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Article

Katrin Kogman-Appel

Hebrew Bible (Jerusalem, National.. Library of Israel., MS. Heb 4°790, and a single page in Toledo, El Transito Synagogue and Sephardic Museum), copied c. 1260, perhaps in Toledo by Menachem ben Abraham ibn Malikh for Isaac bar Abraham Hadad, both members of known and documented Toledan families. At some later stage further decorations were added, apparently in Burgos. The Damascus Keter is an outstanding exemplar out of approximately 120 decorated Bibles from Iberia and belongs to a group of three very similar codices from the middle of the 13th century, produced in Toledo. It thus represents a rich tradition of Jewish art flourishing between the 13th and the 15th centuries. These Bibles were used either by scholars for private study, or for biblical readings during synagogue services.

Typical of numerous Bibles from the Middle East and the Iberian Peninsula, the decoration consists of numerous carpet pages executed in Micrography and enriched by painted embellishments. This is a technique typically used in Hebrew decorated books and harks back to Middle Eastern manuscripts of the 10th century. Apart from the carpet pages, the Damascus ...

Article

Minaret  

Jonathan M. Bloom

Tower attached to a mosque from which the muezzin gives the call to prayer (Arab. adhān). The English term ‘minaret’ derives (via French) from the Turkish minare, which itself derives from the Arabic manāra, ‘a place or thing that gives light’ (cf. Heb. menorah). Medieval Arabic had other terms for the tower attached to the mosque: manār, miاdhana and ṣawma‛a. Eventually all these terms became synonymous, but it seems that at first they had limited geographical currency or referred to different functional types.

With the possible exception of the dome, the minaret is the most distinctive external feature of Islamic architecture, giving a characteristic ‘Islamic’ aspect to the Taj Mahal and to the skylines of Cairo and Istanbul (see Islamic art, §II). Minarets vary in form and materials of construction, from the square towers of North Africa and Spain, through the multi-storey stone spires of Egypt, the pencil-thin stone shafts of Ottoman Turkey and the cylindrical brick towers of Iran, to the monumental combinations of flanged octagonal and cylindrical shafts erected in medieval Afghanistan and India. While the minaret is a common feature of Islamic religious architecture, it is, however, neither necessary nor ubiquitous: some regions of the Islamic world, for example East Africa, Kashmir and Bengal, eschewed minarets at certain times....

Article

Minbar  

[Arab.; Turk. minber]

Pulpit in a mosque, often made of wood or stone. The largest, indeed sometimes the only piece of furniture in a mosque, the minbar derived from the judge’s seat in pre-Islamic Arabia. The first minbar in Islam (c. ad 628–31) is reported to have been the wooden chair with two steps ordered for the mosque of Medina by the prophet Muhammad; from it he preached and led prayers. After Muhammad’s death in 632 it became customary for a new caliph to receive homage while seated on this minbar. The Umayyad caliph Mu‛awiya (reg 661–80) raised the Prophet’s minbar on a six-stepped platform in 670. As a sign of legitimate authority, minbars were used by the Umayyad caliphs (reg 661–750) and their governors as pulpits from which to make important announcements as well as for delivering the Friday sermon. It became customary for the name of the reigning sovereign to be mentioned in the sermon (Arab. ...

Article

Mosque  

[Arab. masjid]

Muslim house of prayer. Islam requires no physical structure for valid prayer, which may be performed anywhere, and a minimal masjid (‘place of prostration’) may consist only of lines marked on the ground, but a building constructed especially for the purpose is preferred, in particular for congregational prayer at Friday noon, the principal weekly service. Such a building may be called a masjid or a jāmi (Turk. cami), from masjid al-jāmi‛ (Pers. masjid-i jāmi‛; Urdu jāmi‛ masjid), meaning ‘congregational mosque’. This term is often rendered in English as ‘great mosque’, or ‘Friday mosque’, a translation of masjid-i juma‛, a Persian variant. The word masjid may also be applied to any place where prayer is appropriate, for example the Masjid al-Haram, the enclosed area around the Ka‛ba in Mecca. Large buildings constructed for other religious purposes, such as madrasas and khānaqāhs, usually contain prayer-halls arranged like free-standing mosques. In cities throughout the Islamic world, the daily needs of the residents of particular quarters have been served by small mosques; they are often reduced versions of the major types of mosque that were most popular locally at the time of their construction. This article is concerned primarily with major structures built specifically for congregational prayer. For further bibliography and information on mosques in other types of buildings, ...

Article

Gordon Campbell

Ornamental glass shade for an oil lamp, designed to be hung in a mosque. It is usually shaped like a vase, with a bulbous body, a flared neck, a flat base, and applied glass loops from which it was suspended. The form emerged in late 13th-century Syria, and many of the finest examples come from Syria and Egypt. From the 16th century mosque lamps were made in Europe (notably Venice) and exported to the Islamic world.

The inscriptions on mosque lamps generally mention the donor and include the opening lines of the ‘Verse of Light’ in the Qur'an (24.35), which likens God, the light of the heavens and the earth, to a glass lamp. Over a dozen mosque lamps from the three reigns of al-Nasir Muhammad (reg 1294–1340 with interruptions) represent the summit of 14th-century enamelled glass. A band of tall script at the neck with blue lettering on a gilded ground decorated with polychrome scrolls, leaves and buds contrasts with another band on the body inscribed with gold letters on a blue ground with scattered gold blossoms. At least 50 lamps inscribed with the Light Verse and the name of Hasan (...

Article

Qum  

Massumeh Farhad

[Qumm; Qom; Kum]

Major shrine centre in central Iran. Sasanian remains in the vicinity suggest that the site may have been occupied in pre-Islamic times, but most medieval geographers and historians claimed that it was founded after the Muslim conquest in the 7th century ad. By 712–13 it had become a bastion for persecuted Shi‛ites, and throughout the medieval period it attracted members of the more extreme Shi‛ite sects. Under the Saljuqs (reg 1038–1194) Qum was celebrated for its madrasas, and it is still the most important centre of Shi‛ite theological studies in Iran.

Its reputation as a holy city is linked to the presence of the tomb of Fatima al-Ma‛suma, the sister of the eighth Shi‛ite imam, Riza. In 816–17, while en route to visit her brother at Tus in north-eastern Iran, she fell ill at Saveh, a Sunni town, and asked to be taken to nearby Qum, where she died and was buried. Her tomb acquired particular importance under the Safavid dynasty (...

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....