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Stained glass plaster window decorated with a cypress Tree in the center

Stained glass plaster window decorated with a cypress Tree in the center
© BA Antiquities Museum/M. Mounir

Registration Number(s)
BAAM Serial Bibliotheca Alexandrina Antiquities Museum Number 1005

Inv.Inventory
 (M. of Islamic Art) 9392/1

where to find


showcase 25

Stained glass plaster window decorated with a cypress Tree in the center

Category:
Architecture, building accessories, stucco stained glass windows
Date:
Ottoman Period (1517-1922)
Provenance:
Unknown
Material(s):
  • Man made material, glass
  • Man made material, plaster
Hall:
Islamic Antiquities, showcase 25


Description

A glass window decorated with floral designs in different colours surrounding a poplar tree. The designs are in gypsum plaster and encase the coloured glass. The frame is surrounded by a gypsum frame of pearls. The outer frame of the window is also in gypsum plaster, ending in corners in the shape of an X, thus creating four triangles in each corner enclosing coloured glass.

Windows

There were two types of windows in use: 'blind' windows, which were just for decoration or to keep or to display belongings inside and windows that were used to allow sunlight in, for ventilation and to watch the goings-on outside. Windows could be narrow from the inside and large from the outside to enlarge the angle of vision on the one hand and to allow light in without the glaring sunlight on the other.

The wide windows in Islamic houses were facing the internal courtyard of the house, while narrow windows were inserted in the outside walls overlooking the street. This architecture was designed to protect the homeowner and his household from the gaze of the curious or passers-by in the street.

Types of Windows

One type of windows was called the "shamseyat" (of the sun). These windows were made of stone, marble or gypsum which was emptied or perforated to form geometrical or floral designs or writing. The empty space was usually filled with coloured glass. The first such window is in the Ummayad Mosque. The second type of windows was called "qamareyat" (of the moon). These were narrow openings on top of doors or windows or installed in the walls to provide a dim light, like the moon's. These two types of windows represent a salient characteristic of Arab and Islamic buildings which found a way to combine functionality with aesthetics. These windows also prevented insects from crawling into the building.

Tracery glass is one of the main arts in Islamic heritage. The first gypsum and coloured glass windows appeared during the Ayyubid period, but reached their apex during the Mameluke era. The Ottomans adopted this style of windows and it thus became the predominant one.


The information given here is subject to modification/update as a result of ongoing research.

Bibliography
  • يحيي وزيري. موسوعة عناصر العمارة الإسلامية. الطبعة الأولى. القاهرة: مكتبة مدبولي، 1999.
  • أكمل الدين إحسان أوغلي. المشربيات والزجاج المعشق في العالم الإسلامي. إعداد: نزيه طالب معروف. إستانبول: مركز الأبحاث للتاريخ والفنون والثقافة الإسلامية، 2002.
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