Frieze with vegetal decoration
Among the most frequent elements of architectural decoration in baked brick of Mas‘ud III’s palace in Ghazni, are the large friezes realized by assembling rectangular elements with vegetal decorative motifs, of which this find is one of the few whole specimens out of about 250 objects that were found. The frieze bears a deeply carved decoration which was presumably executed before the clay was baked and following the outline of a preparatory drawing of which few traces remain. The depth of the carving results in a marked light and shade effect and is influenced by the techniques of applying stucco typical of Mesopotamian and Iranian territories. The decoration is enclosed within a frame composed of two parallel lines that cross at regular intervals, generating circular motifs. It consists of symmetric and mirrored vines, with narrow plain scrolls and bi-lobed leaves filled in with alternate drop and triangle motifs. The find was originally entirely painted, like all the elements of architectural decoration in baked clay; only little traces of red are extant. The red, red ochre/hematite-based, was sometimes combined with other colours, such as yellow-ochre, blue and black (see No. 11), and was applied directly onto the surface or on a thin layer of plaster. A bright polychromy also characterized the decoration carved on the marble and alabaster elements. The nature of the ornamentation, the great quantity of fragments of this type revealed by the excavations and their retrieval in different rooms suggest they were frequently used in the decoration of the palace during the late-Ghaznavid dwelling phase. The discovery in the palace of about ten stucco fragments featuring exactly the same decoration, however, suggests the latter might have been used to repair/replace some of the original elements, probably during the reconstruction phase of the palace in the Ghurid era (late 12th-early 13th century). We report the presence of a baked clay fragment of this type of frieze, maybe from the palace, is re-used in the facade of a house along the main street of the village of Rawza. This is one of the rare instances of re-use of architectural baked-clay elements; while the phenomenon is widely documented in relation to marble elements (see No. 2).