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Fountain basin

Fountain basin

  • Place of origin:

    Syria (made)
    Hama (made)

  • Date:

    1277 (dated)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved marble

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Islamic Middle East, Room 42, The Jameel Gallery, case 17, shelf EXP

This magnificent basin was made for al-Malik al-Mansur, the governor of Hama in Syria from 1244 to 1284. It may have adorned the courtyard of a mosque he founded. The basin is hemispherical while the inscription band is octagonal. This recalls Islamic architecture, where an octagonal zone often provides the transition between a square hall and circular dome. The carving is delicately done in two levels of relief, which is characteristic of carving in stone, wood and ivory in the early years of the rule of Mamluk sultans in Egypt and Syria, from around 1250 to 1300. There is a plainer area in the decoration where the basin was probably set against a wall.

Physical description

Carved marble. The Arabic inscription gives the date, as well as the name and titles of the local ruler al-Malik al-Mansur Muhammad (1244-1284) son of Muhammad, son of 'Umar, son of Shahanshah, son of Ayyub.

Place of Origin

Syria (made)
Hama (made)


1277 (dated)



Materials and Techniques

Carved marble

Marks and inscriptions

'Glory to our Lord the Sultan, the King, the Victorious, the Wise, Muhammad, son of the Sultan, the King, the Victorious, the Wise, Mahmud, son of Muhammad, son of Umar, son of Shahanshah, son of Ayyub. (In the) year 676'


Height: 50 cm, Diameter: 97 cm, Weight: 213 kg

Descriptive line

Marble basin from an ablutions fountain, Syria (Hama), dated 1277.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Ayers, J. Oriental Art in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 1983, 111.
Gaston Migeon, "Hama de Syrie", in Syria: Revue d'Art Oriental et d'Archéologie II, 1921, pp.1-5, plate II

Labels and date

Jameel Gallery

Marble Basin from Ablutions Fountain
Syria, Hama
Dated 1277

An ablutions fountain provides a constant supply of clean water so that the faithful can wash before prayer, as they are required to do. This grand basin formed the main part of such a fountain. It would have stood in the main courtyard of a mosque.

The man who commissioned the basin is named below the 12-sided rim. He was al-Malik al-Mansur, the Ayyubid prince who ruled Hama between 1244 and 1284.

Carved marble

Museum no. 335-1903
[Jameel Gallery]
From Hama in Syria.
The Arabic inscription gives the name and titles of the local ruler al-Malik al -Mansur Muhammad (1244-84), son of al-Muzaffar Mahmud, son of Muhammad, son of Umar, son of Shahanshah, son of Ayyub; and the date.
SYRIAN; dated 676 A.H./1277 A.D. [Used until 11/2003]





Subjects depicted

Scrolling foliage


Sculpture; Islam


Middle East Section

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