You are looking at  101-120 of 362 results  for:

  • African Art x
  • Art of the Middle East/North Africa x
Clear All


Peter French

[Arab. Tall al-Fara‛īn; anc. Egyp. Pr-Wadjit; Copt. Puoto; Gr. Buto.]

Ancient Egyptian city in the western Delta that flourished during the Predynastic and Saite periods. The ancient Egyptian name of the city was Pr-Wadjit (‘House of Wadjit’), and its principal deities were Wadjit, the snake-goddess, and Horus, the falcon-god. More commonly known as Buto, the site was a sacred place of great iconographic importance.

British excavations (1964–9) revealed a major temple, probably dating from the Saite period (664–525 bc). Egyptian excavations (1987–8) have also uncovered stelae and statues dating to the New Kingdom (c. 1540–c. 1075 bc) and the Late Period (c. 750–332 bc), in the area around the temple. Grants of land were made to the temple according to an early Ptolemaic stele, later reused in a Cairo mosque. Apart from a hoard of bronze hawks (Cairo, Egyptian Mus.), few other objects of artistic importance have been found, due to the wet climate, the salty soil and the fact that surface remains are of an industrial city of the Ptolemaic and Roman periods. Since ...




R. G. Morkot

[Egyp. Sehetepneterw; Copt. Pachoras.]

Site in Egypt on the west bank of the Nile, 35 km north of Wadi Halfa. Since the completion of the Aswan High Dam in 1970, Faras has been submerged beneath Lake Nasser. There were three important phases in the history of Faras: the later New Kingdom (c. 1540–c. 1075 bc), when it was rebuilt by Tutankhamun (reg c. 1332–c. 1323 bc) as the administrative capital of Lower Nubia; during the Meroitic period (c. 300 bcad 360), when it was again a regional capital; and Christian times (8th–15th centuries ad) when it was the seat of a bishop.

In terms of Nubian art the Meroitic and Christian phases at Faras are the most important. The large Meroitic cemetery has produced a great quantity of pottery vessels in fine painted wares, and painted pottery has long been recognized as one of the most important aspects of Meroitic art, revealing influences from Pharaonic, Hellenistic and Roman Egypt in its forms and the decorative motifs employed (...


S. J. Vernoit

(b Zagazig, Dec 20, 1906; d Cairo, Feb 21, 1963).

Egyptian historian, sociologist, playwright, literary critic, linguist and art historian. He attended secondary school at the Jesuit Collège de la Sainte-Famille, Cairo, and then pursued his higher education under Ahmad Zaki Pasha in Cairo and at the Sorbonne in Paris under the Orientalists Louis Massignon and Maurice Gaudefroy-Demombynes. In 1932 he completed two doctoral theses on pre-Islamic Arabia, one on the concept of honour, the other on the nature of linguistic exposition. He travelled widely in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Lebanon and Turkey, and in the 1940s began to dedicate more time to writing plays, short stories and literary criticism. He was also editor of the literary journal Al-Muqtaṭaf and researched Egyptian folklore. From 1948 he was consultant to the Egyptian delegation to UNESCO and from 1958 secretary-general of the French Institut d’Egypte. From 1942 he wrote about Islamic art, especially illustrated manuscripts of the 12th to the 14th century from Iraq and Syria, from the point of view of aesthetics and Christian and Muslim iconography. He also wrote about the lawfulness of painting in Islam. He discovered several important Arabic manuscripts with illustrations, and his interpretation of Arab painting was enriched by his extensive knowledge of history and literature. He published academic works and drama in French and Arabic and was one of the first Arab historians to write about Islamic art. He also supported modern art movements, publishing an open letter to the Soviet president Khrushchev in ...


Hasan-Uddin Khan and Jonathan M. Bloom

Reviser Sheila S. Blair

(b Alexandria, March 23, 1900; d Cairo, Nov 30, 1989).

Egyptian architect, teacher and writer. He graduated in architecture (1926) from the High School of Engineering, University of King Fuad I (now University of Cairo), and then worked at the Department of Municipal Affairs, Cairo (1926–30). He subsequently began to teach at the Faculty of Fine Arts at the university (1930–46 and 1953–7) while working independently as an architect. Fathy’s work can be considered in five main phases (see Steele, 1988). His early projects (1928–37) reveal his interest in the classical Beaux-Arts tradition, Art Deco and other trends fashionable in Europe at the time. In his second phase (1938–56) he developed the interest in indigenous building that made him internationally known. Starting with villas, the use of mud-brick and a preoccupation with the rural poor, Fathy evolved a new aesthetic that irrevocably linked him to local vernacular building traditions. This new direction was expressed in a series of beautiful gouaches and coloured pencil drawings (see Richards, Serageldin and Rastorfer, pls 1–8) exhibited in Mansoura and Cairo in ...



