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Article

Basilio Pavón Maldonado

Spanish term for a type of intricately joined wooden ceiling in which supplementary laths are interlaced into the rafters supporting the roof to form decorative geometric patterns (see fig.). Artesonado ceilings were popular in the Islamic architecture of North Africa and Spain from the 13th to the 15th century and were also used widely in Jewish and Christian architecture. They continued to be popular into the 16th century when they were effectively integrated with Renaissance motifs.

Artesonado ceilings developed from horizontal coffered ceilings, which were used in Spanish Islamic architecture as early as the 10th century ad (see Islamic art, §II, 5(iv)). The Umayyad caliph al-Hakam II (reg 961–76) ordered a carved and painted coffered ceiling for the Great Mosque of Córdoba (see Córdoba, §3, (i), (a)). It was suspended from the ceiling joists and tie-beams of the pitched roofs covering the aisles. The halls of ...

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.

Astrology developed into a scientific branch of learning in ancient Greece, but because of the opposition of the Church Fathers it was transmitted to early medieval Europe in only fragmentary form in technically unsophisticated textbooks and popular divinatory genres. Literary and scientific texts provided more general ideas about the nature and attributes of the planets which were influential on later iconography. The first significant astrological images appear in 11th-century illustrated astronomical texts (e.g. London, BL, Cotton MS. Tiberius BV), which were acquired and produced by monasteries to aid with time-keeping and the construction of the Christian calendar....

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 ad at the Abbasid capital of Samarraا in Iraq, where the walls of enormous mud-brick palaces were rendered with plaster, moulded or carved in three styles of relief decoration. Although two styles (A and B) preserve recognizable vegetal forms ultimately derived from Late Antique ornament, the third (C) or Bevelled style is far more abstract, and the traditional distinction between subject and ground has dissolved. The same style of decoration was also used at Samarraا for wooden furnishings, such as panels and doors and for other sculpted media, such as rock crystal.

The Bevelled style quickly became popular throughout the Abbasid realm: it is found, for example, at the ...

Article

Kilim  

[Arab. kilim, klim; Pers. gilim; Turk. 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), zilu (sileh, silé, zilé, sille) and verneh (verné), but these terms may represent various techniques or combinations including tapestry, compound-weaving, brocading and embroidery, or may have limited geographical currency. The divergence between terminology (whether in European or local languages) of the deduced techniques of manufacture (e.g. ‘sumak brocading’) and the observed description of structure (e.g. weft wrapping) has led to widespread confusion in nomenclature. Scholars and dealers have also divided these pieces into such regional groups as Turkish, Caucasian and Persian, and these have been further subdivided by locality or tribe.

Flat-woven fabrics were used for animal trappings (including saddle-bags and covers), sacks, floor coverings, furnishings (including tent fittings, door covers, blankets, and covers for bolsters, pillows and hearth cushions), as well as belts, shawls and funeral shrouds. Most were produced in nomadic or village settings on horizontal or vertical looms. The fabrics range from 2 to 5 m in length and from 1 to 2 m in width. Some are composed of two narrow strips woven in mirror image and sewn together lengthwise. In comparison to pile carpets, which have long been appreciated in the West (...

Article

Minbar  

[Arab.; Turk. minber]

Pulpit in a mosque, often made of wood or stone. The largest, indeed sometimes the only piece of furniture in a mosque, the minbar derived from the judge’s seat in pre-Islamic Arabia. The first minbar in Islam (c. ad 628–31) is reported to have been the wooden chair with two steps ordered for the mosque of Medina by the prophet Muhammad; from it he preached and led prayers. After Muhammad’s death in 632 it became customary for a new caliph to receive homage while seated on this minbar. The Umayyad caliph Mu‛awiya (reg 661–80) raised the Prophet’s minbar on a six-stepped platform in 670. As a sign of legitimate authority, minbars were used by the Umayyad caliphs (reg 661–750) and their governors as pulpits from which to make important announcements as well as for delivering the Friday sermon. It became customary for the name of the reigning sovereign to be mentioned in the sermon (Arab. ...

