The centers of the Byzantine wooden workmanship which is not widely known are Istanbul, Antakya and Iskenderiye.
Today, there are very few examples left by the masters trained in these centers.
The wooden workmanship is one of the field of the Byzantine art which is not thoroughly studied. The wood suitable to be treated was engraved and orna-mented with decorative motifs and theye were used as furniture in the houses of rich people and as small objects in the other ones. There were artisans dealing with carpentry nearly everywhere in the empire but the artisans of wooden carving were trained in the centers such as the capital Konstantinopolis (Istanbul), Antiochia (Antakya) and Aleksandria (Iskenderiye). It’s observed that the carving becomes an industry in these centers. We know that the artists were using tools such as adze, saw, chisel, drill and axe. Unfortunately today, there a few examples left from these wooden pieces of work. Certainly, the reason of this fact is that the wood is a material very sensible to the outside effects such as fire and humidity.
The piece of work in Berlin
A wonderful wooden plastic piece of work presumed to be created by the Byzantine Christian masters dwelled in Egypt is exhibited in the Berlin Museum. This wooden piece of work which is the oldest wooden plastic still remaining today is dated to the 4. century by the famous Art Historian Josei Strzygowski who had presented the piece of work to the scientific world. It describes a Byzantine castle besieged by the Barbarians and the rescue of the castle by the Byzantine legionnaire soldiers. Although there is the possibility that these figures may represent a real historical event, Strzygowsk brings different symbolic interpretations to the facts and persons.
Examples from Anatolia
H.Rott who had made studies in the Southern Anatolia with German team at the beginning of XX Century had photographel the wooden joist on the narthex door of the Kesik Minare (Korkut Cumanun) Mosque which is in ruins today. This piece is lost since a long time. The ornament on this piece seeming belonging to the southern one among the doors permitting entry from the narthex to the main place is not a relief but it’s worked by carving on the wood. The small crosses in the medals, the antithetique griffons, the biros drinking water from a cup (refrigerium) and the leaves are placed in turn. Another example of the wooden carved pieces in Anatolia is in the Konya Museum and it’s supposed that it belongs to one of the Binbirkilise (One thousand churches) buildings at the side of Karadag in the same region. These three pieces are the door wing. The over part of it, is filled by the geometric shapes, lines creating an illusion and zigzags. As figures, just a fish and motifs like leaves are seen. Although these wooden pieces are not as artistic as the other ones. They are important because they reflect the regional features and the taste and the artistic creation of the Anatolian artisans.