Exhibitions/ Art Object

Fragment Carved with Vine Scroll and a Triangle Trimmed with Bead-and-Reel Motif

mid-8th century
Made in Jordan, Qasr al-Mshatta
Limestone, carved
23 x 39 x 16 in. (58.4 x 99.1 x 40.6 cm)
Credit Line:
Department of Antiquities, Qasr al-Mshatta Archaeological Site, Jordan
Not on view
Qasr al-Mshatta
The unfinished palace at Mshatta near Amman, Jordan is the largest of the Umayyad palaces. Resembling a fortress with its twenty-five semicircular towers and monumental entrance gate, it had a grand audience hall on the same axis as the entrance. The gatehouse complex near the entrance included a mosque. The exterior walls flanking the entrance gate were covered with elaborately carved decoration in the Byzantine tradition. The building may have been ordered by the Umayyad caliph al-Walid II (r. 743–44) to welcome those returning from the pilgrimage (hajj) to Mecca and then left unfinished at his death.
This elaborately decorated fragment was part of the tip of a triangle on the faade at Mshatta that defined the decoration of the external walls. To the left of the tip is scrolling vegetation and to the right is a portion of a beaded medallion.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition (7th–9th Century)," March 12, 2012–July 8, 2012.