Wood and Lacquer
Materials and technique
29.8 x 146 cm
This skilfully carved, long rectangular wooden beam includes an inscription in kufic of an Arabic couplet framed between two horizontal bands. The inscription is intertwined with an intricate vegetal design composed of interlacing vine scrolls ending in single leaves and split palmettes. Vegetal and epigraphic ornament are differentiated from one another by the addition of an increased amount of detailing carved into the foliate pattern; this helps highlight the inscription carved in the bevelled technique against the dense background. The overall carving style seems to have been common in Nasrid Spain (1238-1492) and even in contemporary North Africa in a variety of media. In Spain, it shows up in the stucco decoration of the “Hall of the Two Sisters” at the Alhambra, built in the fourteenth century (see Barrucand 2002, pp. 202-03). Similar motifs involving calligraphy juxtaposed with vegetal carving can also be observed in a wooden beam from Toledo dated 1360 and in a carved stucco panel from thirteenth- or fourteenth-century Spain or North Africa, both in the David Collection, Copenhagen (von Folsach 2001, p. 270 [no. 434, inv. no. D 14/1986] and p.251 [no. 400, inv. no. 35/1978, accidentally printed in reverse], respectively).
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