Pathans, Northern Pakistan, Hindu Kush Mountains, Swat Valley: A cedar 'prayer board', from the upper Swat Valley. Very rare.
The "prayer rug" is known from all Islamic cultures of the Orient. On these knotted textiles, which are based on the outline of a "prayer niche" ("mihrab"), the Muslim prayers are performed in the direction of Mecca at the five prayer times throughout the day. The Hindu Kush mountains of northern Pakistan are densely covered with vast forests of Himalayan cedars. The Pathans, as the large Afghan ethnic group known as the Pashtuns in Pakistan, live in the valleys of the Hindu Kush. Until a few years ago, the culture of the Pathans in the upper Swat valley in the Hindu Kush mountains was decidedly a “culture of wood”. Mosques, houses and their supply of boxes, chests, beds and everything including the smallest spoon were made from Himalayan cedar. Therefore, in this "wooden culture" of the Hindu Kush Pathans, the cloth "prayer carpet" became the "prayer board" made of cedar wood. It is carved in the shape of a "prayer niche" ("mihrab"). Outside of the five Islamic prayer times, the "prayer board" stands upright on the living room wall. During prayer times, the board is taken and placed on the ground facing Mecca. Then pray on it and then put it back on the wall. The present, old 'prayer board' stands on four short, round legs which are mortised to the horizontal boards of the upper part. The flat, upper part of the prayer is decorated with a surrounding border of carved tendrils of flowers and leaves. According to the given shape of the prayer niche, the board tapers towards the top (or at the front, depending on whether the board is standing or lying) and ends there with a large, round "headboard". All carved from a single piece of cedar wood and intricately carved with bands of floral and leafy tendrils in relief. A rare object with a very good, old and partly shiny patina, especially at the place where praying worshipers touched the "prayer board" with their heads for many years. No significant damage.
Length: 134cm; Width: 50cm; Height: 13cm
between c. 1900 and the first third of the 20th century.
*Due to photography and handwork, color variations may occur.