The Damascus Room is a residential winter reception chamber, called a “Qa’a” typical of the late Ottoman period. The Qa’a is a roofed reception room found in the domestic architecture of affluent residences of the Islamic world. It is the most common hall type in medieval Islamic domestic architecture. They were used to welcome male guests, where they would sit on the raised platform. The Damascus Room is a winter Qa’a from Damascus, Syria.
Poetry inscribed on its walls indicates that the patron was Muslim. The inscription dates most of the woodwork elements in the room to A.D. 1707. However, alterations were made to the room in the later three centuries. The woodwork’s relief decorations are made of gesso covered with gold leaf, tin leaf with coloured glazes, and bright egg tempera paint. This Ottoman-Syrian technique created a rich texture with varied surfaces that changed with changes in the lighting.
The Qa’a is one of many reception rooms found in Ottoman and Islamic countries. A Qa’a was common in affluent houses of a merchant or political figure and did not have any fixed furniture as it was set for the occasion or the season. If the Qa’a is used for the summer, they would have the windcatcher to direct breeze into the room during summer time. The Qa’a can also be used as a sleeping room, where bedding rolls and carpets would be placed to be used for sleeping.
- Beyond the Islamic calligraphy, what are the essential Islamic features of this room?
- What aspects of this style and architecture would you like to have in one of your rooms?
Explore Islamic Art Collection in the Metropolitan Museum of Art – MET
- Title: Damascus Room
- Date: 1707
- Geography: Syria, Damascus
- Medium: Wood (poplar) with gesso relief, gold and tin leaf, glazes and paint; wood (cypress, poplar, and mulberry), mother-of-pearl, marble and other stones, stucco with glass, plaster ceramic tiles, iron, brass
- Dimensions: H. 22 ft. 1/2 in. x 16 ft. 8 1/2 in. (671.6 x 509.2 cm), D. 26 ft. 4 3/4 in. (804.2 cm)
- Museum: Metropolitan Museum of Art – MET
“Haste is of the devil, slowness is of God.”
– Islamic Proverb
Photo Credit: 1) JOM