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Article

D. T. Potts, J. Schmidt, Paolo M. Costa, and Alessandro De Maigret

Region in which diverse cultures and civilizations flourished from c. 4500 bc to the rise of Islam in the early 7th century ac. Throughout history the term Arabia has varied according to changing political and cultural conditions. In this article it denotes the Arabian peninsula as far north as the borders of Jordan and Iraq. For regions north of this modern boundary see Syria-Palestine and Mesopotamia.

A supraregional survey is not always possible for the art forms discussed below, either because of distinct regional diversity or because archaeological excavation is more advanced in some parts of the peninsula than in others. In some cases, therefore, this article simply discusses those works of art and architecture that are most noteworthy, either stylistically, technologically or iconographically. Generally, the earliest material considered dates to the latter part of the late prehistoric period, c. 4500–c. 3400 bc. Thereafter there is a range of sites and finds that span the protohistoric (...

Article

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

(b. Tehran, 1934).

Iranian sculptor. Trained at the College of Decorative Arts, Tehran, he held his first solo exhibition at the Iran-India Center, Tehran in 1964. Inspired by Achaemenid and Assyrian art as well as by Babylonian carvings and inscriptions, Arabshahi has been associated with Hussein Zenderoudi, Parviz Tanavoli, and the Saqqakhana movement. His work has been shown in Iran, Europe, and the United States. Among his major commissions are sculptures and architectural reliefs for the Office for Industry and Mining, Tehran (...

Article

Margaret Graves

An opening or frame, which may be either load-bearing or decorative, with a profile based on the segment of a circle or series of segments. A true brick or masonry arch is a composite structure, whose wedge-shaped constructional blocks (voussoirs) are disposed radially and held together in compression. A series of arches springing from columns or piers or cut through a wall is known as an arcade, and is often used around courtyards in Islamic architecture. A blind arch refers to an arch which is filled in; blind arches are frequently used for decoration on the external walls of buildings, like those on the Gunbad-i Surkh (1147–8) at Maragha in Iran.

The arch, like many of the architectural forms used in the design of early mosques in the Mediterranean region (see Mosque), was adapted from the local Roman architecture. From the outset, however, Islamic designers were far more adventurous than their Roman forebears. A semi-circular arch springing from columns appears in some Umayyad architecture, such as the entrance of the prayer-hall of the Great Mosque of Damascus (706–15; ...

Article

Ardabil  

Abbas Daneshvari

[Ardabīl; Ardebil]

City in Azerbaijan in north-west Iran c. 180 km east of Tabriz, situated on the eastern slopes of Mt Sabalan, an extinct volcano, and with a population of c. 222,000. Founded in the pre-Islamic period, it flourished after the Arab conquest in the 7th century, often serving as the capital of Azerbaijan. It was sacked by the Mongols in 1220 and was subsequently overshadowed by Tabriz, but its partial recovery was marked by the erection of a new congregational mosque in the early 14th century. Now ruined, this consisted of a rectangular hypostyle prayer-hall with a square domed ‘sanctuary’ in front of the mihrab.

Ardabil became one of Iran’s holiest cities under the Safavid family dynasty (reg 1501–1732), which was descended from a local mystic, Shaykh Safi al-Din Ishaq (d 1334). Through the patronage of the Safavid shahs, his tomb and the associated hospice (khānaqāh) became an important shrine. The main buildings are clustered around a rectangular paved courtyard. On the north side is the Jannatsaray (...

Article

Hasan-Uddin Khan

(b Tehran, March 9, 1939).

Iranian architect, urban planner and writer. He studied architecture at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, Pittsburgh (BA, 1961) and at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA (March, 1962). He worked in several firms in the USA, including Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, before returning to Iran to work for the National Iranian Oil Company (1964–6). In 1966 he became Design Partner for Iran’s largest archictectural firm, Abdul Aziz Farman Farmaian & Associates, in Tehran, and in 1972 he set up his own practice in Tehran, the Mandala Collaborative. Ardalan, whose work ranges from private residences to master plans for new towns, is one of the most important architects to emerge from Iran in the recent past. His work reflects his particular concern for cultural and ecological aspects of architecture; in Iran it is strongly rooted in an understanding of the traditions and forms of Iranian Islam, although his buildings are in a totally contemporary idiom. Perhaps his best-known work is the Iran Centre for Management Studies (...

