Four Ivory Panels
11th and 12th centuries AD
Museum of Islamic Art at the Pergamon Museum
The four carved ivory panels represent some of the amazing art coming from the Fatimid court. These low relief, ivory, carved panels came from Egypt around the 11th and 12th centuries AD. Through the intricate and detailed representations of human and animal figures, these panels most likely were commissioned for a palace, presumably as part of a throne.
The decorations of the panels are oriented in two ways. Two of the panels are portrayed in a horizontal orientation, while the remaining two panels follow a vertical pattern. Together, the decorations of these four panels illustrate some of the many forms of entertainment enjoyed by the Fatimid court. For example, some huntsmen appear holding spear-like objects faced at a lion, while some are portrayed carrying the game from their hunt atop their shoulders. Additionally, images of musicians playing flutes and string instruments are replicated throughout. Animals are also portrayed interacting and fighting with one another. This is exemplified in the image of the lion atop of the gazelle or the repeated image of the falcon attacking a deer. Other figures are shown eating and drinking with one another in a celebratory manor. Amidst these entertaining images of court life, a prince-like figure lounges in repose with his goblet in hand. Ultimately, these images collectively allude to the enjoyable pastimes of the Fatimid nobility.
The details with which these figures are portrayed in also help to identify them among the Fatimid court. Specifically, the figures are all rendered in robe-like attire that varies from figure to figure. These robes are decorated with detailed designs and most likely resemble the garb of the Fatimid era. Further, headpieces embellish the outfits of the figures and, again, reiterate the traditional costume of the period.