Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History



  • Panel, Abbasid period (750–1258), early 9th century
    Iraq, Takrit
    Wood (teak), carved

    H. 29 1/2 in. (74.9 cm), W. 33 1/2 in. (85.1 cm)
    Rogers Fund, 1933 (33.41.1a–e)

    Talismans are not exclusive to portable objects. In the following example, the Seal of Solomon (a hexagram) is depicted on a carved teakwood panel from Abbasid Iraq. Unfortunately, the actual architectural edifice it came from remains a mystery. Yet it evokes the ways in which talismans are used on architectural surfaces. Like objects, a talisman protects a city, mosque, palace, or any edifice from unknown harm, be it a scorpion, a snake, a supernatural being, or an enemy. In addition, the Seal of Solomon seen here, as well as images of animals such as lions, snakes, and scorpions, were commonly used to protect buildings and their inhabitants from harsh weather and evil spirits.

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    On view: Gallery 451
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    Panel, Abbasid period (750–1258), early 9th century
    Iraq, Takrit
    Wood (teak), carved

    H. 29 1/2 in. (74.9 cm), W. 33 1/2 in. (85.1 cm)
    Rogers Fund, 1933 (33.41.1a–e)


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