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Not currently on display at the V&A

Panel

1296 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

These eight panels are amongst the finest examples of Egyptian Mamluk woodcarving (the Mamluks ruled Egypt and Syria between 1250 and 1517A.D). Such panels were used to decorate objects known as the minbar (pulpit in a mosque). Each individual panel formed part of the complex wooden inlay which covered the minbar. Mamluk carpentry techniques were highly innovative as once made, the wooden objects had to withstand the heat and humidity of the Egyptian climate. Such objects were made without any adhesive as the objects would expand and be damaged by the heat.

This group of panels once formed the surface decoration of a minbar commissioned by Sultan Lajin (d. 1299 A.D). It was built in 1296 A.D and placed in the ninth century Mosque of Ibn Tulun. As a Mamluk officer Lajin used the dilapidated mosque for shelter during a period of civil unrest, as he hid from his political enemies. He vowed that if he survived, he would repay the mosque by repairing it to its former glory. These exquisite minbar panels are an example of his vow. The Lajin panels are important examples of early Mamluk woodcarving, as they attest to the skill and creativity of early Mamluk carpentry. According to Stanley Lane-Poole (1854 – 1931 A.D.) in his book The Art of the Saracens in Egypt, the Lajin minbar panels were exceptional examples of carving skill and creativity; the panels represent the peak of Mamluk minbar design. The panels are also excellent examples of Mamluk wood carving: ivory would later eclipse wood as the chief material used in minbar inlay, as wood panel production declined during the fifteenth century.



object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 9 parts.

  • Panels
  • Architectural Panel
  • Architectural Panel
  • Architectural Panel
  • Architectural Panel
  • Architectural Panel
  • Architectural Panel
  • Architectural Panel
  • Architectural Panel
Materials and Techniques
Carved and inlaid panels: possibly made from rosewood and ebony woods
Brief Description
Eight wooden panels carved with two different levels of relief, Egypt, Mamluk period, 1296
Physical Description
A group of eight wooden panels carved in different levels of relief. The borders of all eight panels have been inlaid with narrow bands of wood. Two carved motifs are visible within the bands: a dark floral scrollwork and a lighter coloured studded strapwork. The dark floral scrollwork, forms the central carved design. Interlaced witn the floral scrollwork and carved in relief, is the lighter studded strapwork. Photography gives a clearer impression of the colouration of the scrollwork and strapwork. No two panels are the same: each has been carved with a different design. The shapes of the panels also vary. The group of panels is comprised of an eight sided star, a number of hexagonal panels and a trapezoid.

Dimensions
  • From register length: 18.625in
  • From register height: .125in
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
Object history
Together with another mounted panel of Lajin panels (V&A 1050-1869), these eight Lajin segments were purchased in Paris as part of "Dr Meymar's Collection", a group of historic objects sent to France by the Egyptian government, for display at the international exhibition of 1867. In 1869, following discussions at a parliamentary Select Committee in London, the South Kensington Museum (today the V&A) was authorised to buy this collection, with British government funds.



"Dr Meymar" was Husayn Fahmi (c.1827-1891), also called Husayn Pasha al-Mi`mar or al-Mi`mari (transliterated as "Meymar", meaning architect), a senior official in the Egyptian administration. He was (in 1864) the chief architect of the Majlis al-Tanzim wa'l-Urnatu, a committee in charge of public works in Cairo, and later (1882-5) a member of the Comite de conservation des monuments de l'Art arabe, which oversaw Cairo's historic heritage. Throughout his career, he was responsible for salvage and removal of historic architectural fittings, and for the construction of modern monuments and streets in the Egyptian capital.



In The Art of the Saracens in Egypt, Stanley Lane-Poole (1854-1931) described the Lajin minbar panels are exceptional examples of carving skill, representing the peak of Mamluk design. The panels are also excellent examples of Mamluk wood carving: ivory would later eclipse wood as the chief material used in minbar inlay, as wood panel production declined during the fifteenth century.



Over the second half of the nineteenth century the Lajin panels became collectible objects. Reporting on the 1867 Paris exhibition, Adalbert de Beaumont noted that "Dr Meymarie" (i.e. Husayn Fahmi) had recovered many decorative woodwork fragments from the mosque of Ibn Tulun in Cairo, damaged during renovations to the mihrab area. By 1885 the Lajin minbar had been stripped of its panels as interest in the Middle East peaked.
Associations
Summary
These eight panels are amongst the finest examples of Egyptian Mamluk woodcarving (the Mamluks ruled Egypt and Syria between 1250 and 1517A.D). Such panels were used to decorate objects known as the minbar (pulpit in a mosque). Each individual panel formed part of the complex wooden inlay which covered the minbar. Mamluk carpentry techniques were highly innovative as once made, the wooden objects had to withstand the heat and humidity of the Egyptian climate. Such objects were made without any adhesive as the objects would expand and be damaged by the heat.



This group of panels once formed the surface decoration of a minbar commissioned by Sultan Lajin (d. 1299 A.D). It was built in 1296 A.D and placed in the ninth century Mosque of Ibn Tulun. As a Mamluk officer Lajin used the dilapidated mosque for shelter during a period of civil unrest, as he hid from his political enemies. He vowed that if he survived, he would repay the mosque by repairing it to its former glory. These exquisite minbar panels are an example of his vow. The Lajin panels are important examples of early Mamluk woodcarving, as they attest to the skill and creativity of early Mamluk carpentry. According to Stanley Lane-Poole (1854 – 1931 A.D.) in his book The Art of the Saracens in Egypt, the Lajin minbar panels were exceptional examples of carving skill and creativity; the panels represent the peak of Mamluk minbar design. The panels are also excellent examples of Mamluk wood carving: ivory would later eclipse wood as the chief material used in minbar inlay, as wood panel production declined during the fifteenth century.



Collection
Accession Number
1085:1-1869

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record createdJune 24, 2009
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