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by Elhamy Naguib

Zoomorphic
Arabesques

This is a tiny detail from an ancient door inEgypt. It was ordered in AD 1321 for the mosque of Mamluk Prince Sunqur Elsaadi. The craftsman who was supposed to do floral patterns decided to think out of the box and end the tendrils with animals and birds. How many donkeys, giraffes, gazelles, leopards, and birds can you find? To see better, think like the artist and turn the page around. If there is zoomorphic calligraphy, do you think we can call this zoomorphic arabesque?


This door, made of cheap wood with brass inlays, is
now in the Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo.

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