Plaster carvings in Islamic cultures

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Decorative carved plaster work from Bou Inania Medersa, a medersa in Fez, Morocco.

The decoration of Mosques, palaces, and other important structures, with relief carving made in plaster is an Islamic tradition which is maintained into the present.

Much of the decorative relief carving seen on the Alhambra is carved plaster. Due to the excellent methods used by the Islamic artists and craftsmen, the work done in plaster remains in excellent condition.

...when they cased timber over with gypsum, they twisted Esparto cords round it, to bind the plaster; a practice still retained among the Spaniards of Granada, who find it of great advantage to the durability of their walls. The Arabs also appear to have driven nails into their walls to receive the plaster, which are to be seen in the Alhambra; but they put gypsum or plaster of Paris (but not lime,) in contact with the iron, which has thus been effectually prevented from corrosion.[1]


  1. The Practical mechanic and engineer's magazine, Volume 1 (1842), The Alhambra, p181