Name of Object:

Wooden panel


Cairo, Egypt

Holding Museum:

Museum of Islamic Art


Hegira 3rd century / AD 9th century

Type of object:

Woodwork, panel, wood

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Wood decorated in high relief.


Length 192 cm, width 32 cm

Period / Dynasty:



Fustat, Egypt.


A rectangular wooden panel decorated with two narrow borders flanking a broad central band. The two narrow borders are ornamented with an epigraphic inscription in kufic script, which consists of the bismillah (In the Name of God) and the 'Throne' verse (2: 255) as well as the expression 'Hasbi Allah' ('Allah is sufficient for me'). The broad central band is ornamented with geometric motifs, which divide it into seven square-shaped sections. All sections are decorated with vegetal decorations, winged motifs, oval forms and tri-lobed leaf designs. The third and fifth squares hold a lobed arch, within which is vegetal decoration and, flanking the triangular areas between the outer curvature of the arch and the corners of the square-shaped section, are further vegetal motifs. Both the decorative style and the carving of this piece portray a Hellenic stamp, seen in the relief carving of decorative motifs, the oval shapes, the tri-lobed leaves and the vegetal stems. The panel also displays Sassanid influences seen in the winged motifs and lobed arches.

View Short Description

How date and origin were established:

This panel was dated based on study into the development of kufic script, the origins of the decorative motifs, and the technique of manufacture, which included high relief, decorative motifs, winged designs, oval forms and vegetal motifs. Furthermore, during the Abbasid period, entire texts were used as inscriptions on objects; it is possible, therefore, to date this piece to the early part of the Abbasid era.

How Object was obtained:

The object was discovered during the course of archaeological excavations at Fustat.

How provenance was established:

Wooden panels were used to furnish mosques and residences, and embellished tribunes and chairs. Egypt, Fustat in particular, was famous for the production of such panels in the early Islamic period, and production flourished during the Fatimid and Mamluk periods. Many of these panels were discovered in Fustat where they were used to protect the walls of small tombs from the dust and dirt that might fall from the grave onto the deceased.

Selected bibliography:

Abu Sadaira, al-Sayyed Taha al-Sayyed, Al-Hiraf al-Sina'at fi Masr al-Islamiya [Handicrafts and Manufactures in Islamic Egypt], Cairo, 1991.
Hassan, Z. M., Al-Fan al-Islami fi Masr [Islamic Art in Egypt], Cairo, 1935.
Marzuq, Muhammad Abd al-Aziz, Al-Funun al-Zukhrufiya al-Islamiya fi Masr qabl 'Asr al-Fatimiyyin [Islamic Decorative Arts in Egypt before the Fatimid period], Cairo, 1974.
Pauty, E., Les bois sculptés jusqu'à l'époque ayyoubide, Cairo, 1931.
Rizq, A. M., Marakiz al-Sina'at fi Masr al-Islamiya [Manufacturing Centres in Islamic Egypt], Cairo, 1989.

Citation of this web page:

Muhammad Abbas Muhammad Selim "Wooden panel" in Discover Islamic Art , Museum With No Frontiers, 2019.;ISL;eg;Mus01;36;en&id=furniture_and_woodwork

Prepared by: Muhammad Abbas Muhammad SelimMuhammad Abbas Muhammad Selim

He graduated from the Faculty of Archaeology, Cairo University in 1974 and received an MA on Abbasid Tiraz textiles from the same university in 1995. He has worked at the Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo since 1975. He attended a textile conservation course in Vienna while studying different collections at Austrian museums for five months. He co-authored the first catalogue of the Abegg Foundation in Bern in 1995, the catalogue of the Islamic Art Museum in Cairo and the forthcoming catalogue of the Egyptian Textile Museum. He lectured on Fatimid Art in Switzerland in 1997 and at the Ismaili Centre for Islamic Studies in London in 2003. He has classified and studied the Islamic collection at the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, London, and is currently preparing to publish its catalogues.

Copyedited by: Majd Musa
Translation by: Amal Sachedina (from the Arabic).
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez

MWNF Working Number: ET 65