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Article

Sheila S. Blair

[Abu Ṭāhir]

Persian family of potters. The family is sometimes known, somewhat improperly, by the epithet Kashani [al-Kashani, Qashani], which refers to their home town, Kashan. It was a major centre for the production of lustre pottery in medieval Iran, and they were among the leading potters there, working in both the Monumental and the Miniature styles (see Islamic art, §V, 3(iii)). As well as the lustre tiles for many Shi‛ite shrines at Qum, Mashhad, Najaf and elsewhere, they made enamelled and lustred vessels. Three other families of Persian lustre potters are known, but none had such a long period of production. At least four generations of the Abu Tahir family are known from signatures on vessels and tiles, including dados, large mihrabs and grave covers. The family may be traced to Abu Tahir ibn Abi Husayn, who signed an enamelled bowl (Cairo, Mus. Islam. A.). A lustre bowl in the Monumental style (London, N.D. Khalili priv. col.), signed by ...

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Syrian, 13th century, male.

Metal worker.

Ahmad ibn Umar al Dhaki is thought to have come from Mosul, and had a famous workshop and numerous apprentices. Three leather objects, one in Cleveland Museum, one at the Louvre and one in a private collection in Switzerland, are signed by him and dated between ...

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Nabil Saidi

[ Jamāl al-Dīn ibn ‛Abdallah al-Mawṣulī Yāqūt al-Musta‛ṣimī ]

(d Baghdad, 1298).

Ottoman calligrapher. Yaqut served as secretary to the last Abbasid caliph, al-Musta‛sim (reg 1242–58), and reportedly survived the sacking of Baghdad by the Mongols in 1258 by seeking refuge in a minaret. He perfected the ‘proportioned script’ developed by Ibn Muqla and refined by Ibn al-Bawwab , in which letters were measured in terms of dots, circles and semicircles ( see Islamic art, §III, 2(iii) ). By replacing the straight-cut nib of the reed pen with an obliquely cut one, Yaqut created a more elegant hand. A master of the classical scripts known as the Six Pens (thuluth, naskh, muḥaqqaq, rayḥān, tawqī‛ and riqā‛), he earned the epithets ‘sultan’, ‘cynosure’ and ‘qibla’ of calligraphers. He is said to have copied two manuscripts of the Koran each month, but surviving examples are rare (e.g. 1294; Istanbul, Topkapı Pal. Lib., E.H. 74). Despite their small size, a typical folio has 16 lines of delicate ...

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Persian School, 13th century, male.

Active at the beginning of the 13th century.

Born probably, in Wasit.

Painter.

Yahya ibn Mahmud al-Wasiti was a painter and calligrapher. He provided illustrations for a manuscript of al-Hariri’s Assemblies ( Maqamat) dated 1237 and now in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. The stylistic discrepancies between the different miniatures that appear in this manuscript make it difficult to discern the originality of al-Wasiti....

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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....

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In the 20th century, discussion of the relationship between Byzantine art and the art of the Latin West evolved in tandem with scholarship on Byzantine art itself. Identified as the religious imagery and visual and material culture of the Greek Orthodox Empire based at Constantinople between ad 330 and 1453, studies of Byzantine art often encompassed Post-Byzantine art and that of culturally allied states such as Armenian Cilicia, Macedonia, and portions of Italy. As such fields as Palaiologan family manuscripts and wall paintings, Armenian manuscripts, and Crusader manuscripts and icons emerged, scholars identified new intersections between Western medieval and Byzantine art. Subtle comparisons emerged with the recognition that Byzantine art was not static but changed over time in style and meaning, although most analyses identified Byzantine art as an accessible reservoir of the naturalistic, classicizing styles of antiquity. Scholars considering the 7th-century frescoes at S Maria Antiqua and mosaics at S Maria in Cosmedin, both in Rome, and the 8th-century frescoes at Castelseprio and Carolingian manuscripts such as the Coronation Gospels of Charlemagne (Vienna, Schatzkam. SCHK XIII) used formal comparisons with works such as pre-iconoclastic icons at St Catherine’s Monastery on Sinai, along with the history of Byzantine iconoclasm, to argue for the presence of Greek painters in the West. Similarly, Ottonian and Romanesque painting and luxury arts, such as ivories, provided examples of the appropriation of Byzantine imperial imagery. Yet the study of works such as the great 12th-century ...

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Alison Manges Nogueira

Monumental, marble paschal Candlestick of the late 12th to early 13th century with reliefs signed by Nicolaus de Angelo and Vassallettus now in S Paolo fuori le Mura, Rome. The imposing column (h. 5.6 m), adorned with six registers of reliefs and surmounted by a fluted candle holder, rests upon a base of sculpted lions, sphinxes, rams and female figures. The upper and lower reliefs bear vegetal and ornamental patterns while the three central registers portray Christ before Caiaphas, the Mocking of Christ, Christ before Pilate, Pilate Washing his Hands, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection and the Ascension. The culminating Easter scenes reflect the paschal candle’s function during the Easter season as a symbol of Christ resurrected, as evoked in an inscription on the base. A second fragmentary inscription refers to the unidentifiable patron’s desire for commemoration. A third inscription identifies Nicolaus de Angelo as the master sculptor and Petrus Vassallettus as playing a secondary role. Both were active in the second half of the 12th to the early 13th century and came from leading families of Roman sculptors: the Vassalletti and Cosmati (Nicolaus’s family). The candlestick is the only work signed by and securely attributed to Nicolaus and the scope of his contribution remains uncertain. A plausible theory attributes the base and first register to Petrus, based upon similarities to works signed by him and ascribed to his family, such as the cloister of S Giovanni in Laterano in Rome and the narthex of S Lorenzo fuori le Mura in Rome. Nicolaus probably executed the Christological scenes, distinguishable for their more dynamic, expressive figures and decorative chisel work, and appropriate for the master sculptor because of their centrality and significance. Early Christian sarcophagi and Carolingian ivories may have provided models for the figural types. This form of paschal candlestick was probably inspired by Roman columnar monuments carved with triumphal scenes....

