Marble balustrade with building text
This is a pierced balustrade in marble, of low rectangular shape. The deep openwork panel with a pattern of intersecting hexagons is framed by an epigraphic band carved in cursive script; a small fleur-de-lis (or trefoil) is set in the right corner of the epigraphic band. Another epigraphic band is carved on one of the later faces of the object. The topmost face of the balustrade bears a hole, probably meant for the insertion of a decorative vertical element. The inscription bears a construction text, stating the date of the work’s completion, 1 ramadan 505 H/ 1-2 March 1112 CE, and the name of the architect. The inscription is carved in a low bas-relief with slightly rounded edges, quite regularly executed and with small variations in the distance of the letters; the execution of the interlaced strap work was geometrically planned. This balustrade is one of a pair; the inscription on the second one, albeit almost completely abraded, repeats nearly the same text (only the name of the architect differs); both were brought to light in the courtyard’s northwest corner of the palace excavated in Ghazni by the Italian archaeological mission and attributed to Mas‘ud III (for the excavations see No. 2). The texts do not mention the building whose construction they celebrate: it could be the palace or only a part of it, maybe the mosque, in whose vicinity the artefacts were retrieved. The date corresponds to the last years of reign of the Ghaznavid sovereign Mas‘ud III (r. 1099-1115). The balustrades were probably employed together with the arched frame also from the palace of Masud III (No. 3), as their inscriptions have complementary contents: the latter bears the name and titles of Mas‘ud III, the former a building text with no mention of the patron, but dated in the year of reign of the same sovereign. The dimension of the three artefacts would allow the composition of a small pavilion-like structure, whose base would be a parapet made of the balustrades and whose upper part would be an arched structure. The resulting composite structure would have a more complete building text, bearing both the name of the patron and the date, where the dominant role would be given to the inscription mentioning the patron, Mas‘ud III (see No. 3).