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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....

Article

[Arab. Al-Jumhūriyyah al-Jazā‛iriyyah al-Dimuqrāṭiyyah al-Sha‛biyya; Al-Jazā’ir]

Country in North Africa with its capital at Algiers.

Algeria is the second largest country in Africa, with an area of c. 2,400,000 sq. km. Extending south from the Mediterranean Sea to the Sahara, it is bordered to the west by Morocco, Western Sahara and Mauritania, to the south by Mali and Niger and to the east by Libya and Tunisia. Geographically Algeria can be divided into three regions: the most populated region of the coastal Atlas range (including the Kabylie Mountains) and small plains in the north; the salt flats and high plateau of the Saharan Atlas range; and the desert (including the Hoggar Mountains), which comprises four-fifths of the country. Most of the population (33 million, 2006 estimate) is Arab or Arabized, although about 20% have retained their Berber identity and language. Nearly all are Sunni Muslim. Many people from the old-established Jewish and more recent European communities left when independence from France was won in ...

Article

E. R. Salmanov and Jonathan M. Bloom

revised by Sheila S. Blair

[anc. Athropatena, Azarbaijan]

Transcaucasian republic on the west side of the Caspian Sea, bounded by the Dagestan republic of the Russian Federation to the north, the Republic of Georgia and the Republic of Armenia to the west, and Caucasus Mountains to the north and west (see fig.). Armenian territories separate the region of Nakhchyvan from the rest of Azerbaijan. To the south, the Araks River (anc. Araxes) forms the border with Iran. The capital, Baku, is a natural port on the Absheron Peninsula of the Caspian coast. Other major towns are Gandja, Shamakhy, Quba, Shaki, Qazakh, Lankaran, Nakhchyvan, in the centre of Nakhchyvan region, and Khankandi, in the centre of Daghly Qarabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) district.

Azerbaijan is located on the principal route from Europe to Asia along the Caspian Sea. Its origins date from the 5th century bc, when it was the 11th district of a Persian empire dominated by Caspian tribes (Herodotus III.93). At the beginning of the Christian era, the kingdom known as Albania by the Greeks was formed by tribes that were probably of Indo-European origin, to judge from the white skin indicated by the name ‘Albanian’. They lived along the Kura and Arax rivers (Strabo: ...

Article

Perween Hasan and Hameeda Hossain

Country in the north-east of the Indian subcontinent, bounded in the south by the Bay of Bengal, on the south-east by Burma (Myanmar) and on all other sides by India. Although a small country of 144,000 sq. km, it supports a population of 147 million (2006 estimate). The region formed part of British India, and in 1947, on partition of the subcontinent at the time of independence, it became East Pakistan. In 1971, following civil war with West Pakistan, it established itself as the independent state of Bangladesh with its capital at Dhaka (Dacca). This entry focuses mainly on the art produced in the country since 1971. For art of the area in earlier times see appropriate sections of Indian subcontinent and entries for Dhaka, Gaur and Rajshahi.

Perween Hasan

In terms of geography, much of Bangladesh is a vast delta traversed by numerous rivers (see fig.). The climate is monsoonal, with high humidity throughout the year. Coastal areas are particularly susceptible to cyclonic storms. Of the population, 98% are ...

Article

Bosnia  

Paul Tvrtković, Predrag Finci and Marian Wenzel

and Herzegovina

Country in the Balkan Peninsula, south-eastern Europe, formerly a republic in Yugoslavia. It borders Serbia, Croatia and Montenegro and covers 51,564 sq. km (see fig.). Bosnia occupies the northern portion of the republic, Herzegovina the southern; they were united in the early Middle Ages. The capital is Sarajevo. The population was c. 4.5 million in 1991, comprising Muslims, Serbs (mainly Orthodox Christian) and Croats (mainly Roman Catholic) as well as numerous minorities. Considerable areas are covered by forest and woodland, with only c. 8% of the region being less than 150 m above sea-level. Climatically the country is divided into a southern, Mediterranean zone and a northern, continental one.

Occupied from Palaeolithic times, the area was sporadically penetrated from ad 375 by the South Slavs and, according to Constantine VII (reg ad 912–59), was settled by the Croats in ad 626. It was ruled by the indigenous Bans (suzerains of the Hungarian/Croatian kings) from the 12th century. Bosnia became an independent kingdom in the 14th century but was conquered by the Ottoman Turks in ...

Article

[Arab. Jumhūriyya Miṣr al-‛Arabiyya.]

