City in the Desert, Revisited: Oleg Grabar at Qasr al-Hayr al-Sharqi, 1964-71
by Christiane Gruber and Michelle Al-Ferzly, with a foreword by Renata Holod
Between 1964 and 1971, renowned Islamic art historian Oleg Grabar directed a large-scale archaeological excavation at the site of Qasr al-Hayr al-Sharqi. Drawn to the remote 8th-century complex in the…View
The Umayyad Mosque of Damascus: Art, Faith and Empire in Early Islam by Alain George
The Umayyad Mosque of Damascus: Art, Faith and Empire in Early Islam by Alain George edited by Melanie Gibson The Great Mosque of Damascus is an iconic monument of world architecture, and the oldest…View
Antique Dealing and Creative Reuse in Cairo and Damascus 1850-1890: Intercultural Engagements with Architecture and Craft in the Age of Travel and Reform, by Mercedes Volait
The commodification of Islamic antiques intensified in the late Ottoman Empire, an age of domestic reform and increased European interference following the Tanzimat (reorganisation) of 1839. Mercedes Volait examines the social life of typical objects moving from Cairo and Damascus to Paris, London, and beyond, uncovers the range of agencies and subjectivities involved in the trade of architectural salvage and historic handicraft, and traces impacts on private interiors, through creative reuse and Revival design, in Egypt, Europe and America. By devoting attention to both local and global engagements with Middle Eastern tangible heritage, the present volume invites to look anew at Orientalism in art and interior design, the canon of Islamic architecture and the translocation of historic works of artVisit site
Elisabeth Fraser, Mediterranean Encounters: Artists Between Europe and the Ottoman Empire, 1774-1839, PSUP
Mediterranean Encounters: Artists Between Europe and the Ottoman Empire, 1774-1839 is now out in paperback.
(30% discount with promotion code NR21.)
The Queen of Sheba's Gift: A History of the True Balsam of Matarea, by Marcus Milwright
The death of the last balsam tree in the plantation of Matarea in 1615 marks the end of practice of specialised cultivation that can be traced back two millennia. This interdisciplinary book uses written sources, visual data, and archaeological material to reconstruct the fascinating history of the balsam tree from Jericho and En-Gedi to Egypt, while also establishing links with resin-producing trees from the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa. Chapters address the symbolic associations of balsam and the site of Matarea, the distribution of products from the tree through trade and diplomacy, and the applications of these products in medicine, ritual, and the domestic environment. These chapters allow for an exploration of the complex socio-cultural factors that contributed to the sense of value accorded to rare commodities.
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The Mobility of People and Things in the Early Modern Mediterranean The Art of Travel, Edited by Elisabeth A. Fraser
For centuries artists, diplomats, and merchants served as cultural intermediaries in the Mediterranean. Stationed in port cities and other entrepôts of the Mediterranean, these go-betweens forged intercultural connections even as they negotiated and sometimes promoted cultural misunderstandings. They also moved objects of all kinds across time and space. This volume considers how the mobility of art and material culture is intertwined with greater Mediterranean networks from 1580 to 1880. Contributors see the movement of people and objects as transformational, emphasizing the trajectory of objects over single points of origin, multiplicity over unity, and mutability over stasis.
Introduction: The Mobility of People and Things in the Early Modern Mediterranean: The Art of Travel - Elisabeth A. Fraser; 1 "From Scorching Spain and Freezing Muscovy": English Embroidery and Early Modern Mediterranean Trade - Sylvia Houghteling; 2 A Tale of Two Guns: Maritime Weaponry between France and Algiers - Meredith Martin and Gillian Weiss; 3 Furnishing the Taste for Coffee in Early Modern France - Julia Landweber; 4 Substitutes and Souvenirs: Reliving Polish Victory in "Turkish" Tents - Ashley Dimmig; 5 The Ottoman Costume Album as Mobile Object and Agent of Contact - Elisabeth Fraser; 6 Entangled Styles: Mediterranean Migration and Dress in Pre-Modern Algiers - Leyla Belkaïd-Neri; 7 The Art of Wandering: Alexander Svoboda and Photography in the Nineteenth-Century Mediterranean - Michèle HannooshBuy book
Fighting, Hunting, Impressing – Arms and Armour from the Islamic World 1500–1850, by Kjeld von Folsach, Curator Joachim Meyer and Curator Peter Wandel
The David Collection is happy to announce the publication of Fighting, Hunting, Impressing – Arms and Armour from the Islamic World 1500–1850, the book behind the exhibition of the same name, that will open at The David Collection in spring 2021 – Danish corona restrictions allowing – and run until autumn 2021 (check the museum’s website). The book and exhibition focus on the characteristics of Islamic arms and armour from 1500 to 1850, describing the role they played on the battlefield, in connection with hunting and as ornaments.
The vast majority of arms and armour was created for men, and the finest and most lavish specimens were not intended for either fighting or hunting but may be considered a kind of male jewellery and status symbols. Colossal amounts of technical skill and artistic creativity was put into the creation of these objects of beauty, all while retaining their utility as fully functional weapons.
The book’s introductory article examines the role played by fighting and arms and armour in the Koran, and how these relate to the rise and early spread of Islam.
Another article is about furusiyya, the chivalric code of the Islamic world. The concept covers both the practical education and moral edification that noble Islamic warriors of the time were expected to receive.
Arabic script plays a major role in the decoration of Islamic art in general. This also applies to arms and armour, and while many inscriptions come from the Koran, others may also reveal who made the weapons, when they were made and who owned them.