Article

Abbas Daneshvari

[Ardistāni; Ardestān]

Iranian town in the province of Isfahan, just east of the road from Natanz to Na’in. It occupies an ancient site and preserves the ruins of a Sasanian fire-temple, but the most important monuments date from the medieval period, when Ardistan was a flourishing agricultural centre, renowned for its silk. By the 10th century the town was fortified and had five gates. Its congregational mosque, which now has a four-iwan plan, was first built during this period; a tunnel-vaulted arcade in the south-west corner with a fragmentary kufic inscription and polylobed piers can be attributed to the 10th century, when similar work was done on the Friday Mosque at Isfahan (see Islamic art, §ii, 5(i)(a)). In 1158–60 the mosque was remodelled on the orders of Abu Tahir Husayn ibn Ghali ibn Ahmad by the master Mahmud ibn al-Isfahani known as al-Ghazi (see Islamic art, §ii, 5(i)(b)). The domed bay in front of the mihrab and the adjacent qibla iwan date from this rebuilding and are notable for their original decoration, which includes three stucco mihrabs, brickwork highlighted in red and white and plaster decoration in purple, yellow, white and blue. In ...

Article

Dennis Raverty

(b Tehran, Jul 10, 1939).

American sculptor of Iranian birth. Armajani studied in Iran at the University of Tehran before immigrating to the USA in 1960 to complete his studies in philosophy at Macalester College in Saint Paul, MN, where he settled permanently. He became a naturalized US citizen in 1967. Armajani used the language of vernacular architecture in his sculpture to create spaces into which the viewer moves, sometimes being literally surrounded by the sculpture. Cellar doors, back stairways, loading docks, benches, bridges, porches, gazebos, and other such homely architectural elements are the inspiration for his sculptures and installations. Early in Armajani’s career he was on the faculty of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, where he lectured on philosophy and conceptual art, but he left teaching in 1975 to concentrate exclusively on his sculpture.

Armajani stated repeatedly that his intention was to create a “neighborly” space, that is, a space that brings people together. His public sculpture is perhaps best thought of as social sculpture, in the sense meant by postwar German artist Joseph Beuys: a community-seeking, politically progressive, public art. Armajani’s many commissions include the Irene Hixon Whitney Bridge in Minneapolis (...

Article

S. J. Vernoit

(Walker)

(b Devonport, April 19, 1864; d London, June 9, 1930).

English Orientalist and historian of Islamic painting. He was attracted to Oriental studies while reading classics at Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he was inspired by Edward Cowell and William Robertson Smith. From 1888 he taught philosophy at the Anglo-Oriental College at Aligarh, India. With the appearance of his Preaching of Islam (1896), an account of the spread of Islam, he achieved high academic acclaim and in 1898 became professor of philosophy in the Indian Educational Service, teaching at Government College, Lahore. He returned to London in 1904 to become assistant librarian at the India Office Library, where he studied illustrated manuscripts and made significant purchases. He also taught Arabic at University College. In 1909 he was appointed Educational Adviser for Indian Students in Britain and after 1917, as secretary to the Secretary of State, was responsible for Indian students. When he retired from the India Office in 1920...

Article

Lale H. Uluç

(b Istanbul, 1875; d 1971).

Turkish art historian . The son of the grand vizier Ahmed Esad Pasha (1828–75), he was forced in 1891 to follow family tradition and enrol at the Military Academy rather than at the Academy of Fine Arts in Istanbul as he desired. Nevertheless, he pursued his artistic interests among a group of military artists and resigned shortly after he was graduated. He then travelled extensively, researching and writing about Turkish art until 1912, when he became a civil servant. In 1920 he started teaching municipal administration, town planning and architectural history at the Academy of Fine Arts. A highly versatile intellectual, he was also an administrator, academician, editor, film director, musician, painter, photographer, novelist and translator. He wrote about the functioning of municipalities, urbanism, the history of Istanbul, modern architecture, the history of Turkish art and music, photography, painting techniques and librarianship, as well as his memoirs, a dictionary and an encyclopedia of art. His most significant contribution to the history of culture was his effort to establish Turkish art as distinct from Islamic art....

Article

Marcella Frangipane

[ Malatya]

Site in eastern Turkey, in the Malatya Plain on the right bank of the River Euphrates. It is a large artificial mound (h. c. 30 m) formed by the superposition of successive dwellings from about the 5th millennium bc to the Islamic period, c. 12th century ad. It was a strategic political and economic centre, especially in the Late Uruk period (c. 3300–c. 2900 bc), and was important in the cultural contexts of both Mesopotamia and Anatolia, ancient. Finds from the excavations are housed in the Malatya Museum and the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara.

