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This wooden panel is is carved in relief in elegant thuluth script with a Koranic verse – Surah Yusuf 64, and says ‘Allah is the best guardian (or preserver), and He is the Most-Merciful of all the merciful.’
The script runs horizontally across the panel from right to left and then vertically in a column on the left.
It most likely dates to the late Mamluk Dynasty in Egypt, or possibly Yemen. (The Mamluks overran Yemen at around this time.)
The calligraphy has traces of gilding and originally, the panel was painted with the letters highlighted in gold.
Most probably the panel is from a door, or a lintel, or perhaps a large item of furniture.
The lower register of the panel is lined with metal domed studs. These and the front of the panel show significant age.
Folsach, K., von, Art from the World of Islam: in the David Collection, 2001.
Seif El Rashidi, pers.comms., London.