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Timelines of World Art: Middle East

1001

Master calligrapher Ibn al-Bawwab produces a richly ornamented copy of the Koran at the Baghdad court. Read more...

c. 1050–c. 1250

Saljuq rulers renovate the Friday Mosque (Masjid-i jum'a) at Isfahan and establish the architectural style used for future mosques in Iran. Read more...

1142

Krak des Chevaliers, one of the most successful and best-known Crusader castles, is built in Syria by the Knights Hospitaller. The walls of the structure are so imposing that it is only finally conquered in 1271 with a forged order to surrender. Read more...

c. 1169

Aleppo in Syria is famed for the skill of its woodworkers. One of the best examples, although no longer extant, is the minbar commissioned by Nur al-Din for the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Read more...

c. 1187

Potters in Kashan, Iran develop a unique type of ceramic ware in which a turquoise or cobalt glazes were applied and fired, followed by the addition of paintings in black, red, white or gold. The overall effect closely resembles illuminated manuscripts. Read more...

1228–1233

Under the Abbasid caliphate, Baghdad is an important centre for learning and book production. The Mustansiriyya Madrasa, the first college for all four schools of Sunni law, is built. Read more...

c. 1250

The Ilkhanid rulers of the western regions of the Mongolian empire live part of the year in great tents that recall their nomadic heritage but are also decorated with splendid silk panels that express their new wealth and prestige. Read more...

c. 1250–c. 1390

Metalworkers of Egypt and Syria produce some of the finest inlaid brass wares in Islamic history, some of gold and silver inlaid designs depict narrative scenes. Read more...

1275

The Mongol leader of Western Asia Ilkhan Abaqa constructs a magnificent summer palace on the site of a former Sasanian holy centre known as Takht-i Sulayman. An abundance of marble-carvings and lustre-glazed tiles indicate that the original structure was striking to behold and extremely costly to build. Read more...

c. 1314

The learned Grand Vizier Rashid al-Din writes the Jami` al-tawarikh ('Compendium of histories'), a history of the Mongol khans and lands that they conquered. These volumes are later richly illustrated. Read more...

c. 1330

The greatest example of Ilkhanid manuscript illumination is the Great Mongol Shahnama. This large folio takes the Persian Book of Kings and modifies it with adaptations of Chinese and European painting techniques to celebrate the might of the Mongol empire. Read more...

c. 1451–c. 1481

Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, known as 'the Conqueror', consolidates his control with an ambitious construction programme in his capital, Istanbul. He orders two palaces built and incorporates in their structure influences from various regions. Read more...

c. 1489

Bihzad, the most skilful and influential Persian painter, creates his only known signed work, a copy of Sa'di's Bustan. Bihzad is one of the talented artists and architects working in Herat at the conclusion of the Timurid period. Read more...

c. 1542

Continuing earlier traditions, the Safavid rulers call for large and finely made carpets, produced throughout Iran in royal workshops. Over 1500 Safavid carpets (and fragments) survive from this period, with many of them displaying complex designs that suggest the influence of book illustration. Read more...

c. 1555

Ottoman Sultan Süleyman I attaches a complex tughra or imperial monogram to all official documents. This highly decorative cipher combines his names, the names of his forebears and the descriptive phrase 'ever victorious' in a manner that is highly decorative and difficult to forge. Read more...

1587

Safavid Sultan `Abbas I instructs two court painters Sadiqi and Riza to create a version of the Shahnama (Book of Kings) at his capital is Isfahan. The large manuscript pages are ornamented in the margins with sumptuous drawings. Read more...

1597

Shah `Abbas, the greatest Safavid ruler and patron of the arts, moves his capital to Isfahan and subsequently commissions four monumental buildings that together represent the pillars of his rule: the royal family, Islam, trade and the military. Read more...


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