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D. W. MacDowall, W. Ball, Gregory L. Possehl, Maurizio Taddei, C. Fabrègues, E. Errington, N. Hatch Dupree, Sheila S. Blair, Jonathan M. Bloom, and F. Tissot

Country of some 647,500 sq. km in the middle of the steppe and desert zone of Eurasia. It is bounded on the north by the Amu (Oxus) River and the republics of Central Asia, on the west by Iran and on the south and east by the Indian subcontinent. In the Pamir Mountains to the north-east, a narrow tongue of land known as the Wakhan corridor links the country with China (see fig.). Located at the crossroads of major trade and migration routes between the Mediterranean, Central Asia, India and China, the region has been subjected to diverse cultural influences throughout its history.

The physical geography of Afghanistan is very varied and includes formidable mountain ranges, fertile valleys and barren deserts. The dominant mountainous core is the Hindu Kush, an extension of the Karakoram and Pamir mountains that stretches south-west for some 965 km and has peaks rising to some 5180 m in height. To the north, between the Hindu Kush and the Amu River lie the semi-desert plains of Turkestan. South of the Hindu Kush is a transitional zone of plateaux with broad mountain valleys. To the west and south-west the mountains gradually descend to the stony and sandy deserts of the Iranian plateau. North of Kabul the Kuh-e-Baba range (‘Grandfather Mountains’) of the Hindu Kush is the watershed for four great Afghan rivers: the Kabul River flowing east to the Indus, the Kunduz flowing north into the Amu River, the Hari Rud flowing west to Herat and the Helmand, which flows southwards into the marshy lake of Hamun Helmand in Sistan. There are several passes through the mountainous core of the country linking north to south and east to west, and traffic is also channelled along the rivers or round the mountain mass. The low-lying plains and deserts between Herat and Kandahar provide an easy route for traders and invaders travelling eastwards into the Indus Valley....



Kristo Frashëri, Gjergj Frashëri, Dhorka Dhamo, Andon Kuqali, and Sulejman Dashi


Country in south-eastern Europe, bordering the Adriatic Sea and adjacent to northern Greece. The country covers c. 28,500 sq. km and has a population of c. 4 million. The capital is Tiranë. Albania is predominantly mountainous, with a narrow zone of fertile land along the coast (see fig.). The coastal climate is Mediterranean, and that of the mountainous interior is more generally continental.

Kristo Frashëri

The earliest traces of art on Albanian territory date from the beginning of the Neolithic period (6th millennium bc). During the Bronze Age (2nd millennium bc) the emergence took place of the Illyrians, whose art later flourished at the time of their independent states (5th–2nd centuries bc). The Roman occupation (167 bcad 395) and the Byzantine occupation were characterized by the development of Roman culture, the Hellenistic tradition and Early Christian art. At the beginning of the Middle Ages Albania remained outside the sphere of Byzantine domination. This was the period of the evolution of the Illyrian race into the Albanian people, a process that was hindered by neither the restoration of Byzantine rule (...


[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 ...


Marie-Louise Bastin

[República Popular de Angola]

African country bordered by Congo and Zaïre to the north, Zambia to the east and Namibia to the south. It has a long Atlantic coastline to the west. Officially included in the political area of Southern Africa, Angola is more closely linked by ancestral tradition to Central African culture. It has a total area of 1,246,700 sq. km and a population of c. 11 million (1995 estimate). The capital is Luanda. Angola consists mainly of savannah and sparse forest. The fertility of the soil is assured by a network of water-courses. The climate is characterized by alternate dry and rainy seasons. After the foundation of Luanda (1575) the port became the capital of the Portuguese colony of Angola, essentially limited to the Ambundu territory of the Ngola and ruled (except for a brief period of Dutch occupation between 1641 and 1648) in the name of the Portuguese kingdom by a succession of governors. The 19th-century ‘scramble’ in Africa originated a further conquest of land which, after the International Berlin Conference (...


Group of Caribbean Islands comprising Cuba, Republic of, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and Hispaniola, the last divided into Haiti, Republic of and the Dominican Republic. Prior to contact with the Spanish colonists, the art of the Greater Antilles was relatively unified. However, after colonization traditions soon separated.

Antilles, Lesser, §I: Introduction...


