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A Fatimid Bowl with a Wrestling Match
Cairo Museum of Islamic Art, 9689.

Wrestling Scene {fragmentary} on a Luster Painted Pottery Bowl. Egypt, Fatimid Period,
eleventh or twelfth century. {Diameter 383 mm.} No. 9689, Museum of Islamic Art, Cairo.

       The new type of realistic painting is known to us mainly from figure designs painted on pottery or carved in wood or ivory from eleventh and twelfth century Egypt; more monumental examples either have been lost or remain to be discovered. A typical example is on a fragmentary bowl in the Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo. It shows a wrestling match between two bearded wrestlers of individual mien who are clad only in trunks. The exhibition of their art is witnessed by several turbaned people sitting or standing around; one of them to the left might even be the umpire. These spectators show their excitement by raising their arms in vivid gestures. Such a lively tableau must have been on view many times in the squares of the large and small cities of Egypt; but it was only in this period (eleventh century) that it was considered interesting enough to become the subject of a painting, and then it was placed on an object of potential use.

Source: pp. 55-56, Arab painting by Richard Ettinghausen, (1977)

Previous: Bowl with Leopard and Man, Fatimid Egypt, c.11th Century. Benaki Museum, Greece.
Next: Fatimid dancer on an ivory panel, 11th-12th century, Louvre Museum, Paris, OA 6265/2; OA 6266.

Back to Fatimid Musicians, Dancers, Revellers, Labourers and Coptic Priest, 10th - 12th Centuries

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