Panel from a cenotaph
London, England, United Kingdom
Victoria and Albert Museum
Hegira 613 / AD 1216
Length 158.3 cm, height 43.2 cm
A carved wooden panel, which once formed part of the cenotaph of Fakhr al-Din Abu al-Tahir Isma’il, an official in the service of the Ayyubid Sultan al-Malik al-‘Adil (r. AH 596–615 / AD 1200–1218). The surface of the panel is divided into smaller panels of varying size, with a long continuous one at the top and seven smaller ones below it. Each of the panels is carved into an abstract arabesque pattern. The spaces between these panels are filled with inscriptions, including verses from the Qur’an and benedictory phrases. Importantly, the date of the panel is given in the lower section. This panel is an interesting example of the re-use of materials in Islamic art, for it was carved on the back of a panel which bears decoration in the style of the Tulunid era (AH 254–92 / AD 868–905).View Short Description
A wooden panel which once formed part of the cenotaph of an Ayyubid official. Its surface is divided into smaller sections, each carved with an arabesque pattern. It was carved on the back of a panel which bears decoration in the style of the Tulunid period, some three centuries earlier.
The inscription gives the date as Rajab 613 / October–November 1216.
Purchased by the Museum in 1883.
Lane-Poole, S., The Art of the Saracens in Egypt, London, 1886, p.122.
Barry Wood "Panel from a cenotaph" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2018. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;uk;Mus02;49;en
Prepared 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.
Copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: UK2 66