Cairo Minbar Door Silkscreen Print Series

This Cairo Minbar Door silkscreen print series includes three sets of two 22″ x 22″ prints. We started with the basic print in black on white. Then we additional hand water-colored the second set in black, yellow, ochre, and brown. Finally, we hand water-colored the third set in black, yellow, ochre, brown, and gold.

Source for this pattern: A minbar door in ebony, Aleppo pine, and abura wood with added ivory or bone. The door comes from Cairo, Egypt. It dates from the 14th-15th centuries, with later additions. Photographed at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, July 2019.

In this series, our aim was to experiment with using watercolor added to silkscreen printing for the sake of producing multi-colored variations of a single print. We chose to highlight a portion of the door panel for dramatic effect.

Islamic Woodwork

A minbar is a pulpit in a mosque where the imam (prayer leader) stands or sits to deliver sermons. It is usually shaped like a small tower with a pointed roof and stairs leading up to i. An entrance door or portal usually leads to the steps.

Woodwork was the primary medium for the construction of minbars in much of the Middle East and North Africa up until the Ottoman period. These wooden minbars were often intricately decorated with geometric patterns. Other types of decoration included carved arabesques (vegetal and floral motifs) and Arabic calligraphic inscriptions. In many cases they also featured delicate inlay work with ivory or mother-of-pearl. Many workshops created minbars that were assembled from hundreds of pieces held together using an interlocking technique and wooden pegs, without the use of glue or metal nails.