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Another aspect of Lighting

About the exhibition

In Raqqa windows made of stucco and inlaid with glass were excavated in the reception rooms of several Abbasid palaces. This is a unique find - so far from other contemporary sites only a few similar glass fragments were detected. The windows were apparently placed above the doors and consisted of rectangular or rounded stucco frames with small round openings.

These were closed with tiny window panes in a surprising variety of glass colours: pink, light and dark green, light and dark blue, transparent white, yellow and honey coloured. Towards the centre of the frame the design became rather complicated with delicate plaster bits in round and intersecting circles. Here most of the panes were transparent white, but often painted with black rosettes or geometrical patterns. Other windows have oval shaped panes, decorated with branches and fruits or small leaves.

These frames were rather thick with the glass set closer to one end (photo from the back). The visible side was blackened, presumably for heightening the effect. They are quite different from the intricate window grilles - qamriya - known from the earlier Umayyad palaces or the Great Mosque in Damascus, made of alabaster and marble, which can also have glass window panes or were left open.

No. 846 Window fragment, Raqqa, Abbasid palaces, 8th/9th century. Plaster, glass. W: 8,8 cm; L: 5,2 cm Th: 2,5cm
Reconstruction drawing of the stucco decoration and windows in an Abbasid palace. Drawing by Kurt Schmidt, Berlin. 2010