Jonathan M. Bloom

Islamic dynasty that ruled in Ifriqiya (now Tunisia) from ad 909 to 972 and in Egypt from ad 969 to 1171. The Fatimids were Isma‛ili Shi‛ites who traced their ancestry back to Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad, via Isma‛il, the seventh Shi‛ite Imam. They believed that their rightful position as leaders of the Muslim community had been usurped by the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphs. The first Fatimid success was the toppling of the Aghlabid rulers of Ifriqiya in 909. The Fatimid leader ‛Ubayd Allah assumed the title of caliph and the regnal name al-Mahdi (reg 909–34). He soon moved his capital from the hostile religious environment of Kairouan to Mahdia on the Mediterranean coast, a base more appropriate for the expected Fatimid conquest of the rest of the Islamic world. The port soon became a centre for Mediterranean commerce, whose revival was one of the cornerstones of Fatimid prosperity. The indigenous Berber population of North Africa rose in repeated rebellions, often fomented by the Fatimids’ Umayyad rivals in Spain. In 947 the caliph ...



Marianne Barrucand

[Arab. Fās; Fr. Fès]

City in northern Morocco. The role of Fez as a city of artisans and commerce was assured by its location in the midst of a fertile and well-watered undulating region at the crossroads of the east–west passage from the Atlantic Ocean through the Taza Gap to Algeria with the north–south route from the Mediterranean Sea to the Sahara. The oldest Islamic foundation in Morocco, Fez preserves the monuments, souks, craft traditions and commerce of a pre-modern Islamic city. It also enjoys considerable religious and intellectual importance owing to the presence of the Qarawiyyin Mosque and University. UNESCO has funded the elaboration of a master plan for the city to help solve the problem of conserving a competitive, modern urban centre within a city museum.

In ad 789 Idris I (reg 789–93), eponym of the Idrisids (reg 789–926), a local Shi‛ite dynasty, founded the city of Fez (Arab. madīnat fās...


(b Venice, 1373; reg 15 April 1423–23 Oct 1457; d Nov 1, 1457).

Venetian ruler and patron. He was the longest-serving doge in the history of Venice. His reign was a period of constant warfare, during which Venice consolidated her hold on her mainland possessions and acquired further territory. His only surviving son, Jacopo Foscari (c. 1416–57), a celebrated humanist, was three times disgraced for alleged corruption. After his son’s final banishment and death, Francesco was persuaded by the Council of Ten to abdicate. He died a week later and was given a full ducal burial in the church of S Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, Venice. His tomb monument (for illustration see Bregno, (1)) in the same church, probably executed either by Niccolò di Giovanni Fiorentino or by members of the Bregno family, was erected at the instigation of the doge’s grandson Niccolò Foscari. Its mixture of Gothic and Renaissance elements echoes the hybrid character of public art and architecture during his reign....


L. Glynne Davies

(b Amsterdam, Feb 24, 1897; d London, July 16, 1954).

Dutch archaeologist and cultural historian. After studying at the University of Amsterdam and under Flinders Petrie at University College, London, he directed the Egypt Exploration Society’s excavations at Akhenaten’s city of Amarna, (Tell) el- and elsewhere (1925–9). He was Field Director of the Iraq Expedition of the Oriental Institute of Chicago from 1929 to 1937 and conducted excavations at the Assyrian site of Khorsabad and in the Diyala region; the latter made an important contribution to knowledge of the art of the Sumerians, particularly of their architecture and of the Early Dynastic period (c. 2900–2500 bc). He held professorships at Chicago, Amsterdam and London and was Director of the Warburg Institute from 1949 to 1954. In 1954 he was elected a Fellow of the British Academy and he was also Corresponding Member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences.

Frankfort was a scholar of immense range, insight and artistic sensibility, with an abiding concern for the interrelations of the cultures of the ancient Aegean, Egypt and Mesopotamia, and he was instrumental in defining a structure for the integrated study of early Near Eastern civilizations. It was characteristic of his approach to see artefacts as works of art that could lead to a deeper understanding of ancient cultures, rather than merely as sources of historical data: his ...


Ray McKenzie

(b Chesterfield, Derbys, 1822; d Cannes, Feb 25, 1898).

English photographer. He is noted for his studies of the Middle East and for establishing the largest photographic publishing firm in the 19th century. He was born into a Quaker family and spent five unrewarding years apprenticed to a cutler in Sheffield, suffering a nervous breakdown in 1843. After two years recuperative travel he became a successful businessman, first in wholesale groceries and later in printing. His involvement with photography began at this time. He was one of the founder-members of the Liverpool Photographic Society in 1853 and he exhibited portraits and landscapes to much critical acclaim.