Excavations in the southern area of the mound have revealed a stratified succession of four monumental public buildings of mud-brick at a depth of c. 8 m; radiocarbon dating has suggested that these structures were built c. 3300–3000 bc. Most have thick walls and stone foundations, and contain several rooms. Many niches, plastered and painted white, or more rarely red, are set in the interior walls. Building I, the most recent, has a recognizable temple plan with a rectangular cella containing a central podium and a basin for sacrifices against the end wall; on one side are two communicating rooms for storage. The walls of the main room are richly decorated with concentric ovals stamped with a mould, comparable to an example from southern Mesopotamia (now Iraq) in Uruk itself....

Article

S. J. Vernoit

[Arab. Al-fann wa’l-ḥurriyya]

Egyptian group of Surrealist writers, artists and intellectuals founded on 9 January 1939 by the poet Georges Hunain (1914–73). The group included the Egyptian painters Ramsis Yunan (1914–66), Fu’ad Kamil (1919–73) and Kamil al-Talamsani (1917–72). Inspired by the work of André Breton, whom Hunain met in Paris in 1936, the aim of the group was to defend freedom in art by stressing the liberating role of the individual imagination. On 22 December 1938 Hunain and his colleagues signed a manifesto entitled ‘Vive l’Art Dégénéré’, which protested against Fascism, particularly Hitler’s claim that modern art was degenerate. The manifesto was followed by further writings, conferences and debates. Artists from the group exhibited work in June 1939 at the premises of Art and Freedom at 28 Shari‛ al-Madabigh in Cairo. In January 1940 the magazine al-Ta ṭawwur was launched, which presented ideas behind modern art to an Egyptian audience. This was followed in ...

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

Artuqid  

[Ortukid]

Islamic dynasty that ruled in south-east Anatolia from 1098 to 1408. The Artuqids were descendants of a Turkoman military commander in the service of the Saljuq dynasty; his family settled in Diyarbakır and carved out two principalities, one in Diyarbakır and the other in Mardin and Mayyafariqin. The branch in Diyarbakır fell to the Ayyubid dynasty in 1232, but the other branch survived, sometimes in vassalage, until it was extinguished by the Qaraqoyunlu dynasty. In the 12th century the Artuqids battled against the crusader County of Edessa; it was an Artuqid who took captive Baldwin at Harran in 1104.

Four large Artuqid congregational mosques survive, at Diyarbakır, Mardin, Mayyafariqin (now Silvan) and Dunaysir (now Kızıltepe), all with plans based on that of the Great Mosque of Damascus (see Islamic art, §II, 5(ii)(e)). The one at Diyarbakır (12th century) has a courtyard in the Classical revival style then in vogue in Syria, but the other buildings, of the late 12th century and early 13th, show a synthesis of Syrian and Anatolian decoration, as does the architectural style of the Saljuq dynasty of Anatolia. This style is continued at Mardin in the Sultan ‛Isa Madrasa (...

Article

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

[Pers. ‛Ashqābād; formerly Ashkhabad Askhabad, Poltoratsk]

Capital city of Turkmenistan. Lying in an oasis south of the Karakum Desert, the city was founded in 1881 on the site of a mountain village (Rus. aul). Linked by rail with the Caspian coast in 1885, it developed rapidly as the center of the Transcaspian region at the turn of the 20th century and became the capital of the Turkmen republic in 1924. It suffered greatly from earthquakes in 1893, 1895 and 1929; following complete destruction by the earthquake of 6 October 1948, the city was rebuilt during the 1950s and 1960s.

Saparmurat Niyazov (generally referred to as Turkmenbashi, or leader of the Turkmen), president from 1985 to 2006, used the revenues from huge gas reserves to lavishly embellish the city with grandiose monuments of gleaming white marble and gold. Civic structures include not only the palace, government offices and an exhibition center, but also the Arch of Neutrality, a large tripod in front of which stands a gold statue of Turkmenbashi that rotates to face the sun. Religious structures include the Azadi Mosque, which resembles the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, and the Kipchak Mosque, said to be the largest in Central Asia. The National Museum of History (...

Article

A. A. Ivanov and Jonathan M. Bloom

revised by Sheila S. Blair

[Pers. ‛Ashqābād; formerly Ashgabat, Askhabad, Poltorack]

Capital city of Turkmenistan. Lying in an oasis south of the Karakum Desert, the city was founded in 1881 on the site of a mountain village (Rus. aul). Linked by rail with the Caspian coast in 1885, it developed rapidly as the center of the Transcaspian region at the turn of the 20th century and became the capital of the Turkmen republic in 1924. It suffered greatly from earthquakes in 1893, 1895 and 1929; following complete destruction by the earthquake of 6 October 1948, the city was rebuilt during the 1950s and 1960s.

The region has long been settled. The archaeological site at Anau, lying 6 km to the east, has yielded items dating from the 5th to the 1st millennium bc and has given its name to the Bronze Age culture of southern Turkmenistan (see Central Asia, §I, 2, (iii), (a)). The complex of shaykh Jamal al-Din (...

