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Article

Marianne Barrucand

[‛Alawī; Filālī]

Islamic dynasty and rulers of Morocco since 1631. Like their predecessors the Sa‛dis, the ‛Alawis are sharīfs (descendants of the Prophet Muhammad), and both dynasties are sometimes classed together as the ‘Sharifs of Morocco’. From a base in the Tafilalt region of south-east Morocco, the ‛Alawi family was able to overcome the centrifugal forces exerted by the Berber tribes who had destroyed the Sa‛di state in the first half of the 17th century. To restore political authority and territorial integrity, Mawlay Isma‛il (reg 1672–1727) added a new black slave corps to the traditional tribal army. Although royal power was weak during the 19th century and the early 20th, when the French and Spanish established protectorates, the ‛Alawis’ power was fully restored after independence from the French in 1956.

‛Alawi building activities (see Islamic art, §II, 7(v)) were concentrated in the four cities that have served as their capitals: Fez and Marrakesh at various times from ...

Article

S. J. Vernoit

[Arab. Al-fann wa’l-ḥurriyya]

Egyptian group of Surrealist writers, artists and intellectuals founded on 9 January 1939 by the poet Georges Hunain (1914–73). The group included the Egyptian painters Ramsis Yunan (1914–66), Fu’ad Kamil (1919–73) and Kamil al-Talamsani (1917–72). Inspired by the work of André Breton, whom Hunain met in Paris in 1936, the aim of the group was to defend freedom in art by stressing the liberating role of the individual imagination. On 22 December 1938 Hunain and his colleagues signed a manifesto entitled ‘Vive l’Art Dégénéré’, which protested against Fascism, particularly Hitler’s claim that modern art was degenerate. The manifesto was followed by further writings, conferences and debates. Artists from the group exhibited work in June 1939 at the premises of Art and Freedom at 28 Shari‛ al-Madabigh in Cairo. In January 1940 the magazine al-Ta ṭawwur was launched, which presented ideas behind modern art to an Egyptian audience. This was followed in ...

Article

Kirk Ambrose

(b Moscow, May 7, 1903; d Paris, Jan 25, 1988).

Lithuanian art historian, scholar of folklore and Egyptology, and diplomat of Russian birth. Son of the celebrated Lithuanian Symbolist poet of the same name, Jurgis Baltrušaitis II studied under Henri(-Joseph) Focillon at the Sorbonne and earned the PhD in 1931. The concerns of his mentor are evident in La stylistique ornementale dans la sculpture romane (1931), which reprises and extends arguments for the ‘law of the frame’ in Romanesque sculpture. Accordingly, the shapes of architectural members, such as capitals and tympana, determined the articulation of sculptural forms. This theory could account for the genesis of a wide array of monumental carvings, from foliate capitals to narrative reliefs, but ultimately it had a rather limited impact on the field of Romanesque sculptural studies. In a scathing critique, Schapiro argued that Baltrušaitis’s book—and by implication Focillon’s methods—robbed Romanesque sculptors of agency and neglected the religious and expressive meanings of this art form....

Article

Mark Dike DeLancey

[Jenne] [Friday Mosque]

Malian mosque that was built in 1906–7 in the Sudanese style under the direction of master mason Ismaïla Traoré. Local historical traditions state that a mosque was first built on this site in the 12th century, replacing the palace of Djenné’s ruler Koi Konboro after he converted to Islam. By the turn of the 20th century the mosque was in ruins.

The mosque’s heavy earthen walls (see fig.) are inset with wooden timbers that act as scaffolding for replastering, while numerous pilasters create a sense of verticality. The horizontal emphasis of the eastern qibla wall is broken by three huge towers, creating a rhythmic alternation of reserved horizontal wall surfaces and projecting vertical towers. Towers in the centre of the north and south walls provide rooftop access for the call to prayer via internal staircases. A monumental entrance on the north side is composed of three projecting pillars enclosing two deep recesses. Seven projections at the top of the portal echo the tops of the pilasters extending beyond the roofline of the mosque walls....

Article

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

(b. Tripoli, Libya, 1945).

Libyan painter. He returned to Libya in 1970 after graduating from the Plymouth School of Architecture and Design in England. In 1974 he was appointed consultant to the Festival of Islam in London, and in 1981 he settled in England. He typically uses individual letter forms based on the maghribī style of script typical of North Africa, setting one or two large letters against a richly textured abstract ground with accompanying excerpts from Arabic and world literature that address social and moral issues. His works have been exhibited in more than 60 solo and group exhibitions and can be found in many major museums. Chairman of Muslim Cultural Heritage Center in London, he has also been involved with several other cultural and intellectual institutions there.

