Panel from a Cenotaph or Symbolic Coffin with Marquetry Decoration

Object Name: Panel

Date: second half 8th century

Geography: probably Egypt

Culture: Islamic

Medium: Wood (fig); mosaic with bone and four different types of wood

Dimensions: H. 18 3/4 in. (47.6 cm)
W. 76. 1/2 in. (194.3 cm)
H. 24 1/2 in.
W. 80 1/2 in.
D. 6 in.
Wt. 97 lbs. (44 kg) with mount and plexi

Classification: Wood

Credit Line: Samuel D. Lee Fund, 1937

Accession Number: 37.103


Possibly from the side of a cenotaph (a monument erected in honor of a person whose remains are elsewhere), this elaborate fig-wood panel inlaid with bone incorporates decorative elements from both the late antique and Sasanian traditions. The geometric motifs seem to derive directly from the Roman mosaic repertoire, and the carved bone plaques in the central section bear vine scrolls with a purely classical lineage. The winglike designs in the arch spandrels and the central square are of Sasanian derivation and were incorporated into the Islamic vocabulary as early as the late seventh century.