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Article

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

Lebanese–American artist and writer. Daughter of a Greek Christian mother and a Syrian Muslim father, she was educated in Lebanon and at universities in France and the United States. For many years she taught the philosophy of art at Dominican College, San Rafael, CA. She also lectured and taught at many other colleges and universities until her retirement in the late 1970s. Also a novelist and poet, she combined Arabic calligraphy with modern language in her drawings, paintings, ceramics and tapestries. She explored the relationship between word and image in over 200 “artist books,” in which she transcribed in her own hand Arabic poetry from a variety of sources....

Article

Pamela Elizabeth Grimaud

French fashion designer, of Tunisian birth. Alaïa is renowned for his ‘second skin’ fashions and masterful cutting techniques (see fig.). Christened the ‘King of Cling’ by fashion journalists, Alaïa rose to prominence in the 1980s following years of realizing commissions for a loyal and select clientele. His designs are modern, overtly feminine in their celebration of the female form and, in Alaïa’s own words: ‘not sexy, voluptuous’. Alaïa’s sculpted fashions have been known to render other designers’ fashions unwearable—they simply feel too large in comparison....

Article

Egyptian, 20th – 21st century, female.

Active in the USA.

Born 1963, in Cairo.

Draughtswoman, embroiderer.

Ghada Amer grew up in Paris. She studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Nice before travelling to the USA where she attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. She lives and works in both New York and Paris. In 2005 she was Artist in Residence at Kansas City Art Institute....

Article

Chika Okeke-Agulu

American painter, sculptor, fibre and installation artist of Egyptian birth. Amer, one of the few young artists of African origin to gain prominence in the late 1990s international art scene, studied painting in France at the Villa Arson EPIAR, Nice (MFA, 1989), and the Institut des Hautes Etudes en Art Plastique, Paris (...

Article

Carpet  

Margaret Roberts and Jennifer Wearden

Originally a thick cover for a bed, table etc. From the 16th century the term included knotted carpets from the Middle East; it gradually became exclusively associated with knotted carpets placed on the floor. By the early 18th century other forms of fabric floor covering had assumed the same name. (...

Article

Sarah Scaturro

British fashion designer born in Turkish Cyprus. Chalayan won the British Fashion Award for Designer of the Year in 1999 and 2000. He is best known for his cerebral designs that reference architecture, geopolitics and technology, as well as exploring the theme of transformation.

Chalayan was educated in Cyprus before moving to London to attend Central St Martins College of Art and Design, where he graduated with honours in ...

Article

Ann Poulson

Greek fashion designer based in Paris. Dessès was born in Egypt to Greek parents and arrived in Paris in the 1920s to study law and diplomacy. By 1925 he had changed his mind and was employed as a designer for Maison Jane. He left Maison Jane to open his own couture house in ...

Article

Esna  

John Baines

Egyptian city c. 55 km south of Luxor on the Nile. Inhabited since ancient times, Esna remains important as the terminus of one of the main caravan routes between Egypt and the Sudan, and as a centre of textile production. The only ancient building to survive is part of the Greco-Roman Temple of Khnum, but Deir Manayus wa Shuhada (the ‘Monastery of the Martyrs’), a 4th-century ...

Article

Fustian  

Gordon Campbell

Coarse cloth made with a cotton weft and a flax warp, first made in Egypt in the 2nd century ad and then revived in England in the 18th century. From the 19th century the term has denoted a thick, twilled, cotton cloth with a short pile or nap, usually dyed an olive or leaden colour....

Article

Kilim  

Flat-woven covering or hanging, usually a weft-faced tapestry-woven rug, produced in the Islamic lands of western Central Asia, the Middle East, the Balkans and North Africa. These non-pile fabrics are often divided into groups known by such terms as jijim (cicim, djidjim, jimjim), ...

Article

Esin Atil

Ottoman illuminator. The greatest student of Şahkulu, Kara Memi developed a new naturalistic style that quickly spread to other court arts including textiles, rugs, ceramics and tiles and survived for many centuries. He is one of the few artists employed in the imperial Ottoman painting studio under Süleyman (...

Article

Robert S. Bianchi

Artificially preserved human and animal remains. Mummification was practised in Egypt from the Early Dynastic period (c. 2925–c. 2575 bc). It is believed that the development of mummification was stimulated by observation of the natural desiccation that occurred in bodies buried in shallow pits in the hot sand of the desert. Over time, the preservation of the body came to be regarded as a prerequisite for survival in the afterlife, and artificial methods of conservation evolved. These were applied both to humans and to animals, especially those interred in mass burials as part of certain religious cults. The practice of mummification continued into the Greco-Roman period (...

Article

Ottoman  

In furniture, an ottoman is a low upholstered seat without a back or arms, typically serving also as a box, with the seat hinged to form a lid; it was also called a Turkey sofa. The French term ottomane (or sultane or turquoise) denoted an oval sofa in which one end was raised. In textiles, ottoman was a heavy ribbed fabric made from silk and either cotton or wool....

Article

Iraqi architect, painter and designer. The grandson of the Iraqi prime minister Nuri el-Said (d 1958), he studied architecture in England at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge (1958–61), and attended Hammersmith College of Art and Design, London (1962–4). From the early 1960s he incorporated sentences and words in kufic and other scripts into his paintings. He designed the interior of the Central Mosque and the Islamic Cultural Centre in London (...

Article

Lourdes Font

French fashion designer ( see fig. ). In the late 20th century, few fashion designers could match Saint Laurent’s versatility, flawless sense of proportion and painterly gift for colour. From his six seasons as head designer at the house of Dior to his forty-year career at his own house, Saint Laurent safeguarded the standards of the Paris couture. Beginning in ...

Article

Irish, 20th – 21st century, female.

Born 1939, in India, to an Irish mother and an English father.

Painter (mixed media), tapestry maker, engraver.

Maria Simonds-Gooding's family returned from India in 1947 and settled in County Kerry. She studied at the National College of Art in Dublin, the Centre de Peinture in Brussels and at Bath Academy in Corsham, England. In ...

Article

Tent  

P. A. Andrews and Mark Dike DeLancey

Portable structure with a fabric covering sustained by or interacting with rigid supports. Because of their mobility, tents have been essential in providing shelter for the nomads of the Middle East and Central Asia, and have been attested since the earliest written and pictorial records. The same constructional principles have been adapted for court and army life by the rulers of these and neighbouring regions, including medieval Europe and India. At times they were realized with a magnificence and sense of display hard to imagine today. Cloth also came to be used for ...

Article

Tiraz  

Sheila S. Blair

Inscription band in Islamic textiles, or fabric with an inscription band added in a technique different from the ground weave. Derived from the Persian word for embroidery, the term originally designated any embroidered ornament. In the early Islamic period textiles were often decorated with inscriptions containing good wishes and the caliph’s name and titles, and these fabrics were made up into robes of honour worn by the caliph or bestowed by him as official gifts. Hence the word came to refer to inscription bands done in embroidery or any other technique and the fabrics or garments on which they were found. Tiraz also referred to the workshops in which these fabrics were made, a synecdoche for ...

Article

Monique Riccardi-Cubitt

French term used to describe artefacts made in Turkey, or in France by Turkish craftsmen, and by derivation the influence on French design of elements from the Byzantine Empire, the Saljuq Islamic period and the Ottoman Empire. Specific motifs, borrowed from the original Turkish carpets, included arabesques or stylized flowers and vegetal scrolls and decorative animal forms—also included within the generic term ‘grotesques’—from the Renaissance onwards. From the Middle Ages inventories and accounts record objects ...