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Abarquh  

[Abarqūh]

Iranian town in northern Fars province. A prosperous centre in medieval times, by the 10th century it was fortified with a citadel and had a congregational mosque. The octagonal tower of mortared stone known as the Gunbad-i ‛Ali was erected, according to its inscription, by a Daylamite prince in 1056–7 to contain the remains of his parents. The Masjid-i Birun, a mosque to the south of the town, may be slightly earlier, although it has many later additions. The congregational mosque (rest.), with four iwans around a rectangular court, dates mostly to the 14th century, although the base of the dome chamber probably belongs to the 12th-century mosque. The many mihrabs within the mosque include a particularly fine stucco example (1338). There are also several mud-brick tombs in the town. These square structures have plain exteriors and plastered and painted interiors. One of the earliest is the tomb of Pir Hamza Sabzpush (12th century); the finest was that of Hasan ibn Kay Khusraw (...

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Eleanor Sims

[Shaykh ‛Abbāsī]

(fl 1650–84).

Persian painter. He was one of a small group of artists working in Iran in the second half of the 17th century who painted in an eclectic manner that drew on European images and Mughal Indian styles (see Islamic art, §III, 4(vi)(a)). He appears to have been the earliest of this group, which included Muhammad Zaman and ‛Aliquli Jabbadar, to integrate these ‘exotic’ elements into his work. He invariably inscribed his work with the punning Persian phrase Bahā girift chū gardīd Shaykh ‛Abbāsī (‘It [He] acquired worth when he became Shaykh ‛Abbasi’). The honorific it contains (‛Abbasi; also a type of coin, whence the pun) suggests that he was in the service of Shah ‛Abbas II (reg 1642–66). He also signed paintings during the reign of Shah Sulayman (reg 1666–94).

Shaykh ‛Abbasi illustrated manuscripts and painted miniatures on single leaves of paper and, almost certainly, on lacquered papier-mâché objects, such as penboxes and mirror cases. More than 15 of his known paintings are signed, 8 in one manuscript (Baltimore, MD, Walters A. Mus., MS. W.668), and 25 can be attributed to him. His subjects include portraits of Safavid and Mughal rulers and of the Virgin and Child copied from European prints. His style is unmistakable, combining sure draughtsmanship with pale, transparent colour washes. Unlike Muhammad Zaman, he had a minimal interest in illusionism, restricting himself to darkening the edges of trees and buildings along one side (usually the right). His figures, especially heads and faces, are Indian in appearance as well as in the stippled manner in which they are drawn. His later pictures seem more Indian than his earlier work; Zebrowski proposed a connection with Golconda painting (...

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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 (...

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Çigdem Kafesçioglu and Walter B. Denny

In 

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Jonathan M. Bloom

revised by Sheila S. Blair

(b Kishorganj, East Pakistan [now Bangladesh], Nov 18, 1914; d Dhaka, May 28, 1976).

Bangladeshi painter and printmaker. He studied painting at the Government School of Art in Calcutta from 1933 to 1938, and then taught there until 1947. His work first attracted public attention in 1943 when he produced a powerful series of drawings of the Bengal famine. After the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 he worked as chief designer in the Pakistan government’s Information and Publications Division, and also became principal of the Institute of Fine Arts in Dhaka (later known as the Bangladesh College of Arts and Crafts), which he helped to found in 1948 and where he remained until 1967. From 1951 to 1952 he visited Europe and, in addition to exhibiting his work at several locations, worked at the Slade School of Art in London, and represented Pakistan at the UNESCO art conference in Venice in 1952. An exhibition of his work in Lahore in 1953 became the starting-point for a series of ...

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‛Abid  

Jeffrey A. Hughes

[‛Ābid]

(fl c. 1615–58).

Indian miniature painter, son of Aqa Riza and brother of Abu’l-Hasan. Both his father and his brother worked for the Mughal emperor Jahangir (reg 1605–27). Although ‛Abid probably began working in the royal atelier c. 1615, all of his known signed works are datable to the reign of Shah Jahan (reg 1628–58). His style varied somewhat from that of his celebrated older brother, but ‛Abid’s work also stayed within the strict formalism of the Persian-derived courtly concerns for symmetry, technical perfection and minute detail. Within these constraints, ‛Abid’s portraits of court figures are injected with an animation that creates characterization of individual personalities and intensifies the narrative. ‛Abid was an accomplished colourist, whose vivid use of colour seems to contrast with the realism of his subjects, primarily battle and court scenes. His known paintings are relatively few; most are from the Padshāhnāma of c. 1636–58 (Windsor Castle, Royal Lib., MS. HB.149, fols 94...

