This door handle comes from the Ulu Jami, the main mosque in Cizre. Between the necks of the dragons there was originally a spike with a lion’s head, as seen on the door’s other handle, which is now in Istanbul. This piece has been newly restored and has a golden shine, while the door handle in the David Collection has retained its 800-year-old patina.
The mechanical genius al-Jazari installed similar door handles in the palace in nearby Diyarbakir, and paired dragons are often found on doors, over gateways, and engraved on utility ware in the province of Jazira – even on an Artuqid coin from Diyarbakir.
Unlike their Persian and European counterparts, Chinese and Turkish dragons are generally positive symbols, and the beautiful door handle was undoubtedly intended to ward off evil.
Inv. no. 38/1973
André Leth: Davids Samling. Islamisk kunst = The David Collection. Islamic Art, København 1975, p. 69;
The arts of Islam : Hayward gallery, 8 April - 4 July 1976, London 1976, cat.no. 194, p. 178;
Kjeld von Folsach: Davids Samling gennem 24 år, 1962-1985 = The David Collection: a 24-year period: 1962-1985, København 1985, pp. 56-57;
Art from the World of Islam. 8th-18th century, Louisiana, Humlebæk 1987, cat.no. 90;
Kjeld von Folsach: Islamic art. The David Collection, Copenhagen 1990, cat.no. 323;
Kjeld von Folsach: Fabelvæsner fra Islams Verden, Davids Samling, København 1991, cat.no. 32;
Kjeld von Folsach and Anne-Marie Keblow Bernsted: Woven Treasures: Textiles from the World of Islam, The David Collection, Copenhagen 1993, fig. 10, p. 49;
Kjeld von Folsach, Torben Lundbæk and Peder Mortensen (eds.): Sultan, Shah and Great Mughal: the history and culture of the Islamic world, The National Museum, Copenhagen 1996, cat.no. 362;
Kjeld von Folsach: Art from the World of Islam in The David Collection, Copenhagen 2001, cat.no. 496;
Almut v. Gladiss (ed.): Die Dschazira: Kulturlandschaft zwischen Euphrat und Tigris, Museum für Islamische Kunst, Berlin 2006, cat.no. 25, pp. 68-69;
Joachim Gierlichs: “Neglected research topics: some remarks” in Barbara Kellner-Heinkele, Joachim Gierlichs, and Brigitte Heuers (eds.): Islamic art and architecture in the European periphery : Crimea, Caucasus, and the Volga-Ural region, Wiesbaden 2008, p. 26 ( no photo);
Marthe Bernus Taylor [et al.]: L'etrange et le merveilleux en terres d'Islam, Paris, Réunion des Musées Nationaux, Paris 2001, cat.no. 161, pp. 232-234;
Joachim Meyer and Peter Northover: “A newly acquired Islamic lion door knocker in the David Collection” in Journal of the David Collection, 1, 2003, p. 54, fig. 8;
Alfried Wieczorek, Mamoun Fansa, Harald Meller (eds.): Saladin und die Kreuzfahrer, Landesmuseum für Vorgeschichte, Halle, Mainz 2005, cat.no. B.15;
Abbas Daneshvari: Of serpents and dragons in Islamic art: an iconographical study, Costa Mesa 2011, pp. 93-95, pl. 53;
Joachim Gierlichs: “The Berlin dragon door-knocker in its scientific and historical context” in Lorenz Korn and Martinas Muller-Wiener (eds.): Central Periphery? : Art, Culture and History of the Medieval Jazira (Northern Mesopotamia, 8th-15th centuries), Wiesbaden 2017, figs. 2, 4, pp. 273-274 (wrong acc.no.);