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Article

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 ...

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Article

[Khwāja ‛Abd al-Ḥayy]

(fl c. 1374; d Samarkand, 1405).

Illustrator and painter. According to the Safavid chronicler Dust Muhammad, ‛Abd al-Hayy trained under Shams al-Din at Baghdad during the reign of the Jalayirid sultan Uways I (reg 1356–74) and became the leading painter under his son Ahmad (reg 1382–1410), who was also ‛Abd al-Hayy’s pupil. When Timur took Baghdad, ‛Abd al-Hayy was sent to Samarkand, either in 1393 or in 1401, where he spent the rest of his life. He seems to have specialized in monochrome ink drawings: Dust Muhammad recorded that ‛Abd al-Hayy’s pupil, Ahmad Jalayir, contributed a black-and-white drawing to a manuscript of the Abūsa‛īdnāma (‘Book of Abu Sa‛id’), and a number of examples attributed to the late 14th century and preserved in various albums (e.g. Berlin, Staatsbib. Preuss. Kultbes., Orientabt. Diez A. 70–73) bear the notation that they were copied from ‛Abd al-Hayy’s drawings by Muhammad ibn Mahmud Shah Khayyam. In his album (Istanbul, Topkapı Pal. Lib., H. ...

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Sheila S. Blair

[ Pīr Yaḥyā ibn Naṣr al-Ṣūfī al-Jamālī ]

( fl 1330–51).

Ilkhanid Calligrapher . According to the Safavid chronicler Qazi Ahmad, Yahya studied calligraphy with Mubarakshah ibn Qutb Tabrizi ( fl c. 1323), one of six pupils of Yaqut al-Musta‛simi ( see also Islamic art, §III, 2(iii)(c) ). Yahya was a mystic, hence his epithet al-Sufi, and, after working for the warlord Amir Chupan, he moved to the court of the Injuid ruler of Shiraz, Jamal al-Din Abu Ishaq (reg 1343–54), hence his epithet al-Jamali. He penned several manuscripts of the Koran, including small, single-volume copies (1338–9, Istanbul, Mus. Turk. & Islam. A., MS. K 430; 1339–40, Dublin, Chester Beatty Lib., MS. 1475) and a large, 30-volume copy (4 vols, 1344–6; Shiraz, Pars Mus., MS. 456). The latter manuscript was probably commissioned by Abu Ishaq’s mother, Tashi-khatun, who bequeathed it to the Shah Chiragh Mosque at Shiraz. Each folio has five lines of majestic mu ḥaqqaq script, although the illumination by ...

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[Aḥmad ibn al-Shaykh al-Suhrawardī al-Bakrī]

(b Baghdad; fl 1302–28).

Calligrapher. He came from a well-known family of mystics and was probably the grandson of the Sufi master Shihab al-Din Abu Hafs ‛Umar al-Suhrawardi (1145–1234). He was often called Shaykhzada (‘Son of the shaykh’). Ahmad was one of the six disciples of Yaqut al-Musta‛simi (see also Islamic art, §III, 2(iii)) and is said to have transcribed the Koran 33 times. He penned several small, single-volume copies (e.g. 1301–2, Dublin, Chester Beatty Lib., MS. 1467; 1318, Istanbul, Mus. Turk. & Islam. A., MS. 486), but the most famous is a large 30-volume manuscript (dispersed, Tehran, N. Mus.; Istanbul, Topkapı Pal. Lib.; Dublin, Chester Beatty Lib.; New York, Met.; see fig.) copied at Baghdad between 1302 and 1308 and illuminated by Muhammad ibn Aybak ibn ‛Abdallah. Although no patron is mentioned, the stunning size of the manuscript (500×350 mm) suggests that it was probably produced under royal auspices. Each folio has five lines of majestic ...

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 (...

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Sophie Page

Astrology is the art of predicting events on earth as well as human character and disposition from the movements of the planets and fixed stars. Medieval astrology encompassed both general concepts of celestial influence, and the technical art of making predictions with horoscopes, symbolic maps of the heavens at particular moments and places constructed from astronomical information. The scientific foundations of the art were developed in ancient Greece, largely lost in early medieval Europe and recovered by the Latin West from Arabic sources in the 12th and 13th centuries. Late medieval astrological images were successfully Christianized and were adapted to particular contexts, acquired local meanings and changed over time.

Astrology developed into a scientific branch of learning in ancient Greece, but because of the opposition of the Church Fathers it was transmitted to early medieval Europe in only fragmentary form in technically unsophisticated textbooks and popular divinatory genres. Literary and scientific texts provided more general ideas about the nature and attributes of the planets which were influential on later iconography. The first significant astrological images appear in 11th-century illustrated astronomical texts (e.g. London, BL, Cotton MS. Tiberius BV), which were acquired and produced by monasteries to aid with time-keeping and the construction of the Christian calendar....