Country in North Africa extending into Asia at the south-eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea, with its capital at Cairo. It is bounded in the west by Libya, in the south by Sudan and in the east by the Gaza Strip, Israel, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea. Although its total area is over one million sq. km, this is largely desert; the cultivated and settled part, the Nile Valley and Delta and the oases, is only a quarter of the country’s area. (For a description of its geography see Egypt, ancient, §I, 1.) It is the most populous state in the Arab world, with more than 80 million people (2007 estimate). Traditionally the majority have been fellahin, peasant farmers; despite massive rural migration to the towns, about half the working population is still engaged on the land. The majority are Sunni Muslim and perhaps 10–15% are Copts, the largest Christian minority. Many Jews emigrated in the 1940s and 1950s. At the beginning of the 20th century there were over 100,000 Europeans, but many left in the 1960s....

Article

Jonathan M. Bloom

revised by Sheila S. Blair

[Pers. Jumhūrī-yi Islāmī-yi Īrān]

Country in the Middle East with its capital at Tehran. Iran has an area of c. 1,648,000 sq. km, bordered in the north by Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and the Caspian Sea, in the east by Afghanistan and Pakistan, in the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman and in the west by Turkey and Iraq (see fig.). Large areas of the country consist of mountainous regions or desert; only about 10% of the land is arable and habitable. Iran has a population of more than 65 million (2007 estimate), the majority being Shi‛a Muslim (the religion of the State) and the remainder comprising Sunni Muslims, Armenian Christians and other religious minorities. The official language is Farsi (Persian), and about 25% of Iranians speak Turkic languages. The principal Turkic groups are the Turkmen in the north-east and the Qashgaاi in the Shiraz region. In the north-west the Kurds, who constitute about 5% of the population, have a distinct culture and language, and distinct traditions are also maintained by the Lur and Bakhtyari tribes in the west and the Baluchs in the east. Oil, discovered in the early 20th century, is an important source of revenue, and there are reserves of natural gas, coal, copper and iron ore. As well as oil refining, the manufacture of carpets is a major industry....

Article

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

[Arab. Al-Jumhūriyya al-‛Irāqiyya]

Country in the Middle East with its capital at Baghdad. Iraq has an area of c. 437,500 sq. km, encompassing the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, and it is bordered in the west by Syria and Jordan, in the south by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, in the north by Turkey and in the east by Iran. The economy was largely dependent on the export of oil, but lavish spending and warfare in the late 20th century led to a sharp drop-off in production, such that by 2004 Iraq was $42 billion dollars in debt. The Paris Club of creditor nations, an informal group of financial officials from 19 of the world’s richest countries, agreed to write off 80%, and in 2005–6 Iraq had to restructure about $20 billion of commercial debt on comparable terms. The population of some 27 million (2006 estimate) consists of Arabs, Turks, Kurds and other minority groups. Islam is the predominant religion, with some 60% of the population being Shi‛a Muslim and the remainder largely Sunni Muslim with a small minority of Christians....

Article

T. Kh. Starodub and Jonathan M. Bloom

revised by Sheila S. Blair

Central Asian republic bounded by Russia to the west and north, China to the east and Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan to the south (see fig.). The Caspian Sea forms much of the south-west frontier, and the Aral Sea constitutes part of the border with Uzbekistan. Apart from the Ural Mountains in the north and the Tian shan Range and Altai Mountains in the south-east it is essentially steppe. The population is estimated at 15.3 million (2006). At the end of 1997 the capital was moved from Almaty, close to the border with Kyrgyzstan, to the smaller but more central Astana.

Central and northern Kazakhstan was from the first appearance of man in Central Asia the preserve of nomadic tribes whose herds grazed the steppe; historically it has parallels with southern Siberia (...

Article

Elsbeth Court and Jonathan M. Bloom

revised by Sheila S. Blair

Country in eastern Africa, bordered by Sudan and Ethiopia to the north, by Somalia to the east, by Uganda to the west, by Tanzania to the south-west and by the Indian Ocean to the south-east. The capital is Nairobi. It has a population of nearly 37 million (2007 estimate), of which about 10% are Muslims who live largely along the coast, especially at Mombasa. The national languages are Swahili and English. Kenya owes its diversity of climate and geography to the Rift Valley, which has influenced the population’s distribution and livelihood. Most of the population are engaged in agriculture or pastoralism, and only 20% work in urban areas.

People of four distinct language groups have settled the area, resulting in a strongly localized system of social organization. Among the c. 50 different ethnic groups, the typical political units are clans and age-sets, with only Swahili towns having centralized hierarchies. Despite a long history of foreign influence via Indian Ocean trade, extensive up-country contact with Europeans began only in the late 19th century. A widespread sense of being East African is manifest in the ubiquitous ...