Irene Fanning, Jorge Glusberg, Cheryl Jiménez Frei, Nelly Perazzo, Christopher Hartop, Jorge F. Rivas Pérez, Ruth Corcuera, Marta Arciprete de Reyes, Julieta Zunilda Vaquero, and Marta Calvo

[República Argentina]

South American country. It is bordered to the north by Bolivia and Paraguay, to the northeast by Brazil and Uruguay, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the west by Chile (see fig.). Buenos Aires is the capital city, and the country is divided administratively into several areas. The mild and fertile Pampa region in the center accounts for the country’s agricultural wealth; the Andes in the west range from dry, hot, northern peaks to sub-Antarctic Patagonia; the arid northwest is rich in mineral reserves. The north is covered by subtropical forest, known as the Chaco. Mesopotamia, to the northeast, is enclosed by two great rivers, the Paraná and the Uruguay, which 16th-century Spanish expeditioners followed in search of the gold and silver that they believed Argentina (“the land of silver”) concealed. This varied hinterland has, nevertheless, remained underdeveloped at the expense of the over-populated capital; around a third of the total population lives there and in the surrounding province. The majority of the population is of European descent, particularly Spanish and Italian, but also including British, German, French, Lebanese, Syrian, Eastern European, and Jewish communities, with growing immigration coming from neighboring countries and East Asia as well. The population of African descent that was introduced through slavery during colonial rule has all but disappeared, not least as a result of an epidemic of yellow fever in ...


Lucy Der Manuelian, Armen Zarian, Vrej Nersessian, Nonna S. Stepanyan, Murray L. Eiland, and Dickran Kouymjian

[Hayasdan; Hayq; anc. Pers. Armina]

Country in the southern part of the Transcaucasian region; its capital is Erevan. Present-day Armenia is bounded by Georgia to the north, Iran to the south-east, Azerbaijan to the east and Turkey to the west. From 1920 to 1991 Armenia was a Soviet Socialist Republic within the USSR, but historically its land encompassed a much greater area including parts of all present-day bordering countries (see fig.). At its greatest extent it occupied the plateau covering most of what is now central and eastern Turkey (c. 300,000 sq. km) bounded on the north by the Pontic Range and on the south by the Taurus and Kurdistan mountains. During the 11th century another Armenian state was formed to the west of Historic Armenia on the Cilician plain in south-east Asia Minor, bounded by the Taurus Mountains on the west and the Amanus (Nur) Mountains on the east. Its strategic location between East and West made Historic or Greater Armenia an important country to control, and for centuries it was a battlefield in the struggle for power between surrounding empires. Periods of domination and division have alternated with centuries of independence, during which the country was divided into one or more kingdoms....




Terry Smith, Michael Spens, Graeme Sturgeon, Terence Lane, Kevin Fahy, Margaret Legge, Geoffrey R. Edwards, Judith O’Callaghan, Jennifer Sanders, Nancy Underhill, Robert Smith, and Joyce McGrath

Country and island continent. It is the world’s smallest continent (area c. 8.5 million sq. km), located between the Indian and Pacific oceans south of South-east Asia, in latitudes parallel to those of the Sahara Desert (see fig.). With an average elevation of only 300 m, Australia is also the lowest continent, its ancient landforms being heavily eroded. The most prominent feature is the Great Dividing Range, the highlands of which run the full length of eastern Australia and recur in the island of Tasmania; in the western half of the continent are extensive plateaux and ridges, with vast desert areas in the centre. The extreme north is tropical, lying within the monsoon belt north of the Tropic of Capricorn; off the north-eastern coast is the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef. Australia has extensive coastal plains and tablelands, those along the east coast being the most heavily populated parts of the country; the vegetation is typically dry, open woodland dominated by eucalypts. The Australian Aboriginal peoples arrived ...


