The iconic minaret of Jam stands in a remote mountain valley in central Afghanistan, the finest surviving monument of the enigmatic 12th-century Ghurid dynasty. The re-discovery of the minaret half a century ago prompted renewed interest in the Ghurids, and this has intensified since their summer capital at Jam became Afghanistan’s first World Heritage site in 2002. Two seasons of archaeological fieldwork at Jam, the detailed analysis of satellite images and the innovative use of Google Earth as a cultural heritage management tool have resulted in a wealth of new information about known Ghurid sites, and the identification of hundreds of previously undocumented archaeological sites across Afghanistan. Thomas uses this data to generate a more nuanced understanding of this early Islamic polity and its sustainability, as well as exploring issues of Ghurid identity and ideology.
Sydney University Press, 2018.
Praised as one of the finest calligraphers of his time, Ruzbihan Muhammad al-Tab‘i al-Shirazi would have produced numerous Qur’ans during the course of his career, but only five signed by him have survived, of which the Chester Betty manuscript—produced in Shiraz—is surely his finest. Equally deserving of praise is the team of highly skilled, yet anonymous, artists responsible for the manuscript’s decorative programme, the combined quality, extent, diversity and complexity of which sets the manuscript apart from almost all others of its time. The manuscript is not dated, but work on it probably began about 1550.
The book is a detailed and comprehensive study of the manuscript with chapters on the writing of the text (including a discussion of problems encountered in the spacing of the text and omissions and errors made by the calligrapher), the reading and recitation of the text and the decoration of it. Much of the discussion is the result of close examination of the manuscript under high magnification, which often revealed surprising and previously unknown aspects of production. An essay on the pigments used in the manuscript, by Kristine Rose Beers, the Chester Beatty’s Senior Conservator, is also included.
Ad Ilissum/Paul Holberton Publishing, London
Hardback, 300 x 240 mm
320 pages, 430 colour illustrations
ISBN 978 1 912168 04 0
One of the largest and most important palatial houses of late 18th- and early 19th-century Damascus belonged to the Farhi family, who served as financial administrators to successive Ottoman governors in Damascus and Acre. The conversion of Bayt Farhi to a hotel provided a unique opportunity to make a detailed examination of its architecture, which is comparable to those of affluent Christians and Muslims, and decorated with high quality materials in the latest styles.
Lavishly illustrated with extensive color photographs, plans, and reconstruction drawings the book brings to life the home environment of the lost elite Sephardic community of Ottoman Damascus. It will be an essential resource for those studying the architecture, history, and culture of Syria and the Ottoman Empire. Co-published with Manar al-Athar, University of Oxford.
Annual of ASOR, 72
Manar al-Athar Monographs, 4
356 pages (255 col & 47 b/w illus.)
Introducing a new concept of urban space, Cities and Metaphors encourages a theoretical realignment of how the city is experienced, thought and discussed.
In the context of ‘Islamic city’ studies, relying on reasoning and rational thinking has reduced descriptive, vivid features of the urban space into a generic scientific framework. Phenomenological characteristics have consequently been ignored rather than integrated into theoretical components. The book argues that this results from a lack of appropriate conceptual vocabulary in our global body of scholarly literature. It challenges existing theories, introduces and applies the concept of Hezar-tu (‘a thousand insides’) to rethink the spaces in historic cores of Fez, Isfahan and Tunis. This tool constructs a staging post towards a different articulation of urban space based on spatial, physical, virtual, symbolic and social edges and thresholds; nodes of sociospatial relationships; zones of containment; state of intermediacy; and, thus, a logic of ambiguity rather than determinacy. Presenting alternative narrations of paths through sequential discovery of spaces, this book brings the sensual features of urban space into the focus.
The book finally shows that concepts derived from local contexts enable us to tailor our methods and theoretical structures to the idiosyncrasies of each city while retaining the global commonalities of all. Hence, in broader terms, it contributes to a growing awareness that urban studies should be more inclusive by bringing the diverse global contexts of cities into the body of our urban knowledge.
Cerámica entre dos mares, ed. Farzaneh Pirouz-Moussavi
Spanish and English
The historiography of early photography has scarcely examined Islamic countries in the Near and Middle East, although the new technique was adopted very quickly there by the 1840s. Which regional, local, and global aspects can be made evident? What role did autochthonous image and art traditions have, and which specific functions did photography meet since its introduction? This collective volume deals with examples from Iran, the Ottoman Empire, and the Arab lands and with the question of local specifics, or an „indigenous lens." The contributions broach the issues of regional histories of photography, local photographers, specific themes and practices, and historical collections in these countries. They offer, for the first time in book form, a cross-section through a developing field of the history of photography.
Series: Studies in Theory and History of Photography (Book 8)
Paperback: 374 pages
Publisher: De Gruyter (October 11, 2017)
The Nasrid builders of the Alhambra – the best-preserved medieval Muslim palatial city – were so exacting that some of their work could not be fully explained until the invention of fractal geometry. Their design principles have been obscured, however, by the loss of all archival material. This book resolves that impasse by investigating the neglected, interdisciplinary contexts of medieval poetics and optics and through comparative study of Islamic court ceremonials. This reframing enables the reconstruction of the underlying, integrated aesthetic, focusing on the harmonious interrelationship between diverse artistic media – architecture, poetry and textiles – in the experience of the beholder, resulting in a new understanding of the Alhambra.
Hardback, Spring 2018, 344 pages, 94 colour illustrations; ISBN 9781474416504
Edinburgh University Press (distributed by Oxford University Press in the Americas)
Today, the Victoria and Albert Museum holds extensive and renowned collections of Iranian art, spanning at least twelve centuries of Iran's sophisticated cultural history. These objects range from archaeological finds to architectural salvage, from domestic furnishings and drinking vessels to design archives. Most of this diverse material was purchased in the late nineteenth century, over a few decades - roughly between 1873 and 1893 - during a specific period of contact between Victorian Britain and Qajar Iran.
The book investigates that period through four case studies, showing how architects, diplomats, dealers, collectors and craftsmen engage with Iran's complex visual traditions, ancient and modern.
Hardback, 272 pages, ISBN 9781851779338
London, Bloomsbury, 2017
Hardcover Published: 01 December 2017
288 Pages | 50 colour, 20 black and white
In ʿAli Qoli Jebādār et l’Occidentalism safavide, Negar Habibi provides a fresh account of the life and works of ʿAli Qoli Jebādār, a leading painter of the late Safavid period. By collecting several of the artist's paintings and signatures, Habibi brings to light the diversity of ʿAli Qoli Jebādār's most important works. In addition, the volume offers us new insights into both the artistic and socio-political evolution of Iranian society in the last days of pre-modern Iran. By carefully consulting the historical sources, Negar Habibi demonstrates the possibility of a female and eunuch patronage in the seventeenth-century paintings known as farangi sāzi, while suggesting the use of the term "Occidentalism" for those Safavid paintings that show some exotic and alien details of the Western world.
Leiden and Boston, Brill, copyright 2018
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