Article

In the 20th century, discussion of the relationship between Byzantine art and the art of the Latin West evolved in tandem with scholarship on Byzantine art itself. Identified as the religious imagery and visual and material culture of the Greek Orthodox Empire based at Constantinople between ad 330 and 1453, studies of Byzantine art often encompassed Post-Byzantine art and that of culturally allied states such as Armenian Cilicia, Macedonia, and portions of Italy. As such fields as Palaiologan family manuscripts and wall paintings, Armenian manuscripts, and Crusader manuscripts and icons emerged, scholars identified new intersections between Western medieval and Byzantine art. Subtle comparisons emerged with the recognition that Byzantine art was not static but changed over time in style and meaning, although most analyses identified Byzantine art as an accessible reservoir of the naturalistic, classicizing styles of antiquity. Scholars considering the 7th-century frescoes at S Maria Antiqua and mosaics at S Maria in Cosmedin, both in Rome, and the 8th-century frescoes at Castelseprio and Carolingian manuscripts such as the Coronation Gospels of Charlemagne (Vienna, Schatzkam. SCHK XIII) used formal comparisons with works such as pre-iconoclastic icons at St Catherine’s Monastery on Sinai, along with the history of Byzantine iconoclasm, to argue for the presence of Greek painters in the West. Similarly, Ottonian and Romanesque painting and luxury arts, such as ivories, provided examples of the appropriation of Byzantine imperial imagery. Yet the study of works such as the great 12th-century ...

Article

Haydar  

Sheila S. Blair

[Sayyid Ḥaydar ibn ?Aṣīl al-Din]

(d 1325–6).

Calligrapher. He was one of the six disciples of Yaqut al-Musta‛simi and earned the nickname ‘writer in large characters’ (Pers. kand-navīs), presumably because of his masterful work designing architectural inscriptions in carved stucco. Two superb examples of his work in this medium survive in Iran: a band (1307–8) across the intrados of the north iwan of the mosque in the shrine complex at Natanz, and the mihrab (1310) in the winter prayer hall of the Friday Mosque at Isfahan. He was a renowned teacher whose pupils included such famous calligraphers as ‛Abdallah Sayrafi, and the viziers Taj al-Din ‛Ali Shah and Ghiyath al-Din, the son of Rashid al-Din. His son Muhammad was a calligrapher, too, and signed several calligraphic specimens (e.g. Istanbul, Topkapı Pal. Lib., H. 2160, fol. 29v and H. 2310, fol. 97v).

Qāżī Aḥmad ibn Mīr Munshī: Gulistān-i hunar [Rose-garden of art] (...

Article

Junayd  

(fl c. Baghdad,1396).

Illustrator. In the preface recounting the history of past and present painters in an album compiled for the Safavid prince Bahram Mirza in 1544 (Istanbul, Topkapı Pal. Lib., H. 2154), the chronicler Dust Muhammad stated that Junayd of Baghdad was a pupil of Shams al-Din, who worked under the Jalayirid sultan Uways I (reg 1356–74). The only signed work of Junayd known to survive is Humay and Humayun on the Day after their Wedding, one of nine paintings in a manuscript (London, BL, Add. MS. 18113, fol. 45v) of the Dīvān (collected poetry) of Khwaju Kirmani copied at Baghdad in 1396. All the paintings show the same meticulous finish, lyricism and slender puppet-like figures integrated into complex settings and can be attributed to the hand of Junayd (see Islamic art, §III, 4(v)(c) and fig.). Another painting has been detached from the manuscript and included in ...

Article

Michael Curschmann

The medieval term mappa mundi (also forma mundi, historia/istoire) covers a broad array of maps of the world of which roughly 1100 survive. These have resisted systematic classification, but the clearly dominant type is one that aims at comprehensively symbolistic representation. Its early, schematic form is a disc composed of three continents surrounded and separated from one another by water (“T-O Map”) and associated with the three sons of Noah: Asia (Shem) occupies all of the upper half, Europe (Japhet) to the left and Africa (Ham) to the right share the lower half. Quadripartite cartographic schemes included the antipodes as a fourth continent, but the tripartite model was adopted by the large majority of the more developed world maps in use from the 11th century on and—with important variations—well into the Renaissance. While details were added as available space permitted, the Mediterranean continued to serve as the vertical axis and, with diminishing clarity, the rivers Don and Nile as the horizontal one. The map also continues to be ‘oriented’ towards Asia, where paradise sits at the very top. A circular ocean forms the perimeter and not infrequently the city of Jerusalem constitutes its centre....

