Hisham’s balancing act: the case of Qasr al-Hayr al-Gharbi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This is a study of the sculpted and painted iconography at the late Umayyad palace of Qaṣr al-Ḥayr al-Gharbī, in Syria. Its links with classical and Byzantine and, to a lesser extent, Sasanian art will be analyzed, leading to a consideration of whether these diverse borrowings should be regarded as random or as the reflection of some underlying purpose. The essay will argue that these are not random borrowings but that they point to a consistently followed plan to keep a balance between “western” and “eastern” elements in the major categories of ornament, iconography, technique, and material. This suggests a sophisticated awareness of the potential of art as a means of expressing propagandist themes. Contemporary political developments provide a strikingly relevant context for this decoration.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPower, patronage and memory in early Islam
Subtitle of host publicationperspectives on Umayyad elites
EditorsAlain George , Andrew Marsham
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages51
ISBN (Electronic)9780190498955
ISBN (Print)9780190498931
Publication statusPublished - 8 Feb 2018


  • Umayyad palaces
  • Early Islamic painting
  • Early Islamic sculpture
  • Sasanian art
  • Byzantine art


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