A. O. Ermes: Ali Omar Ermes: Art and Ideas: Works on Paper (exh. cat., Oxford, Ashmolean, 1992)A. O. Ermeswith S. Rizvi: Reaching Out: Conversations on Islamic Art with Ali Omar Ermes...

Article

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 ...

Article

Hasan-Uddin Khan and Jonathan M. Bloom

revised by 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 ...

Article

S. J. Vernoit

(Andrew)

(b Cairo, Oct 28, 1892; d London, May 26, 1969).

Merchant banker and collector. He was the elder son of Sir Victor Harari Pasha, a leading member of the Anglo-Jewish community in Egypt, and was educated at Lausanne and Pembroke College, Cambridge. On returning to Egypt, he became a junior officer in the Palestine campaign of Edmund Allenby and then finance officer to Ronalds Storrs, the military governor of Jerusalem. In 1920 he served under Herbert Samuel as director of the Department of Commerce and Trade in the British Mandate, but returned to Egypt in 1925 to help in the family business. With the outbreak of World War II, he became economic adviser to GHQ Middle East, and then served under Peter Ritchie-Calder, the director of plans in the Department of Political Warfare in London. After the war, he stayed in London as managing director of the merchant bank S. Japhet & Co., and when it was taken over he joined the board of the Charterhouse group. From the 1920s he was interested in Islamic metalwork, becoming an authority on the subject and contributing a chapter to the ...

Article

Oleg Grabar

(b Cairo, July 1908; d Baghdad, March 1957).

Egyptian historian. He was educated at the University of Cairo and in Paris, where he obtained his doctorate in 1934 with a thesis on the history and culture of Egypt in the 9th century ad. In Cairo he moved between the university—where he taught history—the Department of Antiquities and the Museum of Arab (later Islamic) Art, where he became director in 1951. After the 1952 revolution in Egypt, he went to Iraq, where he chaired the Department of Antiquities and Civilization at Baghdad University. His publications illustrate the multiple concerns of his generation, born in the ‘Third World’ and trained in the West to educate youth in the values of their cultural past through the medium of Western techniques and institutions. His scholarly work is exemplified by his study on the treasures of the Fatimid dynasty of Egypt (reg 969–1171). He also tried to meet the traditional opposition to the visual arts by writing on the specific theological issues involved and showing how the Islamic tradition never gave up representation. His third concern was pedagogical, and he wrote mostly in Arabic to reach a mass of people untouched by Western scholarship. His last major work was an atlas of Islamic painting and decorative arts, designed to make Islamic art known to those whose cultural heritage it is....

Article

[Isyākhim, M’hammad]

(b Djennad, nr Azzefoun, 1928; d Algiers, Dec 1, 1985).

Algerian painter. Wounded by a home-made bomb in 1943, his left arm was amputated and he was hospitalized for two years. From 1947 to 1951 he studied first at the Société des Beaux-Arts and then at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Algiers, while simultaneously training in miniature painting with Omar Racim (1883–1958). In 1953 he continued his studies at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he worked in the painting atelier of Raymond Legueult (1898–1978), graduating in 1958. While in Paris, Issiakhem witnessed the development of Abstract Expressionism and other artistic styles, which he quickly adopted. A pioneer of modern Algerian art, he was one of the founders of the Algerian National Union of Plastic Arts in 1963 and held exhibitions in Algeria and abroad. Attracted by left-wing ideas, he travelled to Vietnam in 1972 and Moscow in 1978. In his work, male figures are surrounded by forms, signs and blotches in sombre colours, while his female figures express drama and silent suffering (e.g. ...

Article

Oleg Grabar

(b 1876; d 1962).

French historian. He was trained as a painter and an engraver. A visit to his brother, William, who was director of a school in Algeria, led Georges to the study of Arabic, a thesis on the Berbers in North Africa and a life devoted to Islamic art in North Africa. He was professor at the University of Algiers (1919–44). Marçais was a prolific writer on subjects ranging from history to ethnography and technology, but the main thrust of his work was architecture, and L’Architecture musulmane d’occident remains the standard work on the subject. Beyond the clarity of expression that characterizes most of his work, his importance lies in the presence of two ideologically significant, although not fully expressed, themes. One is the nurturing of a western Islamic (Spanish and North African) artistic and cultural regionalism with a Roman substratum, which he set up in opposition to a supposed pan-Islamic cultural unity centred on the Middle East. As a consequence, Marçais helped to develop local as well as national museums as a focus for local pride in art. The second is the organization of the history of Islamic art by dynasties, so that stylistic variations are more clearly uncovered than through the study of constant diachronic cultural forms. This conception lessens the power and significance of any one monument, but lets readers and visitors feel that what they see is deeply wedded to the land that surrounds it and to the people and events that made it. In addition to books and surveys of architecture, Marçais wrote a number of articles dealing with the central questions of Islamic art such as urbanism, the representation of living beings and the arabesque. With acuity and precision, he drew attention to what is essential in a work of art and what features are peculiar to Islamic art....