Walter Krause, Mario Schwarz, Eckart Vancsa, Ingonda Hannesschläger, Inge Podbrecky, Matthias Boeckl, Gottfried Biedermann, Margit Stadlober, Lothar Schultes, Peter König, Maria Pötzl-Malíková, Wolfgang Huber, Renate Wonisch-Langenfelder, Eva B. Ottillinger, Gabriele Ramsauer, Barbara Wild, A. Kenneth Snowman, Dora Heinz, Angela Volker, Alfred Auer, Oskar Seber, Sieglinde Fraunlob, and Gregor M. Lechner


Central European country, bordered by Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland. It is divided into nine provinces: Styria, Tyrol, Salzburg, Vorarlberg, Upper Austria, Lower Austria, Vienna, Burgenland, and Carinthia. The country is landlocked and is characterized geographically by its mountainous landscape. Its population is concentrated mainly in the river valleys, especially along the River Danube and its surrounding plains, with the most important centres developing at the junctions of major north–south routes with those running from east to west, for example at Salzburg, Innsbruck, Linz, Graz, and the capital, Vienna (see fig.). There is evidence of human activity from Paleolithic and Neolithic times (see Prehistoric Europe, §II) and of Celtic settlements at Dürrnberg, Salzburg and Hallstatt in the last centuries bc (see also Prehistoric Europe, §V), before the area was colonized by the Romans in the first century ad. This article concentrates on art in Austria from the Early Christian period to the present....


E. R. Salmanov and Jonathan M. Bloom

revised by Sheila S. Blair

[anc. Athropatena, Azarbaijan]

Transcaucasian republic on the west side of the Caspian Sea, bounded by the Dagestan republic of the Russian Federation to the north, the Republic of Georgia and the Republic of Armenia to the west, and Caucasus Mountains to the north and west (see fig.). Armenian territories separate the region of Nakhchyvan from the rest of Azerbaijan. To the south, the Araks River (anc. Araxes) forms the border with Iran. The capital, Baku, is a natural port on the Absheron Peninsula of the Caspian coast. Other major towns are Gandja, Shamakhy, Quba, Shaki, Qazakh, Lankaran, Nakhchyvan, in the centre of Nakhchyvan region, and Khankandi, in the centre of Daghly Qarabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) district.

Azerbaijan is located on the principal route from Europe to Asia along the Caspian Sea. Its origins date from the 5th century bc, when it was the 11th district of a Persian empire dominated by Caspian tribes (Herodotus III.93). At the beginning of the Christian era, the kingdom known as Albania by the Greeks was formed by tribes that were probably of Indo-European origin, to judge from the white skin indicated by the name ‘Albanian’. They lived along the Kura and Arax rivers (Strabo: ...


[Arab. Dawlat al-Baḥrayn; anc. Dilmun, Tilmun, Gr. Tylos]

Independent state in the Persian/Arabian Gulf, comprising an archipelago of low-lying islands. The capital, Manama, is on the main island, also known as Bahrain. Bahrain Island is c. 586 sq. km in area and consists mostly of sand-covered limestone, with a fertile strip in the north and oases fed by natural springs. The discovery of oil in 1932 transformed Bahrain’s revenues, replacing pearls as its main export. Many of the islands are linked by causeways, including one between Bahrain Island and Muharraq Island, and a major causeway (1986) links Bahrain with Saudi Arabia. The indigenous population (c. 500,000) consists mainly of Shi‛a and Sunni Muslims. From the 3rd millennium bc to the mid-1st Bahrain can be identified as Dilmun, a powerful trading centre between the east (e.g. Iran, the Indus Valley) and Mesopotamia, with a colony on Failaka Island (Kuwait) from c. 2000 bc. Islam came to Bahrain ...




Perween Hasan and Hameeda Hossain

Country in the north-east of the Indian subcontinent, bounded in the south by the Bay of Bengal, on the south-east by Burma (Myanmar) and on all other sides by India. Although a small country of 144,000 sq. km, it supports a population of 147 million (2006 estimate). The region formed part of British India, and in 1947, on partition of the subcontinent at the time of independence, it became East Pakistan. In 1971, following civil war with West Pakistan, it established itself as the independent state of Bangladesh with its capital at Dhaka (Dacca). This entry focuses mainly on the art produced in the country since 1971. For art of the area in earlier times see appropriate sections of Indian subcontinent and entries for Dhaka, Gaur and Rajshahi.

Perween Hasan

In terms of geography, much of Bangladesh is a vast delta traversed by numerous rivers (see fig.). The climate is monsoonal, with high humidity throughout the year. Coastal areas are particularly susceptible to cyclonic storms. Of the population, 98% are ...


