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Fragment of an Umayyad Mural Painting of an Arab Woman
Qasr al-Hayr al-Gharbi, Syria.

National Museum of Damascus

A larger detail of this Fragment of an Umayyad Mural Painting of an Arab Woman. Qasr al-Hayr al-Gharbi, Syria. National Museum of Damascus.

Name of Object: Fragment of a mural painting
Location: Damascus, Syria
Holding Museum: National Museum of Damascus
Date of Object: Hegira 109 / AD 727
Museum Inventory Number: QHG
Material(s) / Technique(s): Plaster, using the fresco technique.
Dimensions: Height 41 cm, width 39 cm
Period / Dynasty: Umayyad
Provenance: Syrian Desert; 80 km southwest of Palmyra.

This fragment belongs to a group of fresco paintings that once adorned the walls of the second floor of Qasr al-Hayr al-Gharbi. It shows the face of a woman in three-quarter profile with a fashionable, delicate shawl wrapped around her head and draping over her shoulders. She wears earrings and the black curls of her hair frame her forehead and cheeks. She is situated amidst a background of geometric and stylised vegetal patterns.
Her features are those of an Arab woman. Archaeologists believe she is a songstress from the palace. Historical sources mention that songstresses were brought from the Hijaz region, in the western Arabian Desert, to sing in the Umayyad palaces of the Syrian Desert.
Original Owner: Caliph Hisham bin 'Abd al-Malik (r. 105-125 / 72443)
How date and origin were established: This object, along with the rest of the palace complex, was dated according to the inscription located on the door lintel of the khan adjoining the palace. The inscription specifies the year AH 109 / AD 727 as the year the building was constructed and the Umayyad Caliph Hisham bin 'Abd al-Malik is named as its patron.
Source: Mona al-Moadin "Fragment of a mural painting" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2019.

See also a Floor painting with hunting scene, Umayyad, Qasr al-Hayr al-Gharbi c.724-43AD
Illustrations of Arabian Costume and Soldiers
Other 8th Century Illustrations of Costume and Soldiers