Prime Student 6-month Trial


Enthroned Ruler And His Entourage

Frontispiece of Volume 4 from a copy of Abu'l-Faraj al-Isfahani's Kitab al-Aghani
(Book of Songs) Iraq, Mosul; 610H/1219AD


Cairo, Egyptian National Library, Ms Farsi 579

In one of the frontispieces of the Kitab al-Aghani (fig. 25), painted in Mosul, c. 1215—19, we actually find, in a row at the bottom of the page, an all-female ensemble playing the same instruments as represented on the [Courtauld] bag — frame drum, flute, lute and harp. This combination of percussion, wind and string instruments is quite typical. Various types of plucked string instruments are found represented on artefacts and paintings, and one may suggest that less important than the differences in sonority between them was the contrast between the sustained notes of the wind instruments and the sharper attacks and quicker decay of the string instruments, the attacks reinforcing the rhythmic structure articulated by the frame drum.
Source: Picturing music in Islamic art by Anna Contadini



Referenced in note 52, Jeremy Johns, Muslim Artists and Christian Models in the Painted Ceilings of the Cappella Palatina
However, the curule chair was known in medieval Islam ... In Islamic painting of the early 13th century, it is particularly associated with royalty: a curule chair serves as the throne for Badr al-Dīn Luʾluʾ in frontispieces of the Cairo and Istanbul Kitāb al-Aghānī (Cairo, Dār al-Kutub, 579 adab, vol. IV, fol. 2a, Baghdad, AH614/1217–1218AD


Back to Frontispieces of Kitab al-Aghani



See Musician tuning a Triangular Psaltery. Cappella Palatina: Nave ceiling, Muqarnas, Northeast corner unit, Panel 27. Palermo, Sicily, Italy.