Article

[Arab. Dawlat al-Kuwayt]

Middle Eastern country at the north-western end of the Persian Gulf. The capital, Kuwait City, was traditionally a caravan crossroads town and a port for fishing and pearling. The country has been governed since 1756 by the al-Sabah dynasty. In a treaty of 1899 Britain became responsible for foreign relations, but this treaty was terminated in 1961 and national sovereignty declared. The population of c. 2,080,000 (1990 estimate) is largely Sunni Muslim, with a Shi‛a minority numbering about 20% of the total. The main source of revenue in the country is oil, which was discovered in 1938, and there is a large foreign expatriate workforce. This article deals with art in Kuwait from the 18th to the 20th century. For the earlier history of this region see Arabia, pre-Islamic, and Islamic art.

The earliest record of a settlement in Kuwait City dates to c. 1670. The settlement expanded and in the late 18th century was a prosperous trading centre between the Middle East and India. By ...

Article

T. Kh. Starodub

Republic in Central Asia bounded by Uzbekistan to the west, Kazakhstan to the north, China to the east and Tajikistan to the south (see fig.). Much of the country is taken up by the Tianshan Mountains, while Lake Issyk-Kul occupies a large area in the north-east. The capital, Bishkek, was established as a Kokand fort, Pishpek, in 1825 but is primarily a 20th-century city. The population is estimated at 5.2 million (2005).

The history of Kyrgyzstan reflects its mountainous terrain and its position on the Silk Route. The Silk Route site of Ak-Beshim has been excavated, as has the nearby Islamic site of Burana, with its 10th–11th-century minaret. The term Kirgiz first occurs in 8th-century ad Turkic inscriptions, when the tribe was settled in the upper Yenisei River. The region was ruled by a succession of Turkic tribes: the Türgesh; the Qarluqs; and, from the 10th to the 12th century, the Qarakhanids. After the Mongol invasions of the 13th century, power passed to the Chaghatayids (...

Article

[Arab. Al-Jumhūriyya al-Lubnāniyya]

Country in the Middle East c. 10,400 sq. km in area, with a coastline along the eastern Mediterranean Sea, bordered in the north and east by Syria and in the south by Israel. The limestone Mt Lebanon range runs from north to south, dividing the coastal plain from the fertile Beqa‛a Valley. The modern state, with its capital at Beirut, was created out of the Ottoman province of Lebanon with additional Syrian territory. Formerly with a Christian majority, the population was estimated in 1983 as 34% Christian (the largest sects are Maronite Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Greek Catholic), 33% Shi‛a Muslim, 25% Sunni Muslim and 8% Druze; the total population (1990 estimate) is c. 3,340,000. The division of political power on a sectarian basis, dominated by the Christians, and factional rivalries exacerbated by the Palestinian issue were at the root of the conflicts that erupted into civil war in ...

Article

Libya  

Jonathan M. Bloom

revised by Sheila S. Blair

[Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriyya; Arab. Al-Jamāhīriyyah al-‛Arabiyyah al-Lībiyyah al-Sha‛biyyah al-Ishtirākiyyah al-‛Uẓmā]

Country in North Africa with its capital at Tripoli. Libya has an area of c. 1,760,000 sq. km, extending from the south shore of the Mediterranean Sea into the Sahara; it is bordered by Tunisia and Algeria to the west, Niger and Chad to the south, and Sudan and Egypt to the east. Apart from two narrow coastal strips and the oases of Fezzan in the south-west, most of Libya is desert. The six million people (2007 estimate) are mainly Arabs, with Berber tribes in the west and aboriginal tribes in the Fezzan. The majority are Sunni Muslim; most of the old-established Jewish population and 20th-century Italian settlers left in the decades after World War II. Oil was discovered in the south in 1959, which, together with gas, is Libya’s main export. Oil wealth and the military coup of 1969 created radical change; in the 1980s the economy began to decline and large numbers of foreign workers left or were expelled....

Article

[République Islamique de Mauritanie]

Country on the north-west coast of Africa. It is bordered to the north by Western Sahara, to the north-east by Algeria, to the east and south by Mali, and to the south-west by Senegal. The capital is Nouakchott. Most of Mauritania’s 1,030,700 sq. km is low-lying desert that supports a livestock-based nomadic existence, although there is some arable farming along the fertile banks of the Senegal River. There was much urban migration in the 1980s and 1990s, but still only a small amount of industrial development, the economy continuing to be based on agriculture with some mineral exports.

Mauritania’s early history is marked by the incursion of Berber tribes from the north, which forced the indigenous population of Fulani, Soninke and Berber peoples southwards. In the 15th century nomadic Arab tribes moving south began to eclipse Berber power while the Portuguese, and later the Dutch and the French, also showed interest in the area. The Senegal Treaty of ...

