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John Paddock

Pre-Columbian people and stylistic tradition in the Oaxaca region of Mexico. These people’s name for themselves was Peni-Zaa (‘real people’), but the term Zapotec (‘people of the sweet fruit’) is an Aztec improvisation based on the rough phonetic similarity of zaa and Aztec tsa. There is no simple Zapotec art style, rather an orderly uninterrupted sequence of styles stretching from c. 500 bc to c. ad 800. After 600 bc culture was centred around the hilltop city of Monte Albán. The Zapotec and Mixtec peoples are still the most numerous of the Indian peoples in Oaxaca: the Zapotecs dominate the eastern portion of the state, the Mixtecs the western. Linguistic research, however, suggests that Zapotec inhabitants of the region could date back to c. 4500 bc.

From 1931 the Mexican scholar Alfonso Caso began exploring Monte Albán and the Oaxaca Valley; his work remains a primary source for the study of Zapotec–Mixtec culture. The centuries of isolation essential to a rare case of homogeneous development like that of the Zapotec people of Monte Albán were favoured by topography: range after range of mountains on every side made communication with the central valleys of Oaxaca, at whose confluence Monte Albán rises, laborious and slow. Settled agricultural villages appeared in the valleys, as elsewhere in Mesoamerica, by about ...



Muslim dynasty that ruled in parts of the Yemen from the late 9th century ad to the 20th. The Zaydi imams traced their descent to the Prophet Muhammad and took their name from Zayd (d ad 740), the son of the fourth Shi‛ite imam. The Zaydi imamate in the Yemen was established by Yahya al-Hadi (854–911) who arrived there in 889, but his austere code of behaviour initially won little success and he was forced to leave. He returned in 896 and established his seat at Sa‛da, to the north of San‛a’. He won the allegiance of several tribes by acting as a mediator in tribal disputes, but his influence remained precarious. After his death his followers remained in the Yemen, and the Zaydi imamate continued to claim authority by divine right, although there was no strict dynastic criterion for the election of imams. Based in the north of the country, the power of the Zaydi imams varied over the centuries; occasionally it reached as far as San‛a’. The movement was forced underground by the advent of the ...


Roger Goepper

[ Yen Chen-ch’ing ; zi Qingchen ; Lu Gong ]

(b Shandong Province, ad 709; d 785).

Chinese calligrapher, scholar, writer and government official . His family, members of the gentry, moved within Shandong from the north to the south, giving him an acquaintance with the different cultural traditions of both areas. After the early death of his father he was educated by his uncle, Yan Yuansun. At the age of 28 he passed the civil service examinations to become a jinshi. He was prefect of Dezhou and governor of Pingyuan, both in Shandong Province, and he held high positions at the imperial library, in the Ministry of Justice and as preceptor of the crown prince. In 767 he received the title Duke of Lu (Lu Gong) for his honesty and integrity as investigation censor of the Bureau of Administration. An outstanding example of Confucian loyalty, he fought against the rebellion of An Lushan in 755 and against Li Xieli in 781; Li took him prisoner and had him strangled in 785....


Joan Stanley-Baker

[ Chan Tzu-ch’ien ]

( fl Sui dynasty, ad 581–618).

Chinese painter . After the defeat of the Northern Zhou (557–81), he was summoned to Chang’an (now Xi’an, Shaanxi Province) by the victorious new emperor, Wendi (reg 582–604). He became the most influential painter of the Sui period, attaining several prestigious titles. Emperor Wendi promoted Buddhist art and sponsored sculptures and wall paintings throughout China. Zhan Ziqian was among the best of the artists who traversed the land to the growing numbers of Buddhist monasteries and temples, producing wall paintings for Guangming si, Lingbao si and Yunhua si in Luoyang (Henan Province) and Chang’an, for Dongan si in Jiangdu (now Yangzhou, Jiangsu Province) and for other temples in western Zhejiang Province. Tang period ( ad 618–907) writers recalled Zhan’s wall painting Eight Kings Dividing the Shari (Skt sarīra, the relics of a Buddha after cremation), a popular theme in Buddhist painting during the Sui period, at the Chan Buddhist monastery Longxing si in Chengdu, Sichuan Province....


S. J. Vernoit

Muslim dynasty that ruled in parts of North Africa and Spain between ad 972 and 1152. The founder of the dynasty, Ziri ibn Manad (d 972), was a Sanhaja Berber in the service of the Fatimid caliphs, who ruled from Tunisia. In 936 Ziri founded Ashir, the family seat, in the Titeri Mountains 170 km south of Algiers. His son Buluggin (reg 972–84) was appointed governor of North Africa when the Fatimids left Kairouan for Cairo. Under Buluggin, his son al-Mansur (reg 984–96), and his grandson Badis (reg 996–1016), the Zirids greatly enlarged their territory, expanding into northern Morocco, where they came in conflict with the Umayyads of Spain. By 1015 the Zirid domain had become too large to be governed from Kairouan alone: the Zirids retained control of the eastern half, while the western portion was granted to Buluggin’s son Hammad (reg 1015–28), who established his capital at the Qal‛at Bani Hammad to the east of Ashir. In ...


Lucy Der Manuelian and Armen Zarian

Ruins of the Armenian patriarch’s palace and cathedral 3 km south-east of Ēdjmiadzin (anc. Vagharshapat), in Armenia. The building was dedicated to the Heavenly Hosts, the ‘vigilant powers’ (zvart’nunk’ner), who appeared in a dream to St Grigor the Illuminator (c. ad 239–c. 325/6). According to a Greek inscription and the Armenian histories of Sebeos (7th century) and Katholikos Hovhannes Draskhanakertc‘i (10th century), the cathedral was built c. 650–59 by the Katholikos Nerses III, known as ‘the Builder’ (reg 641–61), at the site where according to tradition St Grigor the Illuminator was met by the pagan Armenian king Trdat III (reg c. ad 280–c. 330). By the time of the cathedral’s destruction in the 10th century, it was also said to house the relics of St Grigor.

Although the cathedral was excavated in 1901–7, only its foundations, parts of the walls and vaulting, bases and sections of piers and columns, some eagle capitals and other fragments of relief sculpture were found. On the basis of these remains, the load-bearing capability of the massive pillars and comparisons with a later Armenian copy, St Grigor at ...