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Article

J. M. Rogers

[Muh‛ammad ibn al-Zayn; Ibn al-Zayn]

(fl early 14th century).

Arab metalworker. He is known from signatures on two undated inlaid wares, the Baptistère de St Louis (Paris, Louvre, LP 16, signed in six places) and the Vasselot Bowl (Paris, Louvre, MAO 331, signed once). His style is characterized by bold compositions of large figures encrusted with silver plaques on which details are elaborately chased. His repertory develops themes characteristic of later 13th-century metalwork from Mosul (see Islamic art, §IV, 3(ii) and (iii))—mounted or enthroned rulers, bands of running or prowling animals, an elaborate Nilotic composition, courtiers bearing insignia of office, and battle scenes on scroll grounds with strikingly naturalistic fauna. His work is marked by a realism of facial expression, in which Turco-Mongolian physiognomy, dress, headgear and even coiffure are prominent, and a vigour of movement, gesture or stance that enlivens and transforms even the running animals and rows of standing courtiers, some in Frankish costume. The technique and style of these pieces allow their attribution to the Bahri Mamluk period in Egypt and Syria (...

Article

‛Ali  

S. J. Vernoit

[‛Alī; Ḥusayn ‛Alī]

(fl c. 1800–20).

Persian enamel painter. All of his work is associated with the patronage of the Qajar monarch Fath ‛Ali Shah (reg 1797–1834). ‛Ali signed his work with the title ghulām khānazād (‘slave born in the household’) signifying ‘artist in the royal service’. A jewelled nephrite dish (Vienna, Ksthist. Mus., Samml. Plastik & Kstgew., M3223) presented in 1819 by the Persian ambassador Abu’l-Hassan Khan to the Austrian emperor Francis I (reg 1792–1835) has a central gold plaque enamelled with a full-length portrait of Fath ‛Ali Shah (dated 1817–18), inspired by Mihr ‛Alis life-size oil portrait (Tehran, Nigaristan Mus.). Other objects enamelled by ‛Ali include an oval mirror with a carved jade handle (Tehran, Bank Markazi, Crown Jewels Col.); on the back is an enamel portrait of Fath ‛Ali Shah seated within a floral frame, probably the finest painted enamel in the collection (see Islamic art, §viii, 3...

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

Baqir  

[Bāqir; Muhammad Baqir; Muḥammad Bāqir]

(fl c. 1800–30).

Persian painter in enamels. All of his known work was made for the Qajar monarch Fath ‛Ali Shah (reg 1797–1834). Like ‛Ali, he signed his work with the title ghulām khānazād (‘slave born in the household’), signifying ‘artist in the royal service’. Baqir painted a fine gold bowl and cover, saucer and spoon, which is enamelled with astrological figures and a poetic dedication to Fath ‛Ali Shah (priv. col., see Robinson, 1991, fig.). Several other objects enamelled by Baqir, such as an oval snuff-box with a portrait of the seated King and a teapot with busts of Fath ‛Ali Shah and floral swags and a dedication to the King, are part of the Iranian crown jewels (Tehran, Bank Markazi, Crown Jewels Col.). His style is similar to that of ‛Ali and is notable for its delicate execution and brilliant colour (see Islamic art, §VIII, 3). Baqir is probably the Muhammad Baqir who, together with ...

Article

[Mehmed-i Bosna]

(fl Istanbul, 1588–1605).

Ottoman Turkish goldsmith. As one of the craftsmen attached to the Ottoman court, he produced a number of elaborate pieces that are either signed by him or can be attributed to him on stylistic grounds. The latter group includes the crown presented by Sultan Ahmed I to his vassal Stephen Bocskay of Transylvania in ...

Article

I. G. Bango Torviso

[Sp. mozárabe]

Term traditionally used to describe the art of Christians living in the areas of the Iberian peninsula ruled by Muslims in the 10th and 11th centuries. The Castilian word derives from the Arabic musta‛rib (‘Arabized’) and is to be contrasted with Mudéjar, the term used to describe the art of Islamic inspiration produced for non-Muslim patrons in the areas of the Iberian peninsula reconquered by Christians between 1085 and the 16th century. Very few surviving works of art fit this strict definition of Mozarabic art, and it is difficult to characterize them. The only substantial building is the ruined three-aisled basilica at Mesas de Villaverde (Málaga; often identified as ‘Bobastro’), which preserves its rock-cut foundations and walls (see Spain §II 2.). The two illuminated manuscripts surviving from this period are quite different in style. The Biblia Hispalense (Madrid, Bib. N., Cod. Vit. 13–1), copied c. 900 at or near Seville by or for Bishop ...

Article

Gordon Campbell

[Rupert’s metal]

Alloy of about three parts of copper and one of zinc, in colour resembling gold. It was made in England from the 17th century, and used mostly for inexpensive jewellery. It is also known as Prince Rupert’s metal and Rupert’s metal. In the Islamic world, it is known as tombak...

Article

In its most general sense, spolia (pl., from Lat. spolium: ‘plunder’) denotes all artifacts re-employed in secondary contexts, from building blocks reused in a wall to pagan gems mounted on a Christian reliquary. It is a matter of debate whether this broad application of the term is justified, or whether it should be restricted to the relatively small subset of reused objects that were taken or ‘stripped’ (like spoils) from their original context, rather than found, purchased, inherited or otherwise acquired by non-violent means. It is likewise debated when the use of spolia should be considered meaningful, if at all. Arnold Esch defined five possible motives for using spolia: convenience, profanation, Christianization, political legitimation and aesthetic attraction. Michael Greenhalgh has argued for reducing the motives to three (at least with regard to marble): pragmatism, aesthetics and ideology; while Finbarr Barry Flood cautioned against reductive interpretations generated by any taxonomy, insisting that reused objects are mutable in meaning and capable of multiple interpretations during their life cycle....

Article

Sylvia Auld

Term applied to a large group of 15th- and 16th-century metal wares, primarily in European collections, once attributed to Muslim craftsmen working in Venice. The objects concerned—they include covered bowls with a rounded base or cylindrical form, spherical incense burners, candlesticks, buckets and salvers—are domestic in character. Made of brass (or bronze), they are inlaid with geometric or arabesque motifs in silver, with occasional traces of gold and frequent additions of a black compound, the widely differing designs being organized concentrically, centrifugally or centripetally. The term is sometimes loosely applied to objects decorated with figural ornament and Western coats of arms. None of the objects is dated, although a salver in Vienna (Mus. Angewandte Kst, GO.81) bears the date 1550 and the signature of Nicolo Rugina Greco da Corfu incised on the back; this inscription was probably added after the salver had been imported into the West. A number of pieces are signed by the masters ...