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Abbasid  

Robert Hillenbrand

Islamic dynasty that ruled from several capitals in Iraq between ad 749 and 1258. The Abbasids traced their descent from al-‛Abbas, the uncle of the Prophet Muhammad, and were thus able to claim a legitimacy that their predecessors had lacked (see Umayyad, §1). The Abbasids rose to power in north-east Iran by channelling disaffection with Umayyad rule, but they soon established their capitals in a more central location, founding ...

Article

Alamut  

Abbas Daneshvari

Mountainous valley in Iran, 35 km north-east of Qazvin, and the name of one of the fortresses that defended the valley. From 1090 to 1261 it was the main headquarters of the Nizari branch of the Isma‛ili Shi‛ites, a religious community organized on a military basis. Their rigid hierarchy, esoteric practices and use of terrorism encouraged the development of romantic tales about them. Reputed to use hashish, they became known in the West as ‘Assassins’ (Arab. ...

Article

Almohad  

Karl-Heinz Golzio

Islamic dynasty that ruled parts of north-west Africa and Spain from 1130 to 1269. Muhammad ibn Tumart (d 1130), a Masmuda Berber, preached a faith based on the Koran and the Sunna, stressing above all the oneness of God (Arab. tawḥīd), a doctrine from which the movement took the name al-Muwaḥḥidūn (‘believers in the oneness of God’). Ibn Tumart, who declared himself also as the infallible Mahdí, was able to unite disparate groups of Berbers and in ...

Article

Karl-Heinz Golzio

Islamic dynasty that ruled parts of the Sahara, Morocco, Algeria and Spain from 1056 to 1147. The Sanhaja Berber chief Yahya ibn Ibrahim, on returning from a pilgrimage to Mecca, founded a reform movement intended to strengthen orthodoxy among the Saharan Berbers, who were only superficially Islamisized, but according to many Arab historiographers they adhered to Kharijite doctrine. With the support of the Malikite jurist Ibn Yasin and the Lamtuna Berber chiefs Yahya ibn ‛Umar and his brother Abu Bakr, a fortress for a Muslim brotherhood (Arab. ...

Article

Amol  

Gordon Campbell

City in northern Iran, close to the Caspian Sea and, from the 11th century to the 13th, centre for the production of a distinctive white slip pottery with incised designs.

Article

Abbas Daneshvari

Iranian town in the province of Isfahan, just east of the road from Natanz to Na’in. It occupies an ancient site and preserves the ruins of a Sasanian fire-temple, but the most important monuments date from the medieval period, when Ardistan was a flourishing agricultural centre, renowned for its silk. By the 10th century the town was fortified and had five gates. Its congregational mosque, which now has a four-iwan plan, was first built during this period; a tunnel-vaulted arcade in the south-west corner with a fragmentary kufic inscription and polylobed piers can be attributed to the 10th century, when similar work was done on the Friday Mosque at Isfahan (...

Article

Artuqid  

Islamic dynasty that ruled in south-east Anatolia from 1098 to 1408. The Artuqids were descendants of a Turkoman military commander in the service of the Saljuq dynasty; his family settled in Diyarbakır and carved out two principalities, one in Diyarbakır and the other in Mardin and Mayyafariqin. The branch in Diyarbakır fell to the ...

Article

Sophie Page

Astrology is the art of predicting events on earth as well as human character and disposition from the movements of the planets and fixed stars. Medieval astrology encompassed both general concepts of celestial influence, and the technical art of making predictions with horoscopes, symbolic maps of the heavens at particular moments and places constructed from astronomical information. The scientific foundations of the art were developed in ancient Greece, largely lost in early medieval Europe and recovered by the Latin West from Arabic sources in the 12th and 13th centuries. Late medieval astrological images were successfully Christianized and were adapted to particular contexts, acquired local meanings and changed over time....

Article

Ayyubid  

Islamic dynasty that ruled 1169–1252 in Egypt, 1180s–1260 in Syria and south-east Anatolia, and 1174–1229 in the Yemen, with minor branches continuing until the end of the 15th century. The Ayyubids were the Kurdish clan brought to power in 1169 by Salah al-Din (Saladin; reg...

Article

Term used to describe the distinctive relief decoration commonly used on stucco, wood and other arts of the early Islamic period. Characterized by a slanted cut (Ger. Schrägeschnitt), the decoration usually consists of rhythmic and symmetrical repetitions of curved lines with spiral terminals. The style is first documented in the mid-9th century ...

