,/
perform the prayers, give alms and/
do not fear any except God, as they/
are from the rightly guided. Renovation/
of this [sic, read these] two parts [of the mosque] took place in the days of the protector, al-Malik/
al-Nasir Abu al-Mudhaffar Yusuf bin Ayyub, Reviver of the State/
the Commander of the Faithful, may he live long/
and this in the months of the year/
five hundred and seventy-five after the hegira of the Prophet.”
The inscription on this marble panel acknowledges the renovations to the Great Umayyad Mosque during the Ayyubid reign of al-Malik al-Nasir Salah al-Din (Saladin), in AH 575 / AD 1179.
Al-Malik al-Nasir Salah al-Din Yusuf bin Ayyub (Saladin) (r. AH 569–89 / AD 1174–93)
The date 575 (1179) is inscribed on the panel.
Purchased in 1919.
The marble panel came from the Umayyad Mosque and was probably made in situ.
Abu al-Faraj al-Ush, M., A Concise Guide to the National Museum of Damascus, Damascus, 1969, p.238.
Cluzan, S. et al (eds), Syrie: Mémoire et Civilisation, Paris, 1994.
Delpont, E. (ed), L'Orient de Saladin: l'art des Ayyoubides, Paris, 2001, p.61; fig. 58.
Mona al-Moadin "Marble panel" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2018. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;sy;Mus01;29;en
Prepared by: Mona Al-Moadin
Translation by: Hilary Kalmbach (from the Arabic)
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: SY 40
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)The Atabegs and Ayyubids | Religious Life
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