The sale of Frith’s printing firm in 1854 financed the expeditions to Egypt and the Holy Land that were to establish his pre-eminence among early travel photographers. He made three trips between 1856 and 1860 (see fig.). On the first, he sailed up the Nile to the Second Cataract, recording the main historic monuments between Cairo and Abu Simbel. On the second, he struck eastwards to Palestine, visiting Jerusalem, Damascus and other sites associated with the life of Christ. The final expedition was the most ambitious, combining a second visit to the Holy Land with a deeper southward penetration of the Nile. His photographs of the temple at ...


James P. W. Thompson

(b La Rochelle, Oct 24, 1820; d Saint-Maurice, Aug 27, 1876).

French painter and writer. The wide skies and sweeping plains of his native Charente region left him with a love of natural beauty for which he later found affinities in Algeria and the Netherlands. From his youth he showed academic intelligence, literary talent and artistic aptitude. In 1839 he was sent to Paris to study law, but he became increasingly interested in drawing. Although his father, a skilled amateur artist who had studied with Jean-Victor Bertin, never became reconciled to his son’s desire to pursue painting as a career, Fromentin was sent to study with the Neo-classical landscape painter Jean-Charles-Joseph Rémond (1795–1875); however, he preferred the more naturalistic Nicolas-Louis Cabat. Fromentin developed slowly as an artist and began to show real promise as a landscape draughtsman only in the early to mid-1840s. He published his first important piece of criticism on the Salon of 1845.

From 3 March to ...



Marla C. Berns

[Fulbe; Peul]

Fulfulde-speaking people, numbering more than six million, scattered across West Africa. Most of the Fulani live in the savannah and semi-desert of the Sudanic belt, with population concentrations in Senegal, the Middle Niger region of Mali, southern Niger, northern Nigeria and northern Cameroon. Their pre-eminent visual arts are the decoration of gourd containers (mostly by pastoral groups in Niger, Nigeria and Cameroon), the weaving of wool blankets (exclusive to the settled artisan castes living in the Middle Niger region of Mali) and body decoration (reflecting a preoccupation with physical beauty shared by all Fulani). Fulani architecture ranges widely from the transient homesteads of nomadic herders to the Hausa-inspired permanent structures of Islamicized urban residents (Prussin). Pottery techniques and styles are in general adopted from neighbouring groups. Some pastoral Fulani women produce coiled fibre mats as lids for gourds, and some other minor arts are also practised. A number of museums in the USA (e.g. ...



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....


Walter Smith

(b Oran, Algeria, Sept 15, 1929).

French architect and teacher. She moved to France in 1947 and after study at the Sorbonne and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris, she opened her own practice at Ivry-sur-Seine, near Paris. During the 1970s and early 1980s she was involved primarily with social housing, most of her projects being located in densely populated urban centres. She advocated bringing nature into urban housing, through the use of garden-balconies and courtyards. Many of her projects have been extremely large in scale, such as the social housing and community development (1968–87; with Jean Renaudie) at Ivry-sur-Seine, comprising 800 flats and maisonettes, together with shops, nursery, medical centre and library. Between 1975 and 1986 she designed 180 balcony flats at Saint-Denis, which betray formal ties to Le Corbusier; a severe, planar geometry is relieved only by the outwardly jutting triangular balconies and cylindrical columns raising the flats above a lower level of shops. Gailhoustet later moved away from urban social housing, frustrated with the restrictions of zoning rules and other regulations. In the late 1980s and after she was involved in housing projects outside France. One of the most ambitious is a housing development (...


Barry Bergdoll

(b Cologne, June 15, 1790; d Paris, Dec 31, 1853).

French architect, writer and archaeologist of German birth. In 1810 he left Cologne with his lifelong friend J. I. Hittorff for Paris, enrolling at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1811 under the tutelage of the ardent Neo-classicists Louis-Hippolyte Lebas and François Debret. But from the beginning Gau was exposed to a wider field of historical sources, first as assistant site architect under Debret on the restoration of the abbey church of Saint-Denis (1813–15) and then from 1815 in Nazarene circles in Rome, where he met the archaeologist and philologist Barthold Nieburh (1776–1831), who arranged a scholarship for him from the Prussian government and a trip through the eastern Mediterranean. In Egypt Gau undertook an arduous trip down the Nile to visit and record the monuments of Nubia, which he published as the lavish folio Antiquités de la Nubie. He noted assiduously every trace of colour on the remains, just as he was to do in ...


(b Alexandria, March 1925; d March 7, 1966).

Egyptian painter. He showed an early interest in art, and at the secondary school of al-Halmiyya in Cairo was taught by the Egyptian painter Hussein Youssef Amin. While at this school, he won a prize for his poster for a government health programme. In 1944 he began to study at the School of Fine Arts in Cairo, and was one of the younger members of the Contemporary Art Group founded in 1946 by Amin. By the late 1940s he was introducing in his paintings literary and philosophical references, as well as highly original and nightmarish images. In 1949 he was arrested with Hussein Youssef Amin because his painting Hunger (retitled Theatre of Life, 1948; artist’s col., see Karnouk, p. 31) was considered an attack on the government. Both were released following the intervention of the Egyptian painters Muhammad Nagy and Mahmud Said.

