Raqqada, Kairouan, Tunisia
Museum of Islamic Art
Hegira, end of 3rd–beginning of 5th century / AH 9th–11th century
Carved and decorated cedarwood.
Length 62 cm, width 16 cm, thickness 10 cm
The sides of this corbel are painted with a simplified floral decoration of blue and yellow foliate scrolls ending in tri-lobed or four-lobed palm-leaf motifs on a bright red background. The edges of the corbel are decorated with yellow dots within blue circles. These floral motifs are perfectly typical of the Ifriqiyan decorative repertoire of the AH 3rd and 4th century (AD 9th and 10th century). The front projection of the corbel is carved in the shape of a grasshopper's head with curved grooves. Although the Orient has not left to us any other comparable wooden corbels, Ifriqiyan architecture does feature similar stone models as early as the AH 3rd century (AD 9th century), for example at the Mosque of the Three Doors. This corbel was part of the wooden roof of the prayer hall of the Great Mosque of Kairouan and served to support one of the ceiling beams. It is probably derived from an ancient design. However, one is struck by the consummate skill of the woodcarver's simple, rough-hewn, linear treatment of the surfaces, so appropriate for the decoration of a protruding architectural element.View Short Description
This corbel was part of the wooden ceiling of the prayer room of the Great Mosque of Kairouan, acting as a joist for the ceiling beams. Its floral motifs belonged to the Ifriqiyan decorative repertoire from the AH 3rd–5th / AD 9th–11th centuries.
The motifs decorating this corbel are found on some carved panels of the minbar and on the painted wooden semi-dome of the mihrab of the Great Mosque of Kairouan, which dates to the middle of the 3rd / 9th century. These motifs are also found in the Umayyad art in Syria. All these allow us to date this corbel to the end of the 3rd / 9th century, certainly to the renovation work ordered and commissioned by the Aghlabid prince Ibrahim II (261-289 / 875-902).
After the restoration of the Great Mosque of Kairouan, between 1962 and 1972, some beams, boards and joists were taken out and completely refurbished. This piece was placed along with thousands of other fragments in the storerooms of the National Institute of the Patrimony of Kairouan. It was selected for display when the Museum of Islamic Art at Raqqada was extended.
The motifs decorating this corbel are found on some carved panels of the minbar and on the painted wooden semi-dome of the mihrab of the Great Mosque of Kairouan.
De Carthage a Kairouan (exhibition catalogue), Paris, 1982, p.207.
30 ans au service du patrimoine (exhibition catalogue), 1986, p.262.
Tunisie, du Christianisme a l'Islam (exhibition catalogue), Lattes, 2001, p.191.
Ifriqiya: Thirteen Centuries of Art and Architecture in Tunisia, pp.175–6.
Mourad Rammah "Corbel" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2018. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;tn;Mus01;11;en
Prepared by: Mourad RammahMourad Rammah
Né en 1953 à Kairouan, docteur en archéologie islamique, Mourad Rammah est le conservateur de la médina de Kairouan. Lauréat du prix Agha Khan d'architecture, il publie divers articles sur l'histoire de l'archéologie médiévale islamique en Tunisie et participe à différentes expositions sur l'architecture islamique. De 1982 à 1994, il est en charge du département de muséographie du Centre des arts et des civilisations islamiques. Mourad Rammah est également directeur du Centre des manuscrits de Kairouan.
Copyedited by: Margot Cortez
Translation by: David Ash
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: TN 16
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)The Muslim West | Andalusian-Maghrebi Art
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