The Arab hero Abdallah Ibn Jaafar and the Christian princess Yamina


Reverse paintings on glass are a common medium of popular culture. As Tunisia falls under French rule in 1881, they experience a brief heyday in Tunis and Sfax. The story of Abdallah and Princess Yamina is particularly popular. In 647, the first onslaught of Muslim Arabs reaches the Byzantine province of Africa. Near today's city of Sbeïtla, they score a decisive victory over the Eastern Roman commander-in-chief Gregorius. The event embeds itself deeply in the collective consciousness of the population, and at the time of the French Protectorate it is again unearthed. An image shows the Arab hero Abdallah ibn Jaafar and the Christian Princess Yamina fleeing on horseback. The pair save themselves from the Eastern Roman pursuers, as Abdallah miraculously carves out with his sabre a passage of escape through the mountains. Abdallah has kidnapped an infidel, conquered the enemy and wounded his dignity. In around 1900 this pictorial image is available everywhere between Tunis and Algiers as a reverse painting on glass, a coloured print and a postcard; a visual protest against the French colonial powers.

Object data

Inv. No.


Object Name

Reverse painting on glass


Rosina Prigl


ca. 1900

Accession Date





Glas, pigment, wood


H. 33 cm, W. 38.3 cm, D. 1.5 cm

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