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Article

Milo Cleveland Beach and Jonathan M. Bloom

revised by Sheila S. Blair

[(Khwāja) ‛Abd al-Ṣamad; ‛Abd as-Ṣamad; Abdus Ṣamad]

(fl c. 1540–95).

Iranian miniature painter and calligrapher, active also in India. Trained in Safavid Iran, ‛Abd al-Samad migrated to India, where he became director of the Mughal painting workshops under the emperor Akbar (reg 1556–1605). In this key position, he influenced the development of Mughal painting in the second half of the 16th century more than any other artist (see Indian subcontinent: Mughal painting and sub-imperial styles, 16th–19th centuries).

No inscribed works by ‛Abd al-Samad are known from the period when he worked in Safavid Iran, though attributions have been proposed, such as a depiction of the assassination of Khusraw Parviz from the copy of the Shāhnāma made for Shah Tahmasp I (reg 1524–76). Already a mature painter, he paid homage in 1544 to Akbar’s father, the Mughal emperor Humayun (reg 1530–40; 1555–6), when the exiled ruler was given refuge at the court of the Safavid shah Tahmasp at Tabriz. In ...

Article

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 ...

Article

[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 (...

Article

Alamut  

Abbas Daneshvari

[Alamūt]

Mountainous valley in Iran, 35 km north-east of Qazvin, and the name of one of the fortresses that defended the valley. From 1090 to 1261 it was the main headquarters of the Nizari branch of the Isma‛ili Shi‛ites, a religious community organized on a military basis. Their rigid hierarchy, esoteric practices and use of terrorism encouraged the development of romantic tales about them. Reputed to use hashish, they became known in the West as ‘Assassins’ (Arab. hashhīshiyyīn). Like all Isma‛ili fortresses, Alamut is strategically located on rocky heights and has an elaborate storage system for water and provisions so that the fortress was never taken by force. It consists of two parts: a higher and larger western fort and an eastern one.

Enc. Iran. F. Stark: The Valley of the Assassins (London, 1934) W. Ivanow: Alamut and Lamasar (Tehran, 1950) P. Willey: The Castles of the Assassins (London, 1963)...

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

Gordon Campbell

[It. alberello]

Maiolica jar, without handles, used especially as a container for dry drugs. The neck and foot are often slightly narrower than the body of the jar. The form originates in the Islamic world. An albarello with a procession of peacocks (Ann Arbor, U. MI, Kelsey Mus.) was excavated at Fustat (>Egypt) ...

Article

Aleppo  

Jean-Claude David

[Arab. Ḥalab; Fr. Alep]

Chief city of northern Syria. After the Turkish conquest of Anatolia in the late 11th century, Aleppo became increasingly important as a regional capital, and, under the Zangid (reg 1127–1222) and Ayyubid (reg 1183–1260) dynasties, the city played a fundamental role as a centre for the reconquest of Crusader territories in the Levant. Under the Mamluk (reg 1250–1517) and Ottoman (reg 1281–1924) dynasties, Aleppo was the second city of the Arab world after Cairo, a focus of Middle Eastern trade and a meeting point between East and West.

The prehistoric village on the site seems to have gained ascendancy over others in this fertile agricultural area due to the presence of the rocky eminence on which the citadel stands. At the end of the 19th century bc, Aleppo was conquered by the Hittites, and a few low reliefs and inscriptions survive from the period of Hittite domination. The urban character of the city was revived when ...

Article

Judith McKenzie, R. R. R. Smith, Wiktor A. Daszewski, A. H. Enklaar, Dominic Montserrat, C. Walters, and Wladyslaw B. Kubiak

revised by Gordon Campbell, Sheila S. Blair, and Jonathan M. Bloom

Egyptian city situated on the Mediterranean coast west of the delta of the River Nile, capital of Egypt from c. 320 bc to ad 642, seaport and centre of ancient Greek culture.