Article

John Sweetman and A. R. Gardner

[Hindoo, Indo-Saracenic]

Term used specifically in the 19th century to describe a Western style based on the architecture and decorative arts of the Muslim inhabitants (the Moors) of north-west Africa and (between 8th and 15th centuries) of southern Spain; it is often used imprecisely to include Arab and Indian influences. A similar revivalist style prevalent specifically in Spain around the same time is known as the Mudéjar revival. Although their rule in Spain finally ended in 1492, the Moors remained indispensably part of the European vision of the East. (See also Orientalism.)

In the Renaissance moreschi were bandlike patterns allied to grotesques. The Swiss Johann Heinrich Müntz, who visited Spain in 1748 and drew unspecified Moorish buildings, designed a Moorish garden building (1750; London, RIBA) that may have formed the basis for the Alhambra (destr.), one of a series of exotic buildings designed by William Chambers after 1758 for the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, near London. Further early interest was shown by the painter ...

Article

Gordon Campbell

Ornamental glass shade for an oil lamp, designed to be hung in a mosque. It is usually shaped like a vase, with a bulbous body, a flared neck, a flat base, and applied glass loops from which it was suspended. The form emerged in late 13th-century Syria, and many of the finest examples come from Syria and Egypt. From the 16th century mosque lamps were made in Europe (notably Venice) and exported to the Islamic world.

The inscriptions on mosque lamps generally mention the donor and include the opening lines of the ‘Verse of Light’ in the Qur'an (24.35), which likens God, the light of the heavens and the earth, to a glass lamp. Over a dozen mosque lamps from the three reigns of al-Nasir Muhammad (reg 1294–1340 with interruptions) represent the summit of 14th-century enamelled glass. A band of tall script at the neck with blue lettering on a gilded ground decorated with polychrome scrolls, leaves and buds contrasts with another band on the body inscribed with gold letters on a blue ground with scattered gold blossoms. At least 50 lamps inscribed with the Light Verse and the name of Hasan (...

Article

[Sa‛id, ‛Isam Sabaḥ al-]

(b Baghdad, Sept 7, 1938; d London, Dec 26, 1988).

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 (1976–7), and he was consultant to PPA Ltd of Canada for the Abdul Aziz University master plan in Jiddah (1977–8) and to TYPSA Ltd of Spain for the Imam Saud Islamic University master plan in Riyadh (1978–9). In Baghdad he designed the Aloussi Mosque (1982–8) and al-Aboud Mosque (1984). In addition to his paintings in oil and watercolour he worked with such materials as paleocrystal (a transparent material made of polyester resin) and enamel on aluminium. His ...

Article

Taracea  

Gordon Campbell

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 façon de Turquie imported from the East through the Crusades or the Silk route. In the accounts (1316) of Geoffroi de Fleuri, treasurer to King Philippe V of France, ‘11 cloths of Turkey’ were noted, and in 1471 the inventory of the château of Angers records a wooden spoon and a cushion ‘à la façon de Turquie’. In the 16th century Turkish textiles were highly prized, and Turkish craftsmen were employed in Paris to embroider cloth for ladies’ dresses: in ...

Article

Margaret Graves

Architectural opening to admit light and air that may be covered with a screen, grille, glass or shutters, or left without covering depending on the surrounding environment and climate. Windows in Islamic architecture frequently, although certainly not always, take the form of an Arches in Islamic architecture ; such arch forms come in a dizzying varieties of types.

The use of marble or alabaster window grilles was adopted by Islamic architects from the Byzantine building tradition (see Islamic art §II, 3, (ii) ), and has become a distinctive and often spectacular feature of Islamic architecture: for example, the stone window grilles of the Great Mosque of Damascus (705–15; see Damascus §3 ) and those in the Friday Mosque in Ahmadabad , India (1424). Wooden window grilles made up of pieces of turned wood arranged in intricate geometric patterns (Arab. mashrabiyya) became a characteristic of windows in many parts of the Islamic world, especially Egypt. Metal examples also exist, for example in the 15th-century madrasa and mausoleum of Amir Mahmud al-Ustadar in Cairo, although these tend to be less intricate. Panels of carved stucco were also used as ornate window grilles. Such stucco screens were carved away from the building site and then fitted to the window; they could consist of an outer unglazed screen and an inner layer containing colored glass, or of a single stucco panel ornately carved, such as those seen in the Mosque of Sunqur Sa‛di in Cairo (...