The Craft and Building Scenes in the Fresco Paintings of Qusayr Amra

Raed R. al-Shar'a


The extensive Fresco paintings of Qusayr Amra, an Umayyad bath complex, are characterized by their rich iconographic repertoire, which includes hunting and bathing scenes, musicians, dancers, acrobats and wrestlers. It has been proposed that such scenes depict the pastimes of members of the ruling elite as a way of indicating their royal status. The eastern vault of the audience-hall is divided into thirty-two panels arranged in four rows; they depict various craftsmen (e.g. masons, carpenters and blacksmiths) and activities connected with construction works. At first sight these panels appear to be anomalous with no apparent relationship to the other scenes. In addition to describing the sequence of the various crafts and the implements used, this essay attempts to show that these panels were intended to indicate the elevated social status of the patron of Qusayr Amra, and the material resources at his disposal; they were a kind of secular self-celebration of success and wealth.


Fresco paintings, Iconographic repertoire, Crafts and building activities, Prestige and success

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