Article

[Ashraf; ‛Alī Ashraf]

(fl c. 1735–80).

Persian painter. Known for a large number of painted and varnished (‘lacquered’) bookbindings, penboxes and mirror-cases (see Islamic art, §viii, 10), ‛Ali Ashraf worked in a small floral style with a characteristic motif of pansies or African violets on a black ground. His style, notable for its richness and delicacy, is derived directly from that of his teacher Muhammad Zaman but is standardized and simplified. His debt to his teacher can be seen in his signature, az ba‛d-i mu ḥammad ‛alī ashraf ast, which can be read as either ‘‛Ali [the Prophet’s son-in-law] is the noblest after Muhammad [the Prophet]’ or ‘‛Ali Ashraf is a follower of Muhammad [Zaman]’. This is the way he signed four mirror-cases with fine bird-and-flower designs (1740–1, Edinburgh, Royal Mus. Scotlandr, 1921–43; 1747, London, V&A, 758–1876; 1751–2, New York, Brooklyn Mus., 88.92; and 1755–6, London, J. Pope-Hennessy priv. col.) and a similar but undated penbox (Berne, Hist. Mus., 21–...

Article

[Association of Turkish Painters ; Turkish Fine Arts Society ; Turk. Osmanli ressamlar cemiyeti ; Türk ressamlar cemiyeti; Türk sanayi-i nefise birliǧi; Güzel sanatlar birliǧi]

Turkish group of painters founded in 1908 by students from the Fine Arts Academy in Istanbul. They had their first exhibition in Istanbul in 1910 and also published the monthly journal Naşir-i efkâr (‘Promoter of ideas’), which was supported financially by Crown Prince Abdülmecid (1868–1944), himself a painter and calligrapher and honorary president of the Association. The members included Ibrahim Çallı, who was recognized as the most prominent in the group, Ruhi Arel (1880–1931), Feyhaman Duran (1886–1970), Nazmi Ziya Güran, Namık Ismail (1890–1935), Avni Lifij (1889–1927), Hikmet Onat (1886–1977) and Sami Yetik (1876–1945). It was not very active from 1910, when some of its painters left Istanbul to study art in Europe, but their return at the outbreak of World War I brought renewed activity. Some members were responsible for bringing Impressionism and other European movements to Turkey, and they acquainted the Turkish public with figurative and narrative compositions, as well as portraiture. The Association organized annual exhibitions at the Galatasaray High School in Istanbul, and some of the artists were given workshops and taken to the Front during World War I. Many of the painters also became influential teachers at the Fine Arts Academy: ...

Article

Principal instrument of the pre-modern astronomer for taking readings of the altitudes of stars and planets. The astrolabe was invented by the Greeks; together with Greek science it was passed to the Islamic world in the 8th and 9th centuries ad, and thence to western Europe. The earliest extant astrolabe was made in 927–8 by an Arab named Nastalus or Bastalus, and at least eight 10th-century astrolabes are known.

Astrolabes are of several types. The most familiar is the flat or planispheric (Arab. sathī or musattah) astrolabe employing a stereographic projection of the heavens. Spherical (kūrī) astrolabes were invented in antiquity, and a linear (khattī) astrolabe was invented by the Persian astronomer al-Muzaffar ibn Muzaffar al-Tusi (d c. 1213), but no examples of these types are known to have survived. Celestial globes (e.g. 1085–6; Florence, Mus. Stor. Sci.) and armillary spheres were made in the Islamic world, but as these models of the heavens have no provision for the solution of problems of spherical astronomy or for the calculation of trigonometric functions, they are not true astrolabes. Flat astrolabes employing non-stereographic projections are described in astronomical texts, but none seems to have been built....

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

Aswan  

Edda Bresciani

[anc. Egyp. Abu, Swenet; Copt. Sawan; Gr. Syene]

Egyptian city at the northern end of the first Nile cataract, c. 900 km south of Cairo. The modern town chiefly stretches along the eastern bank of a sandstone valley, which also contains numerous islands formed by the granite outcrops of the cataract; its ancient monuments are found on both the east and west banks and on some of the islands.

In ancient times Aswan was a garrison town marking the traditional boundary between Egypt and Nubia; as such it served as the capital of the first nome (province) of Egypt and the seat of its governors. The town’s wealth was generated by its position on an important trade route between the Nile Valley and the African lands to the south and by its granite quarries, which provided the material for countless ancient monuments. The islands of the cataract enjoyed religious status as the mythological source of the annual Nile inundation, while the Temple of Isis at ...