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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 ...

Article

J. P. Losty

(b 1588; fl 1600–30).

Indian painter.

In 1618 the Mughal emperor Jahangir (reg 1605–27) wrote in his memoirs that Abu’l-Hasan’s ‘work was perfect…At the present time he has no rival or equal… Truly he has become Nadir al-Zaman (“Wonder of the age”)’. Some of this artist’s paintings are among the greatest in Mughal art. He was born in Jahangir’s household in 1588, the son of the erstwhile Safavid artist Aqa Riza. Abu’l-Hasan’s earliest known work, a drawing based on Albrecht Dürer’s St John and executed when he was only 12 (Oxford, Ashmolean), already shows in its naturalism the trend of his mature work. A single painting in a manuscript of the fable-book Anvār-i Suhaylī (‘Lights of Canopus’), probably done in 1604 (London, BL, Add. MS. 18579), develops the naturalism of his portraiture but still contains a Safavid landscape based on his father’s work; his sense of respect for the latter is indicated by his signing himself here ‘the dust of Riza’s threshold’. He maintained throughout his career the meticulous finish of the Safavid style (...

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S. J. Vernoit

[Abū’l-Qāsim]

(fl c. 1816).

Persian painter. His only known work is a long composition depicting the Qajar monarch Fath ‛Ali Shah (reg 1797–1834) entertained by female musicians and dancers. The only surviving fragments of it are a painting of the shah (London, B. W. Robinson priv. col.) and three paintings of the entertainers (Tehran, Nigaristan Mus., ex-Amery priv. col.). The paintings of a woman playing a drum and of a woman playing a stringed instrument are signed raqam-i kamtarīn Abū’l-Qāsim (‘painted by the most humble Abu’l-Qasim’) and dated 1816, but the third painting showing a woman dancing is half-length and damaged. All the fragments share the same continuous architectural background and scale (a little less than life-size). Robinson has suggested that this mural might be the one described in the mid-19th century by the traveller Robert Binning, who reported that the house he occupied in Shiraz contained a painting of Fath ‛Ali Shah seated in state attended by ten women. The composition extended around three sides of the room and the figures were almost life-size. This identification suggests that Abu’l-Qasim might have been a native of Shiraz....

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Howard Crane

[Esir; ‛Alā’ al-Dīn ‛Alī ibn ‛Abd al-Karīm]

(b ?Tabriz; d Istanbul, c. 1537).

Ottoman architect. His epithets, acemi (Persian) and esir (prisoner), suggest that he was captured in the 1514 campaign against the Safavids of Iran by the Ottoman sultan Selim I (reg 1512–20). He served as chief imperial architect from at least September 1525 until March 1537. Works attributed to him include the mosque of Çoban Mustafa Pasha (1515) in Eskişehir, the complex of Çoban Mustafa Pasha in Gebze (1519–25) and the mosque and tomb of Selim I in Istanbul (1523). He also founded the Mimar Mosque and dervish hostel (Turk. zaviye), near the Mevlevihane Yeni Kapı in Şehremini, Istanbul, where he is buried. His style is marked by sound engineering and extreme eclecticism. The complex in Gebze, for example, was decorated with marble panelling in the style of Mamluk buildings in Egypt, while the mosque of Selim is a direct quotation of the mosque of Bayezid II in ...

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Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

(b. Oakland, CA, 1893; d. Shiraz, Iran, 25 Jan. 1977).

American historian of Iranian art. While studying mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley, Ackerman met and eventually married Arthur Upham Pope, with whom she had taken courses in philosophy and aesthetics. In 1926 she and Pope organized the first ever exhibition of Persian art at the Pennsylvania Museum and helped create the First International Congress of Oriental Art. In 1930 Ackerman was stricken with polio but taught herself to walk again. They were instrumental in preparing the 1931 Persian Art Exhibition at Burlington House, London, and the Second International Congress of Iranian Art and Archaeology, as well as the Third Congress in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) in 1935 and the exhibition of Iranian art at the Iranian Institute in New York in 1940. She visited Iran for the first time in 1964, when the shah of Iran invited Pope to revive the Asia Institute; it was associated with Pahlavi University in Shiraz until ...

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(b Istanbul, 1898; d Istanbul, 1957).