Judith McKenzie

Alexandria was founded in 331 bc by Alexander, on the site of the small Egyptian settlement of Rhakotis. Its location, with access by canal to the River Nile, enabled it to become an important and highly prosperous trading centre, and by c. 320 bc Alexandria was the capital of Ptolemaic Egypt. During Ptolemaic times (304–30 bc) it became a major centre of learning, with famous scholars of literature, mathematics, astronomy, medicine and geography, and it played a major role in the transmission of Greek culture to the East.

With the defeat of the last Ptolemaic monarch, Cleopatra VII (51–30 bc), by Octavian (later called Augustus) at the Battle of Actium in 30...

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

Algiers  

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

[Arab. al-Jizā’ir; ‘the islands’]

Capital and largest city in Algeria, located on the west side of a bay opening onto the Mediterranean Sea. The site was already settled in Phoenician times, as shown by a hoard of Punic coins found near the port in 1940. The ruins of the Roman settlement known as Icosium are said to have existed until the 10th century when the Zirid family ruler Buluggin (reg 972–84) founded the Muslim town. Medieval geographers called it jazā’ir banī mazghannā, the islands of the Bani Mazghanna, after a local tribe of Sanhaja Berbers who lived in the region. At the end of the 12th century Almoravid rulers erected a mosque there (see Islamic art, §II, 5(iv)(c)), which preserves a fine wooden minbar and a minaret added in the 14th century. In the 15th century many refugees fleeing the Christian conquest of Spain settled in the city and established themselves as corsairs. Incorporated into the Ottoman empire, it became an important naval base, often enjoying relative independence from Istanbul under the Barbary pirates who made piracy the major industry. The city was repeatedly bombarded by European powers, until the French captured it in ...

Article

Antonio Fernández-Puertas and D. Fairchild Ruggles

(Granada)

The palaces of the Alhambra and Generalife in Granada, Spain, form the most important architectural ensemble to survive from the Nasrid period (1232–1492). Art created under the Nasrid dynasty in the Iberian Peninsula (see Islamic art, §II, 6(iv)(e) ) provided the spark of originality for art in the neighbouring Christian kingdoms and for Marinid and Abd al-Wādid art in Morocco and Algeria. By the 9th century the citadel on the Sabīka spur of the Sierra Nevada overlooking Granada was called al-ḥamrā’ (Arab.: ‘the red’) because its ageing white stuccoed walls, probably belonging to a Visigothic fortress, were already stained red with ferruginous dust. In the 11th century the Zirids built defensive walls that linked this fortress with Albaycín Hill to the north and Torres Bermejas to the south. In 1238 the first Nasrid sultan, Muhammad I, organized the supply of water by canal, which allowed the building of a royal city on the Sabīka from the 13th to the 15th century. Enlarged and embellished by his descendants, the walled Alhambra city comprised the Alcazaba (...

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

Article

S. J. Vernoit

[Şeker Ahmet Pasha]

(b Üsküdar, Istanbul, 1841; d Istanbul, 1907).

Turkish painter. In 1859 he became an assistant teacher of painting at the Military Medical High School in Istanbul. In 1864 Sultan Abdülaziz (reg 1861–76) sent him to Paris where, after a preparatory education at a special Ottoman school, he studied painting in the studio of Gustave Boulanger and then under Jean-Léon Gérôme at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Ahmet Ali was also instrumental in the acquisition of paintings from France for the Ottoman court. After nearly eight years of studies in Paris, he stayed in Rome for a year before returning to Istanbul, where he resumed his work at the Military Medical High School. In 1873 he organized in Istanbul the first group exhibition of paintings by Turkish and foreign artists to be held in Turkey. He was later appointed master of ceremonies at the Ottoman court and by the time of his death had risen to the office of intendant of the palace. His paintings were influenced by European art. They include landscapes, such as ...

Article

[Khwāja ‛Alī Tabrīzī]

(fl Herat, 1420–45).