In 1950 al-Gazzar completed his degree and began to teach at the School of Fine Arts, and from ...


Ian M. E. Shaw

Ancient Egyptian site on the east bank of the Nile near Nag Hammadi, where a ripple-flaked flint knife dating to the Late Predynastic Period (c. 3000 bc; Paris, Louvre, E. 11517) was discovered, an important piece of evidence for the crucial formative phase of Egyptian civilization. The knife was purchased by the French Egyptologist Georges Bénédite in 1894; its original archaeological context is uncertain. Its handle, carved from a single hippopotamus tusk, is decorated on both sides with finely engraved representations in a style that is considered to be more Syrian or Mesopotamian than Egyptian. One face of the handle bears a representation of a variety of wild animals, including two lions held apart by a man wearing a long robe and unusual headgear. Both the costume and the distinctive motif of a man between two beasts are Mesopotamian in origin. The other side has scenes of hand-to-hand fighting between foot-soldiers and a naval battle: both the naval scene and the human ‘hero’ figure between lions are similar to those depicted in the ‘decorated tomb’ at Hierakonpolis. The conflict on the Gebel el-Arak handle is between two different types of boat: the familiar crescent-shaped Egyptian papyrus skiff and another type with an almost vertical prow. It has therefore been suggested that the decoration on the knife-handle records a specific military encounter between Egyptians and Near Eastern (or perhaps Libyan) invaders; the wild animals and battle scenes, however, should perhaps be interpreted more loosely as an indication of the widespread conflict that preceded the establishment of a unified Egyptian state....


Jürgen Osing

[Gabal al-Silsila]. Ancient Egyptian site on a mountain ridge of the Upper Nile valley, c. 65 km north of Aswan, directly bordering the river. It is famous for its immense sandstone quarries (open and in galleries), the largest of which are in the east. These supplied the material for many temples in the region of Thebes, from the 18th Dynasty (c. 1540–c. 1075 bc) to the Roman period (30 bcad 395). The sandstone here is very solid and of excellent quality, and it could be quarried easily and in inexhaustible quantities. Shipping was equally easy. In the quarries there are many royal stelae (especially of Amenophis III and IV and Sethos I), commemorative tablets of officials, and innumerable Egyptian and Greek graffiti and quarry marks that attest to those activities. Many graffiti on the west bank date back to the Middle Kingdom and the 11th Dynasty (...


Elvira D’Amicone

[Arab.: ‘the two mountains’; anc. Egyp. Inerti: ‘the two hills’; Gr. Pathyris]

Ancient Egyptian site c. 28 km south of Luxor on the west bank of the Nile, which flourished from Predynastic times (4th millennium bc) to the Greco-Roman period (c. 332 bcad 395). Excavations carried out between 1910 and 1937 by the Museo Egizio in Turin uncovered an extensive Predynastic period necropolis that yielded quantities of Naqada II (c. 3500– c. 3000 bc) types of black-topped ceramic ware, small schist statues of bearded male heads, and a unique textile fragment painted in red, black and white with scenes from a hippopotamus hunt. The oldest temple of Hathor known in Egypt was constructed at Gebelein during the 3rd Dynasty (c. 2650–c. 2575 bc), and worship of the goddess continued at the site into the Roman period. Reliefs and votive objects from the sanctuary are now in the Museo Egizio, Turin. Extensive First Intermediate Period (...


Philip J. Watson

[Dayr al-Gabrawi]

Site in Egypt, c. 5 km north of Asyut, that was the necropolis of the governors of the 12th Upper Egyptian nome in the 6th Dynasty (c. 2325–c. 2150 bc). The nomarchs and other important officials were buried in two groups of rock-cut tombs. The earlier, northern, group comprises 104 tombs, although very few of these preserve any trace of decoration. In time the necropolis was moved eastwards, and this led to the formation of the more important southern group of 52 tombs. The tombs of Ibi and Djau are large and fully decorated, while seven others preserve the names of their owners. The tomb of Ibi (no. 8) has a rectangular chamber, which originally had two square pillars, with a deep niche in the back wall. In addition to the main burial pit there were two others, one of which was intended for Ibi’s wife. The upper parts of all walls are covered in plaster decorated with paintings. The walls to either side of the doorway depict Ibi fishing and fowling; the shorter side walls contain a biographical text, agricultural scenes and a procession with dancing girls; on the back wall are more agricultural scenes and depictions of craftsmen at work. The niche contains false doors, lists of offerings and prayers. Some of the scenes were reproduced in the 26th Dynasty (...