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Article

Andrew Weiner

(b Beirut, 1925).

Lebanese painter and writer active in the USA. Daughter of a Greek Christian mother and a Syrian Muslim father, Adnan was educated in Lebanon before going on to study philosophy at the Sorbonne, Harvard, and the University of California, Berkeley. For many years she taught aesthetics at Dominican College, San Rafael, CA; she also lectured and taught at many other colleges and universities. During the 1970s Adnan regularly contributed editorials, essays, and cultural criticism to the Beirut-based publications Al-Safa and L’Orient-Le Jour. In 1978 she published the novel Sitt Marie Rose, which won considerable acclaim for its critical portrayal of cultural and social politics during the early years of the Lebanese Civil War. Adnan published numerous books of poetry, originating in her opposition to the American war in Vietnam and proceeding to encompass topics as diverse as the landscape of Northern California and the geopolitics of the Middle East. Her poetry served as the basis for numerous works of theater and contemporary classical music....

Article

Pamela Elizabeth Grimaud

(b Tunis, Feb 2, 1935).

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.

Born in southern Tunisia, Alaïa was raised by his maternal grandparents and at the age of 15 undertook the study of sculpture. Realizing soon after that sculpture was not his calling, and serendipitously passing a dressmaker’s window on his way to classes, he saw a sign for an assistant. He was hired for the task of finishing hems at five francs apiece. Alaïa rose quickly to become a favourite of Tunisian high society, copying for the local clientele the work of the great ...

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

(b Cairo, May 22, 1963).

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 (1991). She subsequently moved to New York. She is best known for her canvases in which paint and embroidery are combined to explore themes of love, desire, sexuality, and women’s identity in a patriarchal world. Amer’s use of Embroidery, historically regarded as a genteel female craft, to create images of women fulfilling their sexual desires without inhibition, recalls the provocations and strategies of 1970s Western feminist art. However, her work also reflects her alarm at the incremental curbing of women’s social and political freedoms in her native Egypt following the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, especially after the regime of Gamal Abdel Nasser ended in ...

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. (See also Rug.)

This is considered the quintessential carpet. Woven originally in Asia, such carpets were highly prized and later copied in many parts of Europe. The knots, tied in cut lengths of yarn, the ends of which formed the pile, were inserted during the process of construction, or weaving; they were tied in rows across the warps, each row of knots being separated by one, two, or three picks of weft, laid in as alternate rows of plain weave (see Textile, §II, 1). Hand-knotted carpets can be divided into several categories, according to the knot used; this is, consequently, a means of establishing a carpet’s provenance. There are four types of knot, each type known by several names. The first is the Turkish, Ghiordes, or ...

Article

Sarah Scaturro

[Çaglayan, Hüseyin]

(bNicosia, Aug 12, 1970).

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 1993 with a BA in fashion. His innovative final year collection titled ‘The Tangent Flows’ consisted of silk and cotton garments that had been covered in iron shavings and buried for six weeks in a garden. These garments, exhumed right before his show, had developed a rusty, earthy patina that commented on the beauty of decay by echoing the process of burial and rebirth. Soon afterwards, his collection was featured in the windows of the London store Browns.

Chalayan founded his eponymous line the next year with his first commercial collection ‘Cartesia’ for Autumn/Winter ...

Article

Ann Poulson

[Verginie, Jean Dimitre]

(b Alexandria, Aug 6, 1904; d Athens, Aug 2, 1970).

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 1937 at 37, Avenue George V, eventually moving to 17, Avenue Matignon. Dessès is best known for his silk chiffon evening gowns draped asymmetrically in a Neo-classical style.

Though Dessès was raised in Egypt, he considered Greece his native land and the influence of Greek antiquity is clearly seen in his signature draped evening gowns. In appearance they resembled garments represented in ancient sculpture, but in construction they were more closely allied to the moulded and heavily structured gowns of the 19th century, being mounted on corseted bodices and stiffened petticoats. Over this foundation he skilfully manouevered the fabric into pleats and twists, bunches and braids, occasionally releasing it into a flowing scarf. When Dessès used materials stiffer than his favourite silk chiffon, he would often incorporate similar techniques, using sunray pleating or knotting the material, sometimes gathering it at the hips to suggest paniers....

Article

Esna  

John Baines

[anc. Egyp. Ta-senet, Gr. Latopolis.]

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 ad Coptic foundation, lies 6 km to the south-west, and the Ottoman mosque of el-Amri in the town centre retains a brick-built minaret of the Fatimid period (ad 969–1171).

The Temple of Khnum, now reduced to its hypostyle hall, formed the core of a complex including a quay (in situ) and a processional approach (untraced); this was related to four further complexes (almost entirely lost) in the region. The earlier, inner part of the temple is represented by its front wall, which was incorporated into the hall and now forms its rear wall. It has carved relief decoration dating to the reigns of Ptolemy VI Philometor (...

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  

[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

Esin Atil

[Mehmed-i Siyah; Kara Mehmed Çelebi]

(fl 1545–66).

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 (reg 1520–66) whose name is recorded in archival documents and extant works. First mentioned on a payroll register dated 1545, Kara Memi rose quickly so that by the early 1550s his wages for Koran illumination were the highest given to any artist working on manuscripts commissioned by the Süleymaniye Mosque; by 1557–8 he was head painter (Ott. nakkaşbaşı). A librarian’s note on the flyleaf of a Koran manuscript transcribed by ‛Abdallah Sayrafi in 1344–5 and refurbished for the Ottoman grand vizier Rüstem Pasha in the mid-1550s (Istanbul, Topkapı Pal. Lib., E.H. 49) credits Kara Memi with the illumination, and he signed the illumination in a spectacular manuscript of the ...

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 (332 bcad 395) but was gradually abandoned with the advent of Christianity. (See also Egypt, ancient, §XIII.)

In humans, the fully developed mummification technique involved the removal of the brain and viscera, the latter being preserved separately in vessels known as ...

Article

Ottoman  

(furniture and textiles)

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

[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

Lourdes Font

[ Mathieu-Saint-Laurent, Yves Henri Donat ]

(b Oran, Algeria, Aug 1, 1936; d Paris, June 1, 2008).

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 1966, he and his partner Pierre Bergé also created an international network of ready-to-wear boutiques, launched fragrance, cosmetics and menswear subsidiaries and supervised the production of licensed products. The basis for Saint Laurent’s success was a talent nurtured by a deep knowledge of art and literature and a love for the theatre. He began his career as an innovator, able to synthesize the legacies of earlier couturiers while keeping a discerning eye on the contemporary street. In 1976, Saint Laurent demonstrated that, like Dior, he was capable of transforming the fashionable woman with a single collection. Having created a style of his own, Saint Laurent ended his career as the standard-bearer of French modern Classicism....

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 tipis (teepees) after the destruction of the American buffalo herds deprived the Plains Indians of the traditional material used for covering (see ). This article deals with tents in the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa: for information on Indian tents see Indian subcontinent §VIII 17.; for information on European tents and tension structures, particularly in the medieval period and in the 20th century, ...

Article

Tiraz  

Sheila S. Blair

[Arab. ṭirāz]

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 dār al-ṭirāz (‘factory for tiraz’). In later times the word tiraz was also used to refer to the long bands inscribed with the ruler’s name and titles that were written across the façades of major buildings, as at the ...

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 ...