19C Saudi Mashrabiya Screen

PRESENTING a GORGEOUS AND RARE 19C Saudi Mashrabiya Screen.

Known as a “Harem Screen’, this screen would have been installed in a window opening into the women’s quarters of a wealthy Middle Eastern household. It’s purpose was to shield the view of the ladies in the harem from direct visibility, by the men on the other side

Made of teak, circa 1850-80 and from Saudi Arabia.

This piece was originally purchased by a US family in the oil and gas business, who resided in Saudi Arabia in the 1980’s, where it was purchased from an antique gallery in Riyadh.

GORGEOUS fretwork carving in classic Islamic style.


mashrabiya (Arabic: مشربية‎), also either shanshūl (شنشول) or rūshān (روشان), is an architectural element which is characteristic of Arabic residences. It is a type of projecting oriel window enclosed with carved wood latticework located on the second story of a building or higher, often lined with stained glass. The mashrabiya is an element of traditional Arabic architecture used since the Middle Ages up to the mid-20th century. It is most commonly used on the street side of the building; however, it may also be used internally on the sahn (courtyard) side.[1] The style may be informally known as a “harem window” in English.

The date of their origin is unknown; however, the earliest evidence of the mashrabiya in its current form dates back to the 12th century in Baghdad, during the Abbasid period.[4] The mashrabiya that remain in Arabic cities were mostly built during the late 19th century and early-to-mid-20th century, but some mashrabiyas are three to four hundred years old. An extant example of an ancient residence incorporating mashrabiya is the Bayt al-Razzaz – a two-storey mansion dating to the Mamluk period in Cairo.[5]

In Iraq during the 1920s and 1930s, the designs of the latticework were influenced by the Art Deco and Art Nouveau movements of the time.

Mashrabiyas, along with other distinct features of Arabic architecture, were being demolished as part of a modernisation program across the Arab world from the first decades of the 20th-century.[6] In Baghdad, members of the arts community feared that vernacular architecture would be lost permanently and took steps to preserve them.[7] The architect, Rifat Chadirji and his father, Kamil, photographed structures and monuments across Iraq and the Saudi region, and published a book of photographs.[8] The artist and educator, Lorna Selim, sketched these buildings with their decorative mashrabiya, and took her students at Baghdad’s Institute of Architecture into Baghdad’s alleyways and riverfronts to sketch vernacular structures in order to appreciate their importance.[9] Such initiatives have contributed to a renewed interest in traditional practices as a means of building sustainable residences in harsh climatic conditions.

Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mashrabiya

19C Saudi Mashrabiya Screen.

Provenance: See Above.

Condition: Very good. Some minor wear to the top right corner but not significant.

Dimensions: 52″ Tall, 38.75″ Wide and 5″ Deep

PRICE Now: $1,750

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