"Each part of the world recapitulates, shares in and experiences the history of the world as a whole"
Fernand Braudel

Leaning columns in baked clay

early 12th century, probably 505 H. / 1112 CE
The item consists of three leaning columns in baked clay, separated one from the other by a vertical row of baked bricks laid sideways. The side columns are composed of a base in the shape of a lotus flower and a cylindrical shaft ribbed and tapered towards the top. The central column has a vase-shaped pedestal, with petal-like decoration and a cylindrical shaft. The latter bears, in its lower section, an epigraphic band in foliated Kufic, inscribed with good wishes, and features in its upper section a vegetal composition enclosed in a trefoil pattern. The style of the writing and the nature of the ornamentation are comparable to the marble dado in the court of the palace of Mas‘ud III (see No. 2). A unique case among the findings of the palace, this piece provides insights into the assemblage techniques and the distribution of the decoration in the high number of isolated and fragmentary elements of columns (about 40). However, the interpretation of the exact positioning of the leaning columns (individually or in groups) within the palace remains problematic, their function being most likely that of pure decoration for the facades of the rooms opening onto the central courtyard. The elements of architectural decoration in baked bricks found in situ are in fact limited to the panelling of medium and large size that adorned the upper section of the walls above the marble dado. The various decorative elements characterizing this find (such as the type of Kufic of the inscription, the double scrolls at the base of the columns and the vegetal composition of the central column) allow toascribe it to the late Ghaznavid period and are presumably coeval with the marble dado of the court. The decoration of the shaft of the central column is also comparable to that carved on a column from the excavations of the presence chamber of the southern palace of Lashkar-i Bazar, which Sourdel-Thomine also dates to the late Ghaznavid period. The decoration of the shaft of the lateral columns is also found on a small column carved on a marble slab allegedly from Ghazni and currently preserved in the Linden Museum in Stuttgart. A further, more convincing comparison is provided by the shape of the columns carved on a so-called “mihrab-like” panel also allegedly from Ghazni, published by Bonhams (www.bonhams.uk, no. 15257.111), dated at 503 H. / 1110 CE (and not at [5]53 of the Hijra, as suggested by the auction house). It should be noted that the shape of lotus flower of the bases of the lateral columns and the petal-like shaft are found mainly in Ghurid times, as evidenced, for example, by an item in baked brick found in Bust (southern Afghanistan)

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