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Abbasid  

Robert Hillenbrand

[‛Abbasid]

Islamic dynasty that ruled from several capitals in Iraq between ad 749 and 1258. The Abbasids traced their descent from al-‛Abbas, the uncle of the Prophet Muhammad, and were thus able to claim a legitimacy that their predecessors had lacked (see Umayyad, §1). The Abbasids rose to power in north-east Iran by channelling disaffection with Umayyad rule, but they soon established their capitals in a more central location, founding Baghdad in 762. Although they initially encouraged the support of Shi‛ites, the Abbasids quickly distanced themselves from their erstwhile allies to become champions of orthodoxy. Upon accession, each caliph adopted an honorific title, somewhat like a regnal name, by which he was later known. For the first two centuries, the Abbasids’ power was pre-eminent, and their names were invoked from the Atlantic to western Central Asia. From the middle of the 10th century, however, real power was transferred to a succession of Persian and Turkish dynasts (...

Article

Jane Geddes

Deluxe manuscript (Aberdeen, U. Lib., MS. 24) made in England around 1200. It is remarkable for its lavish illustrations, amply covered in gold leaf; for the wealth of its codicological data and for its close relationship to the Ashmole Bestiary. The book was left unfinished, so sketches and the detailed instructions for its colouring and assembly remain visible. The last few pages were completed in the 14th century. The book begins with a Creation cycle of full-page miniatures culminating in Adam Naming the Animals and Christ in Majesty. A portrait or narrative illustration of each animal precedes every text description.

The manuscript contains the press mark of King Henry VIII’s library, mainly assembled after the dissolution of the monasteries, but its provenance before 1542 is not known. Muratova (1986, pp. 118–144) uses cumulative information from a group of related manuscripts to suggest a provenance in the north-east Midlands; Geddes (...

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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Article

Italian, 13th century, male.

Active during the 13th century.

Miniaturist.

Sienese School.

This artist's name appears in archives in 1248.

Article

Italian, 13th century, male.

Activec.1295.

Born in Brescia.

Painter, draughtsman, architect.

Article

German, 13th century, male.

Active in Bamberg (Bavaria).

Miniaturist.

A deacon, Adalbert is thought to have painted the miniatures in a work on the Life of Henry and Cunegonde (Royal Library, Bamberg). He was the son of Count Wolfram von Abensberg.

Bamberg (Staatsbibliothek): Life of Henry and Cunegonde,...

Article

German, 13th – 14th century, female.

Miniaturist, calligrapher.

Adelaide von Epfig was a nun at the convent of Unterlinden in Alsace, France, where she produced several outstanding works.

Article

Italian, 13th – 14th century, male.

Sculptor.

Agnolo di Ventura was a pupil of the Pisani School. He collaborated with Guido di Pace on the construction of the Grosseto palace, and on a number of works with Agostino di Giovanni. After 1349 his name no longer appears....

Article

Italian, 13th century, male.

Active in Naples.

Sculptor (stone/wood).

This artist is mentioned in about 1230.

Article

Italian, 13th – 14th century, male.

Born in Siena; died 1350.

Sculptor. Religious subjects. Statues, monuments.

Sienese School.

Agostino di Giovanni was a product of the Pisani School. He married in 1310 and had two sons, Giovanni and Domenico, who were chosen as 'capomaestri' for the construction of Siena Cathedral. He often worked with the former....

Article

Italian, 13th century, male.

Painter.

Bassano School.

This artist is mentioned as being in Bassano on 23 November 1290.

Article

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 ...

Article

Whitney S. Stoddard

[Lat. aquae mortuae: ‘dead waters’]

Town in Gard, southern France, in the north-western section of the Rhône Delta or Camargue. It is one of the largest surviving medieval fortified towns. Although documents show that there was a port on the site of Aigues-Mortes in the late 12th century and first third of the 13th, the town was officially not founded until the Charter of 1246, which exempted inhabitants from taxes. Louis IX (reg 1226–70) conceived of the walled city. He wanted a port to establish a royal presence in, and access to, the Mediterranean, and he needed a fortified town to protect crusaders, pilgrims and merchants, providing a safe haven from which to launch crusades, as well as a commercial centre for trade between the Levant and northern France. The only land available for this purpose lay between that owned by the bishop of Maguelonne and king of Aragon (which included the region around Montpellier) on the west, and Provence controlled by Emperor Frederick II on the east. Negotiations with the Benedictine monks of Psalmodi for the acquisition of land for the walled city began in ...

Article

Italian, 13th century, male.

Active in Genoa.

Painter.

Genoese School.

In 1261 this artist took into his studio as an apprentice a certain Tealdino di Rubaldo from Chiavari. He is probably the same painter as the Aimerio referred to in 1280 in Vercelli.

Article

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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Article

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....

Article

Alain  

French, 13th century, male.

Sculptor.

This artist is mentioned in a document of 1292 as being in Paris.

Article

Alamut  

Abbas Daneshvari

[Alamūt]

Mountainous valley in Iran, 35 km north-east of Qazvin, and the name of one of the fortresses that defended the valley. From 1090 to 1261 it was the main headquarters of the Nizari branch of the Isma‛ili Shi‛ites, a religious community organized on a military basis. Their rigid hierarchy, esoteric practices and use of terrorism encouraged the development of romantic tales about them. Reputed to use hashish, they became known in the West as ‘Assassins’ (Arab. hashhīshiyyīn). Like all Isma‛ili fortresses, Alamut is strategically located on rocky heights and has an elaborate storage system for water and provisions so that the fortress was never taken by force. It consists of two parts: a higher and larger western fort and an eastern one.

Enc. Iran. F. Stark: The Valley of the Assassins (London, 1934) W. Ivanow: Alamut and Lamasar (Tehran, 1950) P. Willey: The Castles of the Assassins (London, 1963)...