Persian illustrator. Khwaja ‛Ali of Tabriz is named as illuminator and illustrator in the colophon to a fine copy (Istanbul, Tokapı Pal. Lib., H. 781) of Nizami’s Khamsa (‘Five poems’), completed in 1445–6 for Ismat al-Dunya, the wife of the Timurid prince Muhammad Juki. The artist is probably to be identified with the ‘portraitist’ of that name who, according to Dust Muhammad, was brought by Muhammad Juki’s half-brother Baysunghur to Herat from Tabriz in 1420. Khwaja ‛Ali’s paintings in the Khamsa are distinguished by round-headed snub-nosed figures, refined and meticulous architecture and interiors, fresh and verdant foliage, and a palette of primary colours with much green and purple. Many of his compositions repeat those used in earlier manuscripts. His style can be identified in several other manuscripts produced at Herat: a copy (1431; Istanbul, Mus. Turk. & Islam. A., MS. 1954) of Nizami ‛Arudi’s Chahār maqāla (‘Four discourses’) made for ...

Article

[Mihr ‛Alī]

(fl c. 1795–1830).

Persian painter. He produced at least ten full-size oil paintings of the Qajar monarch Fath ‛Ali Shah (reg 1797–1834). One of the earliest (1797–8; Calcutta, Victoria Mem. Hall), a portrait of him kneeling on a carpet, was probably sent as a present to the amirs of Sind in 1800. Two fine portraits (1803–4 and 1804–5) were painted for the Hall of the Marble Throne in the Gulistan Palace, Tehran, and a third, of the King enthroned (undated; Versailles, Château), was sent to Napoleon. These early portraits show Fath ‛Ali Shah with a squat neck and round face, but Mihr ‛Ali’s drawings improved in the first decade of the 19th century and later portraits show the King with more flattering proportions. These later paintings include portraits of the King standing (1809–10; St Petersburg, Hermitage), kneeling and holding a mace (1813–14; St Petersburg, Hermitage), and a third with the date obliterated (London, B. W. Robinson priv. col.). Mihr ‛Ali’s finest portrait, and perhaps the finest ...

Article

Sheila R. Canby

[Mīr Sayyid ‛Alī-i Tabrīzī]

(b Tabriz, c. 1510; d Mecca, after 1572).

Persian painter, active also in India. He was the son of the Safavid-period painter Mir Musavvir. Though Qazi Ahmad, writing in the late 16th century, deemed him cleverer in art than his father, Mir Sayyid ‛Ali reveals paternal influence in his meticulous rendering of ornamental patterns and details. As he was a junior artist at the time of the royal Shāhnāma of c. 1525–35 (dispersed, see Dickson and Welch), his contribution to this was limited. Only two miniatures (fols 135v and 568r; priv. col. and New York, Met., respectively; see 1979–80 exh. cat., nos 20 and 33) are attributed to him, and possibly passages in other works by Sultan Muhammad and Aqa Mirak. By the time of the illustration of the Khamsa (‘Five poems’) of Nizami of 1539–42 (London, BL, Or. MS. 2265), Mir Sayyid ‛Ali was a first-rank Safavid court artist, painting four (or possibly five) miniatures, three (or possibly four) of which were subsequently removed from the manuscript (Cambridge, MA, Sackler Mus., 1958.75 and 1958.76; Edinburgh, Royal Mus. Scotland, ...

Article

Sheila S. Blair

[Mīrzā ‛Alī ibn Sulṭān-Muḥammad]

(b ?Tabriz, c. 1510; d before 1576).

Persian illustrator. According to the Safavid chronicler Qazi Ahmad, during the lifetime of the famous painter Sultan-Muhammad, his son Mirza ‛Ali worked in the library of the Safavid ruler Tahmasp I and had no match in figural and decorative painting and in portraiture. The Ottoman historian Mustafa ‛Ali placed Mirza ‛Ali at the head of the list of designers and called him a celebrated master and painter. Two paintings in the magnificent copy (London, BL, Or. MS. 2265, fols 48v and 77v) of Nizami’s Khamsa (‘Five poems’) made for Tahmasp in 1539–43 are ascribed to Mirza ‛Ali. Their realism, logical arrangement of space and psychological insight led Dickson and Welch to attribute other works to the artist and trace a long career, stretching into the 1570s. They suggested that in the 1530s and 1540s Mirza ‛Ali worked on the major manuscripts produced for the Safavid court, contributing six paintings to the monumental copy (ex-Houghton priv. col., fols 18...