The history of collecting Islamic arms and armour, in the Islamic world and in the West, has many fascinating aspects that are also explored in this publication.
Finally, three articles provide broad insights into the three main contexts in which Islamic arms and armour were used: combat and war, princely hunts, and various ceremonies such as audiences and exchanges of gifts.
The large catalogue section presents and analyses a range of weapons, armour, helmets and shields. Originally created in an area extending from North Africa to India, these pieces have found their way into Danish collections from the seventeenth century onwards. Also included are a number of miniature paintings illustrating the various contexts in which arms and armour were used. An appendix contains translations of the objects’ numerous Arabic, Persian and Turkish inscriptions.
Many of the 151 items featured in the catalogue belong to the David Collection, but other museums and a private collector have also contributed extensively. All the works on display are beautifully reproduced in the book, supplemented by a large number of full-colour illustrations in the introductory articles.
About the authors
The book’s authors and editors are Director Kjeld von Folsach, Curator Joachim Meyer and Curator Peter Wandel – all three from the David Collection. The book also contains contributions by Professor Thomas Hoffmann, University of Copenhagen, and Will Kwiatkowski, an international scholar specialised in Islamic inscriptions.
English edition: ISBN 978-87-92596-10-9
Danish edition: ISBN 978-87-92596-28-4
Size: 296 pages, richly illustrated
Publisher: The David Collection in commission with Strandberg Publishing
Ceramics of Iran: Islamic Pottery in the Sarikhani Collection, by Oliver Watson with contributions by Moujan Matin and Will Kwiatkowski
The volume contains 242 pieces from the 8th to the 18th century CE, with introduction and commentaries by Oliver Watson, inscriptions transcribed and translated by Will Kwiatkowski, and transcription, new translation and commentary by Moujan Matin on two key mediaeval texts: the chapter on ceramic manufacture by Abu’l-Qasim Qashani (700/1301CE) and the chapter on recipes for lustre pigment by Jowhari Nishaburi from a manuscript of 592/1196CEBuy book
The 1720 Imperial Circumcision Celebrations in Istanbul: Festivity and Representation in the Early Eighteenth Century, by Sinem Erdoğan İşkorkutan
The 1720 Imperial Circumcision Celebrations in Istanbul offers the first holistic examination of an Ottoman public festival through an in-depth inquiry into different components of the 1720 event. Through a critical and combined analysis of the hitherto unknown archival sources along with the textual and pictorial narratives on the topic, the book vividly illustrates the festival’s organizational details and preparations, its complex rites (related to consumption, exchange, competition), and its representation in courtcommissioned illustrated festival books (sūrnāmes).To analyze all these phases in a holistic manner, the book employs an interdisciplinary approach by using the methodological tools of history, art history, and performance studies and thus, provides a new methodological and conceptual framework for the study of Ottoman celebrations.Visit site
Under the Skin: Feminist Art and Art Histories from the Middle East and North Africa Today, eds. Ceren Özpınar and Mary Kelly
Under the Skin explores how art responds to and shapes cultural attitudes towards gender and sexuality, ethnicity/race, religion, tradition, modernity and contemporaneity, and local and global politics. We hope that you like how it strives to strike a balance by connecting studies and scholars to stimulate different feminist and decolonial perspectives and debates on art and visual culture from the Middle East and North Africa.Buy book
From Granada to Berlin: the Alhambra Cupola, by Anna McSweeney
The new book by Dr Anna McSweeney – From Granada to Berlin: the Alhambra Cupola (Verlag Kettler, 2020) – tells the long history of the Alhambra palace through the prism of one of its most extraordinary survivors: the Alhambra cupola, a carved and painted 14th century ceiling which is now in the Museum for Islamic Art in Berlin.
Through a close examination of the cupola, it traces the long history of the Alhambra from medieval Granada to contemporary Berlin. It examines the methodology of object biography in relation to architectural fragments, while the loss of the cupola from Granada, its acquisition by the museum in Berlin and the complex reasons behind this loss remain central. Through a focused, chronological study with extensive new research on the object and the changing societies through which it moved, including many previously unpublished images, this book explores the material and cultural history of the cupola and offers a new perspective on the legacy of Islamic art in Europe and its continuing relevance today.More info
Muthanna/Mirror Writing in Islamic Calligraphy. History, Theory and Aesthetics by Esra Akın-Kıvanç
Muthanna, also known as mirror writing, is a compelling style of Islamic calligraphy composed of a source text and its mirror image placed symmetrically on a horizontal or vertical axis. This style elaborates on various scripts such as Kufic, naskh, and muhaqqaq through compositional arrangements, including doubling, superimposing, and stacking. Muthanna is found in diverse media, ranging from architecture, textiles, and tiles to paper, metalwork, and woodwork. Yet despite its centuries-old history and popularity in countries from Iran to Spain, scholarship on the form has remained limited and flawed. Muthanna / Mirror Writing in Islamic Calligraphy provides a comprehensive study of the text and its forms, beginning with an explanation of the visual principles and techniques used in its creation. Author Esra Akın-Kıvanç explores muthanna's relationship to similar forms of writing in Judaic and Christian contexts, as well as the specifically Islamic contexts within which symmetrically mirrored compositions reached full fruition, were assigned new meanings, and transformed into more complex visual forms. Throughout, Akın-Kıvanç imaginatively plays on the implicit relationship between subject and object in muthanna by examining the point of view of the artist, the viewer, and the work of art. In doing so, this study elaborates on the vital links between outward form and inner meaning in Islamic calligraphy.More info
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