Turkish sculptor. After military service in World War I he went in 1918 to the Fine Arts Academy in Istanbul, where he studied under the sculptor Ihsan Özsoy (1867–1944). With the help of his father he then went to Germany, where he studied at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich. From Munich he went to Paris, where, after failing to get lessons from Aristide Maillol, he worked independently, inspired by the work of Maillol and Emile-Antoine Bourdelle. After returning to Turkey in 1925 and passing an examination he was able to go back to Paris, where he entered the Académie Julian and worked under the sculptors Henri Bouchard (1875–1960) and Paul Landowski (1875–1961). He returned to Turkey in 1928 and worked first as an art teacher at Edirne Teachers' College and then at various middle schools in Istanbul until his death. His principal works included the monument in Menemen to ...

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R. Nath, Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

[‛Ādil Shāhī]

Dynasty that ruled portions of southern India from 1489 to 1686. Its founder, Yusuf ‛Adil Shah (reg 1489–1509), had come to India from Persia and was appointed governor of Bijapur under the Bahmani family rulers. He declared his independence when that dynasty declined. Yusuf had a prolonged conflict with the Portuguese, who were able to secure Goa in 1510. The ‛Adil Shahis and their rival states in the Deccan formed a series of alliances and counter-alliances in the struggle for hegemony. For example, in 1543 a confederacy of Ahmadnagar, Golconda and Vijayanagara attacked the ‛Adil Shahi capital Bijapur, but Ibrahim ‛Adil Shah (reg 1534–57) maintained control. His successor ‛Ali ‛Adil Shah (reg 1557–79) joined an alliance that destroyed Vijayanagara in 1565. ‛Ali ‛Adil Shah was an enlightened prince who built a large number of public works, including the Jami‛ Mosque at Bijapur. The dynasty reached its zenith under ...

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

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

Aesthetics is a branch of philosophy concerned primarily with the arts, with concepts of natural beauty and the appreciation of nature. Whereas an important body of literature has been written about Classical and medieval European concepts of beauty, relatively little has been composed about the subject in Islamic art, although historians of literature have dealt extensively with aesthetic concepts in their studies of classical Arabic. Arabic was undoubtedly the lingua franca of medieval Islamic literary culture, but different and distinct literatures emerged in regions where Persian and Turkish prevailed, particularly in the period after c. 1250. It seems therefore somewhat naive to imagine that a single aesthetic—however deeply based in the shared heritage of the Koran and Islamic thought—could have pertained throughout Islamic literary—or visual—culture from the shores of the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean and from the steppes of Central Asia to the Sahel of Africa.

Encyclopaedia of Islam (Leiden, 1954–)...

Article

D. W. MacDowall, W. Ball, Gregory L. Possehl, Maurizio Taddei, C. Fabrègues, E. Errington, N. Hatch Dupree, Sheila S. Blair, Jonathan M. Bloom and F. Tissot

Country of some 647,500 sq. km in the middle of the steppe and desert zone of Eurasia. It is bounded on the north by the Amu (Oxus) River and the republics of Central Asia, on the west by Iran and on the south and east by the Indian subcontinent. In the Pamir Mountains to the north-east, a narrow tongue of land known as the Wakhan corridor links the country with China (see fig.). Located at the crossroads of major trade and migration routes between the Mediterranean, Central Asia, India and China, the region has been subjected to diverse cultural influences throughout its history.

The physical geography of Afghanistan is very varied and includes formidable mountain ranges, fertile valleys and barren deserts. The dominant mountainous core is the Hindu Kush, an extension of the Karakoram and Pamir mountains that stretches south-west for some 965 km and has peaks rising to some 5180 m in height. To the north, between the Hindu Kush and the Amu River lie the semi-desert plains of Turkestan. South of the Hindu Kush is a transitional zone of plateaux with broad mountain valleys. To the west and south-west the mountains gradually descend to the stony and sandy deserts of the Iranian plateau. North of Kabul the Kuh-e-Baba range (‘Grandfather Mountains’) of the Hindu Kush is the watershed for four great Afghan rivers: the Kabul River flowing east to the Indus, the Kunduz flowing north into the Amu River, the Hari Rud flowing west to Herat and the Helmand, which flows southwards into the marshy lake of Hamun Helmand in Sistan. There are several passes through the mountainous core of the country linking north to south and east to west, and traffic is also channelled along the rivers or round the mountain mass. The low-lying plains and deserts between Herat and Kandahar provide an easy route for traders and invaders travelling eastwards into the Indus Valley....