Article

Katrin Kogman-Appel

Hebrew Bible (Jerusalem, National.. Library of Israel., MS. Heb 4°790, and a single page in Toledo, El Transito Synagogue and Sephardic Museum), copied c. 1260, perhaps in Toledo by Menachem ben Abraham ibn Malikh for Isaac bar Abraham Hadad, both members of known and documented Toledan families. At some later stage further decorations were added, apparently in Burgos. The Damascus Keter is an outstanding exemplar out of approximately 120 decorated Bibles from Iberia and belongs to a group of three very similar codices from the middle of the 13th century, produced in Toledo. It thus represents a rich tradition of Jewish art flourishing between the 13th and the 15th centuries. These Bibles were used either by scholars for private study, or for biblical readings during synagogue services.

Typical of numerous Bibles from the Middle East and the Iberian Peninsula, the decoration consists of numerous carpet pages executed in Micrography and enriched by painted embellishments. This is a technique typically used in Hebrew decorated books and harks back to Middle Eastern manuscripts of the 10th century. Apart from the carpet pages, the Damascus ...

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Egyptian, 13th century, male.

Active in Cairo at the end of the 13th century.

Miniaturist.

Ibn Daya was a chancellor to the Sultan Mameluk Baybar and painted several pictures representing the Pilgrimage to Mecca.

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Turkish, 13th century, male.

Active in Melitene (now Malatya on the River Euphrates).

Miniaturist.

A work by this artist, who was a deacon, can be found in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris.

Article

Michael Curschmann

The medieval term mappa mundi (also forma mundi, historia/istoire) covers a broad array of maps of the world of which roughly 1100 survive. These have resisted systematic classification, but the clearly dominant type is one that aims at comprehensively symbolistic representation. Its early, schematic form is a disc composed of three continents surrounded and separated from one another by water (“T-O Map”) and associated with the three sons of Noah: Asia (Shem) occupies all of the upper half, Europe (Japhet) to the left and Africa (Ham) to the right share the lower half. Quadripartite cartographic schemes included the antipodes as a fourth continent, but the tripartite model was adopted by the large majority of the more developed world maps in use from the 11th century on and—with important variations—well into the Renaissance. While details were added as available space permitted, the Mediterranean continued to serve as the vertical axis and, with diminishing clarity, the rivers Don and Nile as the horizontal one. The map also continues to be ‘oriented’ towards Asia, where paradise sits at the very top. A circular ocean forms the perimeter and not infrequently the city of Jerusalem constitutes its centre....

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Article

Nonna S. Stepanyan

[Toros Roslin]

(fl 1256–68).

Armenian illuminator. He worked in the kingdom of Cilicia at Hṙomklay, the seat of the Armenian patriarchate. His patrons were King Het‘um I of Lambron (reg 1226–69) and the Katholikos Constantine I (reg 1221–67), whose scriptorium he apparently headed. His richly decorated manuscripts reflect Byzantine, Western and even Chinese models. There are seven known signed manuscripts by T‘oros Ṙoslin: the Gospels of Zeyt‘oun (1256; Istanbul, Armen. Patriarch., Treasury), the Gospels of 1260 (Jerusalem, Armen. Patriarch., MS. 251), a set of Gospels of 1262 (Baltimore, MD, Walters A.G., MS. 539), a further set of 1262, a set of 1265, a prayer-book of 1266 (all Jerusalem, Armen. Patriarch., MSS 2660, 1956 and 2027) and the Gospels of 1268 (Erevan, Matenadaran Inst. Anc. Armen. MSS, MS. 10675).

Although T‘oros Ṙoslin worked within the Cilician school of manuscript illumination, his choice of ornament for the initial letters, margins of the text, headpieces, canon tables and figural scenes was more eclectic. His compositions show a careful observation of contemporary life, for although the main figures are frequently shown in classicizing draperies, the other figures are in contemporary clothing; their faces and gestures are all expressive and carefully executed. He was able to present a religious story in a realistic and dramatic manner without impairing its primary didactic function, as in the ...

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[Abū Zayd ibn Muḥammad ibn Abī Zayd]

(fl Kashan, 1186–1219).

Persian potter. At least 15 tiles and vessels signed by Abu Zayd are known, more signed works than are known for any other medieval Iranian potter (see fig.). He frequently added the phrase ‘in his own hand’ (bi-khāṭṭihi) after his name, so that it has been misread as Abu Zayd-i Bazi or Abu Rufaza. His earliest piece is an enamelled (Pers. mīnā’ī) bowl dated 4 Muharram 583 (26 March 1186; New York, Met.), but he is best known for his lustrewares. A fragment of a vase dated 1191 (ex-Bahrami priv. col., see Watson, pl. 53) is in the Miniature style, but most of his later pieces, such as a bowl dated 1202 (Tehran, priv. col., see Bahrami, pl. 16a) and a dish dated 1219 (The Hague, Gemeentemus.), are in the Kashan style, which he is credited with developing (see Islamic art, §V, 3(iii)...