Bath Box

Not on view

The technique of marquetry and inlaying of wood with contrasting material has always enjoyed great popularity in Egypt, going back to Pharaonic times. Fine examples of Islamic work in the technique date from the ninth century onward. The right-angle linear interlace that surrounds the main panels of decoration, as well as the motifs that fill the elongated cartouche-shaped panel on the front and the lozenge-shaped panel on the top, descend directly—and with little change—from such decoration to be found on ninth-century Egyptian marquetry. The so-called star of David motifs, as well as the patterns of stars and hexagons that fill the larger ones, derive from Roman art, especially floor mosaics, and were especially popular in marquetry and woodwork of the Islamic period. Less distant echoes of decoration in other media are the outside borders of alternating hexagons and elongated hexagons, which ultimately derive from Seljuq architectural ornament and enjoyed popularity as borders for a variety of media, including bookbindings and carpets. Despite the profusion of old motifs present on this box, the background, with its flowering sprays, particularly the tulip blossoms, gives a sure indication of its Ottoman date.

Bath Box, Wood; inlaid with bone and colored-wood, and lathe-turned feet

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