Article

S. J. Vernoit

(b Asilah, Nov 22, 1936).

Moroccan painter and graphic artist. He studied art in Morocco at the Escuela Preparatoria de Bellas Artes in Tétouan between 1953 and 1955, then in Seville and Madrid, as well as at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome, at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and at Columbia University, NY. After the independence of Morocco in 1956 its painters began to search for a national and cultural identity, and Melehi was among the leaders of this movement. He taught at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Casablanca from 1964 to 1969, along with fellow Moroccan artists Farid Belkahia and Mohamed Chebaa (b 1935).

As one of the ‘Casablanca Group’ Melehi objected to the foreign monopoly of artistic thought in Morocco, and organized the first exhibition of this group in 1965. He also organized the Exposition manifeste in the Jama‛ al-Fna Square in Marrakesh in 1969. Along with 39 other Moroccan painters, such as Belkahia, Chebaa, Moustapha Hafid (...

Article

S. J. Vernoit

[Mukhtār, Maḥmūd; Moukhtar, Mahmoud]

(b Tanyra, May 10, 1891; d Cairo, March 27, 1934).

Egyptian sculptor. He studied at the School of Fine Arts, Cairo, and after graduating was sent in 1911 by the founder of the School, Prince Yusuf Kamal, to study sculpture at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris. Although Mukhtar was at ease in France, and regularly exhibited at the Salon des Artistes Français, his aim increasingly was to search for an Egyptian identity in art. In order to re-establish an Egyptian style in monumental sculpture he developed a ‘neo-pharaonic’ style, and became the first Egyptian artist to use granite since Ancient Egyptian times. His massive pink granite statue Egyptian Awakening (1919–28), the most official of his works, was placed at the gateway to Cairo University. It shows a sphinx about to rise, and a woman unveiling.

During the 1920s Mukhtar became an influential figure in modern Egyptian art, and prominent in the group La Chimère, founded in 1927, which included the painters Raghib Ayyad (...

Article

[Muḥammad]

(b Alexandria, 1888; d Cairo, 1956).

Egyptian painter. He was educated at the Université de Lyon in France, where he studied law, and also at the School of Fine Arts, Cairo, and at Giverny under Monet. During the 1920s he worked for the Egyptian diplomatic service at embassies abroad, but increasingly devoted himself to painting, developing an Impressionist style and in 1927 becoming a member of a group of artists in Cairo called La Chimère, which included the sculptor Mahmud Mukhtar, and the painters Mahmud Said and Raghib Ayyad (1892–1982). Among his paintings of this period was the canvas mural The Village (1928; Alexandria, Mus. F.A. & Cult. Cent.). In 1930, not long after a diplomatic mission in Brazil, he left for Abyssinia [now Ethiopia], where he spent a year at the embassy in Addis Ababa. He studied the landscape of the country and painted portraits of Emperor Haile Selassie I (reg...

Article

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

[Arab. taṣwīr, fūtūgrāfiyā ; Ottoman Turk. taṣwīr ; Mod. Turk. fotoğrafçilik ; Pers. ‛akkāsī, fūtūghirāfī

Term used to describe the technique of producing an image by the action of light on a chemically prepared material. Although used privately in France and England as early as 1833, the process was announced publicly only in 1839.

In January 1839 François Arago (1786–1853), a member of the Académie des Sciences, suggested that among the advantages the new medium presented was that the millions of hieroglyphs covering the monuments of Thebes, Memphis and Karnak could be copied by a single man rather than by scores of draftsmen, and in 1846 the English photographer and scientist William Henry Fox Talbot (1800–77) published a pamphlet with three prints of hieroglyphics for distribution among ar-chaeologists and Orientalists.

The Ottoman press reported the discovery of photography as early October 1839, and European colonial involvement in the Islamic lands of North Africa and West Asia ensured that photography was immediately brought there: for example, in ...

Article

Noémie Goldman and Kim Oosterlinck

Term for the return of lost or looted cultural objects to their country of origin, former owners, or their heirs. The loss of the object may happen in a variety of contexts (armed conflicts, war, colonialism, imperialism, or genocide), and the nature of the looted cultural objects may also vary, ranging from artworks, such as paintings and sculptures, to human remains, books, manuscripts, and religious artefacts. An essential part of the process of restitution is the seemingly unavoidable conflict around the transfer of the objects in question from the current to the former owners. Ownership disputes of this nature raise legal, ethical, and diplomatic issues. The heightened tensions in the process arise because the looting of cultural objects challenges, if not breaks down, relationships between peoples, territories, cultures, and heritages.

