A large Nasrid wooden roof beam carved with beautiful calligraphy from 14th Century Andalucia, some 298 cm in length, is estimated to attract bids of £30,000-50,000 at Bonhams
sale of Indian and Islamic Art on October 4th in New Bond Street London. This lot is accompanied by a carbon dating test.
The inscription carved into the beam includes the words al-mulk li'llah, 'Sovereignty is God's' and covers the wooden surface in a rhythmic movement alongside the vine carving, making this magnificent roof beam a work of art. The beam would most likely have come from deep within a palatial private home.
Carved wooden beams were used throughout the architecture of the Nasrids, who ruled Granada from 1238 to 1492. The finest examples of Nasrid carved beams can be found at the palace of the Alhambra where they are found together with carved stucco and ceramic mosaics decorating the ceilings and walls, vaults and arches of the palace complex.
The decorative style and carving technique found in this exceptional wooden beam are typical of Nasrid carving from Granada, particularly that of the 14th Century. During the time of Muhammad V (r.1354-59, and 1362-91) the inscriptions began to be intertwined with the ataurique motifs for the first time. Several distinguishing features, including the knotted motif on one of the horizontal shafts and the cartouche motif at the far right end of the beam, contribute to the attribution of this beam to 14th Century Granada.
The 14th century was a period of significant construction in Granada under the reign of Muhammad V, including the maristan or hospital, which was built in a prominent part of the Albaicín adjacent to the 11th century bath below the Alhambra walls. Several other large civic buildings, including the New Funduq (or Corral del Carbon) were constructed in the 14th century, which would have included carved wooden beams among its decorative repertoire.