Article

S. J. Vernoit and Jonathan M. Bloom

revised by Sheila S. Blair

[Arab. Al-Mamlaka al-Maghribiyya]

Country in North Africa with its capital at Rabat. Morocco has an area c. 458,700 sq. km with coastlines along the Mediterranean Sea to the north and Atlantic Ocean to the west, bounded in the east by Algeria and in the south by Western Sahara. Geographically Morocco is divided into distinct regions: the populous plains and plateaux of the west; the Rif Mountains along the Mediterranean coast; the Atlas Mountains, which cross the country from south-west to north-east; the pre-Sahara region in the south; and the high plateau in the east. The population of 23,000,000 (1987 estimate) consists of a mixture of Arabs and Berbers, the majority of which is Sunni Muslim; there is also a small Jewish community and some Christians. Arabic is the official language; about half the population speak Berber dialects, and French and Spanish are also spoken. The economy is based on agriculture, fishing and minerals, particularly phosphates. Since the 1970s the tourist industry has been a major source of revenue. Morocco’s Berber–Arab heritage (being the only Arab country that did not come under Ottoman rule), its historical ties with France and Spain (which possesses the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla) and its situation in Africa have produced a distinct cultural character. This article covers the art produced in the country in the 20th century. For its earlier history ...

Article

[Arab. Salṭana ‛Umān; formerly Muscat and Oman]

Independent state in the south-eastern corner of the Arabian peninsula, including several islands, with its capital at Muscat. It is bounded by the Gulf of Oman to the east, the Arabian Sea to the south, Yemen to the south-west, Saudi Arabia to the west and the United Arab Emirates, which separates the main portion of the country from the Musandam Peninsula, to the north. The country has an area of c. 212,380 sq. km and can be divided into four regions: the limestone massif of the Musandam Peninsula extending into the Strait of Hormuz; the arid Hajar Mountains, wadis, oasis towns and fertile coastal plain of northern Oman; the desert, which comprises two-thirds of the country and separates north from south; and southern Oman, Dhofar, a largely mountainous region with a tropical climate, which became more firmly part of Oman in the 19th century. The former name of Muscat and Oman (until ...

Article

Marcella Nesom-Sirhandi, Kamil Khan Mumtaz, S. J. Vernoit and Ahmad Nabi Khan

Country in South Asia (see fig.) sharing its long eastern border with India and its western border with Afghanistan and Iran. The extreme north is dominated by the Himalayas and their offshoots, the Karakoram range in the north-east, which marks the border with China, and the Hindu Kush and Pamirs in the north-west. The Arabian Sea forms the southern border.

Pakistan was created in 1947 when the Indian subcontinent was partitioned on the eve of independence from British colonial rule. It comprised two parts, West Pakistan and East Pakistan, separated by 1600 km of Indian territory. In 1971 East Pakistan became Bangladesh, People’s Republic of. This survey focuses mainly on the arts produced since 1947. For earlier periods, see under Indian subcontinent.

Marcella Nesom-Sirhandi

Pakistan is a country of diverse geography and varied peoples. Some 97% of its population of 156.7 million (...

Article

Jonathan M. Bloom

revised by Sheila S. Blair

[Arab. Dawlat Qaṭar]

Country in the Persian/Arabian Gulf comprising the Qatar peninsula and a few small islands, with its capital at Doha. The semi-desert, limestone peninsula extends c. 180 km north from mainland Arabia, with which it has long-standing links and rivalry, as it has with nearby Bahrain and Iran. The indigenous population (c. 850,000; 2007 estimate) is mainly Sunni Muslim, and includes many people originally from Iran and East Africa. There is also a large expatriate workforce. Evidence for occupation exists from about the 8th millennium bc, and Qatar was probably involved in the flourishing Gulf trade in the 3rd millennium bc and certainly in the medieval Islamic period, when the pearling industry flourished. European domination in the Gulf from the early 16th century led to the decline of the old trading centres, and the origins of the present state can be traced to the settlement of certain tribes in the 1730s. The Ottomans arrived in ...

Article

[Arab. Al-Mamlaka al-‛Arabiyya al-Sa‛ūdiyya]

Country occupying the greater part of the Arabian peninsula, with its capital at Riyadh. It has an area of c. 2,250,000 sq. km, extending from the Red Sea to the Gulf, and has borders in the north with Jordan, Iraq and Kuwait; in the east with Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman; and in the south with Yemen. In the west of the country is the Hijaz, a narrow coastal plain rising to an escarpment that extends the length of the Red Sea and contains the cities of Mecca, Medina and Jiddah; it is bordered in the south by the hilly plateau of the ‛Asir. East of the Hijaz, desert encircles the Tuwayq escarpment and the plateau of the Najd where the capital is situated; in the north lies the Nafud Desert; in the south the sand dunes of the Dahna extend into the Rub‛ al-Khali, a sand desert that covers a quarter of the kingdom. The indigenous population of ...