Minbar thumbnail 1
Minbar thumbnail 2
+17
images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Islamic Middle East, Room 42, The Jameel Gallery

Minbar

1468-1496 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

A minbar, or pulpit, stands to the right of the mihrab niche in major mosques. It is used for the sermons delivered during the midday prayer on Friday, the main service of the week.

Several woodworking techniques were used to decorate the structure, as here. Most striking are the panels assembled from hundreds of small, carefully shaped pieces of wood. Many, including this one, are set with carved ivory elements, which highlight the complex geometric designs.

The decoration often included carved inscriptions. Here they include the name of Sultan Qa'itbay, who ruled Egypt and Syria from 1468 to 1496. During this time, he earned a reputation for piety. He founded and restored many religious buildings and supplied them with minbars (mosque pulpits).


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.
(Some alternative part names are also shown below)
  • Minbar
  • Pulpit
  • Minbar
  • Pulpit
Materials and Techniques
Carved wood, inlaid with ivory
Brief Description
Minbar (Islamic pulpit) made for Sultan Qa'itbay, Cairo, Egypt, 1468-1496
Physical Description
Islamic pulpit, of carved wood, inlaid with ivory.
Dimensions
  • Height: 708cm
  • Width: 93cm
  • Depth: 303cm
  • Weight: 700kg
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
Gallery Label
  • Jameel Gallery Minbar for Sultan Qa’itbay Egypt, probably Cairo 1468–96 A minbar, or pulpit, is used for the sermons delivered during the midday prayer on Friday, the main service of the week. Several woodworking techniques were used to decorate the structure. Most striking are the panels assembled from hundreds of small, carefully shaped pieces of wood. Carved ivory elements highlight the complex geometric designs. Sultan Qa’itbay, who ruled Egypt from 1468 to 1496, is named in several of the inscriptions. Cedar with inlay of ivory and wood, traces of paint and gilding Museum no. 1050-1869 (2010)
  • Jameel Gallery Minbar for Sultan Qa'itbay Egypt, probably Cairo 1468-96 A minbar, or pulpit, is placed to the right of the mihrab niche in major mosques. It is used for the sermons delivered during the midday prayer on Friday, the main service of the week. Several woodworking techniques were used to decorate the structure. Most striking are the panels assembled from hundreds of small, carefully shaped pieces of wood. Many are set with carved ivory elements, which highlight the complex geometric designs. The name of Sultan Qa'itbay, who ruled Egypt and Syria from 1468-96, appears in several of the inscriptions. Cedar with joined, carved, turned and fretted decoration, inlay of carved plaques of ivory, wood and ivory mosaic work, and traces of paint and gilding Museum no. 1050-1869(2006-2009)
  • MIMBAR (pulpit) Wood inlaid with ivory. Erected by the Sultan Qaitbay in his mosque in Cairo. EGYPTIAN (MAMLUK); end of the 15th century.(Used until 11/2003)
Object history
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.

Reporting on the 1867 Paris exhibition, Adalbert de Beaumont noted that "Dr Meymarie" had recovered decorative woodwork fragments from the mosque of Ibn Tulun in Cairo, damaged during renovations to the mihrab area.
Historical context
Sultan Qa'itbay sponsored a great revival of the arts in Egypt and Syria during his long reign, especially the production of objects used to adorn mosques. This minbar (pulpit), a masterpiece of Islamic woodwork, was part of that program and bears inscriptions with Qa'itbay's name and titles. The decorative scheme is a time-honoured one consisting of central stars which "radiate" intersecting polygons. The design has been carefully assembled like a mosaic from precisely cut strips of wood, then ornamented with materials of subtly contrasting colors, such as ivory and ebony, to create a beautifully integrated ensemble.
Production
Dating is based on the attribution to Qaitbay's reign .
Subjects depicted
Associations
Summary
A minbar, or pulpit, stands to the right of the mihrab niche in major mosques. It is used for the sermons delivered during the midday prayer on Friday, the main service of the week.



Several woodworking techniques were used to decorate the structure, as here. Most striking are the panels assembled from hundreds of small, carefully shaped pieces of wood. Many, including this one, are set with carved ivory elements, which highlight the complex geometric designs.



The decoration often included carved inscriptions. Here they include the name of Sultan Qa'itbay, who ruled Egypt and Syria from 1468 to 1496. During this time, he earned a reputation for piety. He founded and restored many religious buildings and supplied them with minbars (mosque pulpits).
Associated Object
Bibliographic Reference
Tim Stanley (ed.), with Mariam Rosser-Owen and Stephen Vernoit, Palace and Mosque: Islamic Art from the Middle East, London, V&A Publications, 2004pp.24, 28, 37, 100
Collection
Accession Number
1050:1 to 2-1869

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record createdOctober 6, 2000
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