Two wooden columns
Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Turkey
Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts
Hegira 7th century / AD 13th century
Height 85 cm, width 19 cm, depth 19 cm
Two wooden columns with square-prism bodies, each with two sides decorated with deep carving. The sides are divided into a series of rectangular panels. Within the panels a text of 16 lines has been carved in floriated kufic script, eight lines per side.
The column with inventory number 145 features the text from Qur'an sura 19, verses 96–8. The verses begin on one side of the column and are read downward, continuing on the other side.
The column with inventory number 146 features text from the Qur'an sura 2, verse 285. Different from the other column, after the first lines on each side finish, they continue from the second panel on the first side, to the other side, and so on down to the panels below.
Although it is not known from which building these wooden columns came, or what purpose they served, the fact that Qur'anic verses are found on them suggests that they were used as architectural elements in a religious building.
These wooden columns are decorated with carved Qur'anic verses in floriate kufic script. They date to the Ayyubid period, a dynasty that ruled in Syria and Egypt during the AH 6th–7th / AD 12th–13th centuries. Technical and stylistic features of this period's woodwork reflect Fatimid influence.
The objects are not dated, however, judging from the stylistic characteristics of the inscription, they can be dated to the 7th / 13th century and attributed to the Ayyubids, who ruled Damascus and Syria in this period and who are known for their woodwork.
The columns were among the objects transferred to the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts from Damascus in 1914.
According to inventory documents, the columns were transferred to the Museum from Damascus, where it is likely they were produced.
Ölçer, N. et al, Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art, Istanbul, 2002, pp.76–7.
Gönül Tekeli "Two wooden columns" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2017. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;tr;Mus01;6;en
Prepared by: Gönül Tekeli
Translation by: Barry WoodBarry Wood
Barry Wood is Curator (Islamic Gallery Project) in the Asian Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He studied history of art at Johns Hopkins University and history of Islamic art and architecture at Harvard University, from where he obtained his Ph.D. in 2002. He has taught at Harvard, Eastern Mediterranean University, the School of Oriental and African Studies, and the Courtauld Institute of Art. He has also worked at the Harvard University Art Museums and the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. He has published on topics ranging from Persian manuscripts to the history of exhibitions., İnci Türkoğluİnci Türkoğlu
İnci Türkoğlu has been working as a tourist guide and freelance consultant in tourism and publishing since 1993. She was born in Alaşehir, Turkey, in 1967. She graduated from the English Department of Bornova Anatolian High School in 1985 and lived in the USA for a year as an exchange student. She graduated from the Department of Electronic Engineering of the Faculty of Architecture and Engineering, Dokuz Eylül University, Izmir, and the professional tourist guide courses of the Ministry of Tourism in 1991. She worked as an engineer for a while. She graduated from the Department of Art History, Faculty of Letters, Ege University, Izmir, in 1997 with an undergraduate thesis entitled “Byzantine House Architecture in Western Anatolia”. She completed her Master's at the Byzantine Art branch of the same department in 2001 with a thesis entitled “Synagogue Architecture in Turkey from Antiquity to the Present”. She has published on art history and tourism.
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: TR 11
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)The Atabegs and Ayyubids | Religious Life
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