Article

J. Marr and Christopher Tadgell

Fortress site in central Maharashtra, India, a key link in the chain of forts that once controlled the Deccan. The conical mountain of granite, rising over 180 m, was originally a Buddhist monastic site; some of its excavated shrines were incorporated into the earliest defences, which were probably created in the 9th century ...

Article

Fatimid  

Jonathan M. Bloom

Islamic dynasty that ruled in Ifriqiya (now Tunisia) from ad 909 to 972 and in Egypt from ad 969 to 1171. The Fatimids were Isma‛ili Shi‛ites who traced their ancestry back to Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad, via Isma‛il, the seventh Shi‛ite Imam. They believed that their rightful position as leaders of the Muslim community had been usurped by the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphs. The first Fatimid success was the toppling of the Aghlabid rulers of Ifriqiya in 909. The Fatimid leader ‛Ubayd Allah assumed the title of caliph and the regnal name al-Mahdi (...

Article

Robert Hillenbrand

Islamic dynasty that ruled in Afghanistan, Transoxiana, eastern Iran and northern India from ad 977 to 1186. The founder was Sebüktigin (d 997), a Turkish slave employed by the Samanid dynasty, who eventually defied their authority and set up his own principality with its capital at ...

Article

Ghurid  

R. Nath, Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

Dynasty that ruled portions of Afghanistan and north-west India c. 1030–1206. It originated in the Ghur region of Afghanistan; its first fully historical figure is ‛Izz al-Din, who paid tribute to Saljuq and Ghaznavid rulers. Ghaznavid power declined after the death of Mahmud (reg...

Article

Hafez K. Chehab

Castle in Jordan, south of Amman. Built in 1115 by King Baldwin I of Jerusalem (reg 1100–18) to menace the pilgrimage road to Mecca, the castle of Monreal surrendered to the Ayyubid ruler Salah al-Din (Saladin) in 1189. It was given to his brother al-Malik al-Adil (...

Article

Alan Borg

Crusader castle in Syria. It is generally considered to be the finest of all crusader castles, but this reputation is to some extent an accident of scholarship, for it remains the only such castle to have been thoroughly investigated and restored. This work was done by a French team, led by ...

Article

Islamic School, 12th century, male.

Active in Herat.

Engraver.

Masud ibn Ahmad was responsible for the design and creation of the famous bronze Bobrinski Bucket (named after the Russian collector who acquired it in 1885), on which he collaborated with the inlayer Muhammad ibn al-Wahid. Dated to ...

Article

Sheila R. Canby

Type of enamelled (Pers. mīnā'ī) ware made in Iran in the late 12th century and early 13th; dated mina'i wares range from 1186 to 1224. This overglaze ware, unique to Iran, was probably first made at Kashan. It is a fritware consisting of bowls, jugs, beakers, ewers, vases and bottles covered first with a transparent colourless or opaque turquoise glaze and then fired. Colours such as turquoise and cobalt blue were applied prior to the first firing, whereas black, red, white and gold were painted on to the cold glaze and fixed in a second firing. The result was a group of polychrome pots decorated in a style closely allied to that of book illustration. Indeed, several pieces contain scenes from the Shāhnāma (‘Book of kings’), and one large bowl (Washington, DC, Freer) shows an actual battle that took place in the 1220s....

Article

Basilio Pavón Maldonado

Spanish term used to describe the architecture and art of Islamic inspiration produced in the areas of the Iberian peninsula reconquered by Christians between 1085, when Alfonso VI of Castile-León (reg 1072–1109) seized Toledo from the Muslims, and the 16th century. The Castilian word derives from the Arabic ...

Article

Robert Hillenbrand

Turkish Islamic dynasty with branches that ruled in Iran, Iraq and Syria from 1038 to 1194 and in Anatolia from 1077 to 1307.

Arab dominion of the eastern Islamic world came to an end in ad 945 when the caliphs were forced to surrender their temporal authority to their army commanders, who belonged to the Persian Buyid family. Henceforth the caliphs preserved only the forms and not the substance of power. For the next century political control of this huge area passed to various dynasties, principally of Persian origin, among which the Buyid family was pre-eminent. One dynasty alone broke this mould: the Ghaznavids, who controlled Afghanistan, much of the Punjab and parts of eastern Iran. They had begun as Turkish military slaves but had assimilated Perso-Islamic ways. This Turkish hegemony became definitive under the Saljuqs, who dispossessed the Ghaznavids and Buyids alike, took over Baghdad in ...