The history of plundering and art imperialism may be traced back to ancient times. Looting has been documented in many instances from the sack by the Romans of the Etruscan city of Veii in ...

Article

[Ṣalaḥī, Ibrāhīm al-]

(b Omdurman, 1930).

Sudanese painter. After studying at the School of Design at Gordon Memorial College in Khartoum (1948–51), he worked as an art teacher at Wadi Seidna Secondary School near Omdurman. In 1954 he was sent on a scholarship to the Slade School of Fine Art in London, and while in Europe he visited Florence to enhance his knowledge of Renaissance art. In 1957 he returned to Sudan and became head of the Painting Department at the College of Fine and Applied Art in Khartoum. In 1962 he was sent by UNESCO on a tour to the USA, South America, Paris and London. After returning to Sudan, he searched for a Sudanese artistic identity by travelling throughout the country recording local architecture and designs used in the decoration of such items as utensils and prayer rugs. He also explored Coptic manuscripts, trying to discover the arts of African Sudan through them. During this same period he became fascinated by the ingenuity of Islamic art. His previous knowledge of Coptic manuscripts led him to experiment with Arabic calligraphy, which he saw as both a means of communication and a pure aesthetic form. In the 1950s he was one of the first Arab artists to include Arabic calligraphy and signs in his paintings. After political imprisonment in his country he lived in exile in England and Qatar, where he was an adviser on communications to the Emir. Working in all media, he defined his Arab–African heritage by synthesizing Arabic calligraphy with African forms. His work is in collections in New York (Met.; MOMA), Melbourne (N.G. Victoria), Newcastle, NSW (Reg. A.G.) and Berlin (Neue N.G.)....

Article

Robin Holmes

(b Paris, April 1, 1963).

French photographer, video artist, and installation artist of Algerian descent, active in the UK. Born in Paris in 1963, Zineb Sedira relocated to England in 1986. In 1995 she earned a BA in critical fine art practice with a focus on post-colonial studies at Central Saint Martins School of Art. She finished an MFA in Media at the Slade School of Art in 1997 and conducted research studies at the Royal College of Art until 2003. Through the use of self-portraiture, family narrative, and images of the Mediterranean, her work has addressed ethnic, religious, and gender identities as well as issues of stereotype, displacement, and migration. She draws on her Algerian heritage in much of her work, evoking North Africa through the integration of traditional Islamic forms and motifs into her installations. In her 1997 work Quatre générations de femmes, Sedira incorporated repeated images of her mother, daughter, and herself into traditional Islamic tile patterns (...

Article

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

(b. Rochefort-sur-Mer, Nov 15, 1923).

French scholar of Islamic art. After earning degrees in classical Arabic (1946) and Islamic art (1948) in Paris, she was associated with the French institute in Damascus from 1949 to 1954, and traveled to Turkey, Egypt and Afghanistan. She returned to Paris, where she wrote her thesis at the Ecole Practique des Hautes Etudes (1957) and taught there and at the Sorbonne, where she became vice-president (1982–9). She married to Dominique Sourdel, the eminent French historian of Islam, with whom she often collaborated on synthetic studies of Islamic civilization. Her own specialty is the study of Arabic epigraphy, a field that she studied with Jean Sauvaget , and she meticulously analyzed the inscriptions on many major monuments from Syria to Afghanistan.

J. Sourdel-Thomine: Epitaphe coufiques de Bab Saghir, iv of Les monuments Ayyoubides de Damas (Paris, 1950) J. Sourdel-Thomine: “Deux minarets d’époque seljoukide en Afghanistan,” ...

Article

Mark Dike DeLancey

Term used to refer to architecture from the western Sudan, generally understood as encompassing Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and northern regions of Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, and Benin. The term ‘Sudanic’ is derived from the Arabic phrase ‘Bilad al-Sudan’, or ‘Land of the Blacks’, used historically to denote sub-Saharan Africa. References to Sudanic architecture were first employed in the late 19th century, particularly by French colonial administrators and adventurers, to refer to the architecture of French West Africa. These commentators frequently likened the architecture of the region to that of Egypt, thereby endowing the French colony with a degree of prestige, particularly in the wake of waves of Egyptomania that washed across Europe in the 19th century.

Perhaps more controversial are the much more common references to the Sudanese style of architecture. While focused primarily in the regions referenced above, this interpretation may also incorporate works from surrounding regions such as Guinea, Senegal, and Nigeria. What exactly constitutes the Sudanese style has been the subject of extensive debate. The ...