Sergey Kuznetsov

[Belarus.: ‘White Russia’; Belarus; Bielarus; Byelarus; formerly Belorussia; Bielorussia; Byelorussia]

Country in Europe bordering Russia to the east, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the north-west (see fig.). It covers 207,600 sq. km of gently rolling plain and in 1992 it had a population of c. 10.3 million. The capital is Minsk (Belarus. Miensk). From the 9th century ad to the late 13th, the area that is now Belarus’ was made up of East Slavonic principalities sporadically subject to overlords in Kiev (then capital of ancient Rus’), Połack (Rus. Polotsk) and Navahrudak (Novogrudok). These principalities, Orthodox in religion, then joined a confederation with Lithuania against the Teutonic Knights, the Tatar-Mongols and the Muscovites. Belarus’, having laid the foundation for the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, was able to develop as a distinctive ethnic community; the Grand Duchy, connected politically with Poland from 1386, united with it in 1569. In the partitions of Poland (...


Johan Decavele, Frieda van Tyghem, Jean van Cleven, M. Smeyers, Hans Vlieghe, J. Vanbergen, J. W. Klinckaert, Lynn F. Jacobs, Cynthia Lawrence, Hugo Lettens, L. Pil, Stéphane Vandenberghe, Ria Lombaerde-Fabri, Claire Dumortier, Mireille Jottrand, Isabelle Verhoeven, Timothy Schroder, Leo de Ren, Lieven Daenens, Peter Hornsby, G. van Hemeldonck, Erik Duverger, Patricia Wardle, Marc Umans, Herwig Todts, Yolande Morel-Deckers, Luc Verpoest, and Alfred Willis

[Flem. België, Fr. Belgique]

West European country bordering to the north with the Netherlands, the east with Germany, the south-east with Luxembourg, and the south with France. For 65 km it borders the North Sea to the west (see fig.). The rivers Scheldt, Leie, Meuse, and Sambre, which run through Belgium, have their estuaries north of the country, which therefore belongs geographically mainly to the Lower-Rhine plain; the Ardennes form an indented plateau in the south with a high-point of 692 m. The country is bisected by the Germanic-Romanic language border and is divided into ten provinces, three communities (Flanders, which is Dutch-speaking; Wallonia, which is French-speaking; and the German-speaking community of Eupen–Malmédy–Sankt-Vith), and, with the bilingual capital Brussels, into three regions. The Belgian state, created in 1830, corresponds largely to the area formerly known as the Southern Netherlands, which existed under Spanish rule in the 17th century and Austrian in the 18th (...



Lita Hunter Krohn

[formerly British Honduras]

Central American country. Bordered by Mexico on the north, Guatemala on the west and south, and the Caribbean Sea on the east (see fig.), its total land area is c. 23,300 sq. km. Its population of c. 250,000 (1999) contains a vast variety of ethnic groups. There are three types of Maya: the Mopan, Kekchi, and Yucatec, each with its own unique language. The largest group are the mestizos, of mixed Spanish and Maya descent. There are also Creoles, of mixed European and African ancestry, whose language, derived from English, is widely spoken by all, and Garifuna, descended from Amerindian Caribs, Arawaks, and Africans. The population also includes Chinese, Lebanese, Europeans, Hindu, and Mennonite communities. In 1970 Belmopan became the capital in place of the coastal Belize City, which had been devastated by a hurricane in 1961. The terrain in the north of the country is mostly flat, as is the whole of the coastal area, while the south contains the Maya Mountains. There is thick rainforest in the interior, while the coast has the largest barrier reef in the western hemisphere; the Belize Barrier Reef has been named a World Heritage Site....


Codjovi Joseph Adande

[République du Bénin; formerly Dahomey, People’s Republic of Benin]

Country in West Africa bordered by Togo to the west, Burkina Faso and Niger to the north and Nigeria to the east. To the south it has a short coastline (c. 125 km) on the Gulf of Guinea. The capital is Porto Novo. The population of 4,591,000 (UN estimate, 1989) comprises a number of ethnic groups including Fon and Yoruba. The official language is French.

This entry covers the art produced in the area since colonial times. For art of the region in earlier periods, see Africa §VII 4.. For more information on some of Benin’s continuing art traditions, see Fon. See also Yoruba.

The territory of Benin (c. 122,622 sq. km) consists of a narrow band of land stretching from the sea to the Sahel. The relatively fertile land near the coast soon gives way to poorer soil and then savannah. As Dahomey, Benin was part of French West Africa from ...