Shoulder of a Figure with Blue Drapery, Stucco; painted

Shoulder of a Figure with Blue Drapery

Object Name:
Fragment of a wall painting
9th–10th century
Excavated in Iran, Nishapur
Stucco; painted
Obj without setting: H. 6 5/8 in. (16.8 cm)
W. 9 13/16 in. (24.9 cm)
Object with setting: H. 7 1/8 in. (18.1 cm)
W. 10 3/4 in. (27.3 cm)
D. 1 1/16 in. (2.7 cm)

Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1938
Accession Number:
Not on view
Colored with blue, yellow, black and traces of red, this fragment from a wall painting was excavated from the mound at Nishapur known as Sabz Pushan (the Green Covered). The excavations at Sabz Pushan revealed part of a residential neighborhood dating to the tenth century. This and several similar fragments were found deposited in the bottom of a well dug into the floor of what was likely a domestic unit after having been chipped off a wall and discarded, so their original location is not known. Several are now housed in the Metropolitan Museum, and include 38.40.267, 38.40.268, 38.40.270, 38.40.271.
While we can only guess at the scene or scenes to which these fragments of painting belonged, it is clear that the subject matter was figural. Several of the fragments contain parts of human heads and this piece shows what may be the draped shoulder of a lute player. The body of the lute appears in the lower right-hand corner of the fragment and the shoulder in blue just above. If this interpretation is correct, the scene to which this piece belonged may have depicted a musical session. The related theme of merriment appears elsewhere in Nishapur’s material culture, including the vibrantly painted ceramics that show scenes of drinking and feasting (40.170.14).
1937, excavated at Sabz Pushan in Nishapur, Iran by the Metropolitan Museum of Art's expedition; 1938, acquired by the Museum in the division of finds

Wilkinson, Charles K. Nishapur: Some Early Islamic Buildings and their Decoration. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1986. p. 246, ill. fig. 3.49 (b/w).