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Article

Ernst J. Grube

[Aḥmad Mūsā]

(fl c. 1330–50).

Persian illustrator. In the preface to an album he compiled for the Safavid prince Bahram Mirza in 1544 (Istanbul, Topkapı Pal. Lib., H. 2154), the Safavid librarian Dust Muhammad wrote that during the reign of the Ilkhanid Abu Sa‛id (reg 1317–35) the master Ahmad Musa ‘lifted the veil from the face of depiction, and the [style of] depiction that is now current was invented by him’. Dust Muhammad credited Ahmad Musa with illustrating an Abūsa‛īdnāma (‘Book of Abu Sa‛id’), a Kalila and Dimna, a Mi‛rājnāma (‘Book of the ascension’) and a Tārīkh-i Chingīzī (‘History of Genghis Khan’); ten illustrations from a 14th-century Mi‛rājnāma, four of them attributed to Ahmad Musa, are included in Dust Muhammad’s album. He presented Ahmad Musa as a major link in the development of Persian book painting in the 14th century (see Islamic art, §III, 4(v)(b) and (c)): having learnt the art from his father, Ahmad Musa in turn trained ...

Article

[Ustād Muḥammad Siyāh Qalam]

(fl late 14th century or 15th).

Name associated with a Persian, Turkmen or western Central Asian painter or painters. The full name, which translates as Master Muhammad Black Pen, refers in the narrowest sense to the inscriptions on 65 paintings and drawings, mostly of demons, nomads and workers, in two albums (Istanbul, Topkapı Pal. Lib., H. 2153 and H. 2160). Whether the inscriptions are signatures, attributions to a specific artist or references to a type of painting is debatable; no consensus of opinion has been reached as to when, where and why the works were produced. The two albums contain no introduction, patron’s name or date of compilation. They are known as the Ya‛qub Beg Albums on the basis of the number of calligraphies signed by scribes with the epithet Ya‛qubi, referring to the Aqqoyunlu Turkmen Ya‛qub Beg (reg 1478–90). The latest calligraphy in one album (H. 2160) is dated 1511–12 and the first and last folios are stamped with the seal of the Ottoman sultan ...

Article

Nabil Saidi

[‛Abdallāh al-Ṣayrafī]

(b ?Tabriz; fl 1310–44).

Calligrapher. The son of Khwaja Mahmud Sarraf al-Tabrizi, he was a pupil of Haydar, one of the six followers of Yaqut al-Musta‛simi. ‛Abdallah Sayrafi spent his life in the Ilkhanid capital of Tabriz where he designed inscriptions in glazed tile for two buildings, the Dimishqiyya Madrasa and the building called ‘The Master and the Pupil’ (both destr.). He wrote a short treatise on calligraphy (Berlin, Staatsbib. Preuss. Kultbes., Orientabt., MS. or. oct. 48); a page of calligraphy in thuluth, naskh, and riqā‛ (Baghdad, Iraq Mus., 1324) shows that he had mastered the six classical scripts (see Islamic art, §III, 2(iii)(c)). He penned several manuscripts of the Koran, including one in naskh (Mashhad, 1320; Imam Riza Shrine Mus.) and another in muḥaqqaq (1327; Dublin, Chester Beatty Lib., MS. 1468). His work was still renowned in the 15th century, and his style was followed by Ja‛far (see also...

Article

Sheila R. Canby

[Mīr ‛Alī ibn Ḥasan al-Tabrīzī al-Sulṭānī]

(fl c. 1340–1420).

Persian calligrapher. He is acknowledged as the inventor of nasta‛līq, a fluid, rhythmic and curvilinear script, but his life and identity are shrouded in confusion. In a treatise by the Timurid calligrapher Sultan ‛Ali Mashhadi, Mir ‛Ali is mentioned as a contemporary of the poet Khwaju Khujandi (d 1400), an older contemporary of the poet Hafiz (1325–90). Two calligraphers named Mir ‛Ali Tabrizi were active in the late 14th century: Mir ‛Ali ibn Ilyas, who worked for the last Jalayirid ruler of Baghdad, Ahmad ibn Uways (reg 1382–1410), and Mir ‛Ali ibn Hasan al-Sultani, described by his most famous student Ja‛far Baysunghuri as the ‘inventor of the archetype’, namely nasta‛līq script. The only surviving example of Mir ‛Ali’s hand is an incomplete manuscript (Washington, DC, Freer) of Nizami’s Khusraw and Shirin copied at Tabriz. The date of the manuscript is lost, but the style of its fine paintings, which are contemporary with the text, suggests it was copied between ...

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