Main Islamic Visual Culture, 1100-1800

Islamic Visual Culture, 1100-1800

Constructing the Study of Islamic Art is a set of four volumes of studies by Oleg Grabar. Between them they bring together more than eighty articles, studies and essays, work spanning half a century. Each volume takes a particular section of the topic, the four volumes being entitled: Early Islamic Art, 650-1100; Islamic Visual Culture, 1100-1800; Islamic Art and Beyond; and Jerusalem. Reflecting the many incidents of a long academic life, they illustrate one scholar's attempt at making order and sense of 1400 years of artistic growth. They deal with architecture, painting, objects, iconography, theories of art, aesthetics and ornament, and they seek to integrate our knowledge of Islamic art with Islamic culture and history as well as with the global concerns of the History of Art. In addition to the articles selected, each volume contains an introduction which describes, often in highly personal ways, the context in which Grabar's scholarship developed and the people who directed and mentored his efforts.
Volume:
2
Year:
2006
Publisher:
Ashgate Publishing
Language:
english
Pages:
451
ISBN 13:
9780860789222
Series:
Constructing the Study of Islamic Art
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VARIORUM COLLECTED STUDIES SERIES

ISLAMIC VISUAL CULTURE, 1100-1800

The Aga Khan Award for Architecture, award presentation ceremony (Marrakesh,
23-25 November 1986), ready to enlighten architects and decision-makers on the
values of history (photo: Gary Otte)

Oleg Grabar

Islamic Visual Culture, 1100-1800
Constructing the Study of Islamic Art, Volume II

ASHGATE
VARIORUM

© Oleg Grabar 2006
All rights reserved. No part of chis publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval
system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying,
recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the publisher.
The author has asserted his moral right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Ace, 1988,
co be identified as the author of chis work.
Published by
Ashgace Publishing Limited
Gower House
Croft Road, Aldershoc
Hampshire GUn 3HR
England

Ashgace Publishing Company
Suite 420
ror Cherry Street
Burlington, VT 05401-4405
USA

Ashgace website: http//www.ashgace.com
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

Grabar, Oleg
Islamic visual culture, noo-1800. - (Constructing the
study of Islamic arc ; 2) (Variorum collected studies
series)
r. Arc, Islamic 2. Architecture, Islamic 3. Islamic
antiquities
I. Tide
709.1'767
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Grabar, Oleg
Islamic visual culture, noo-1800 / Oleg Grabar.
p. cm. - (Constructing the study ofislamic arc; vol. 2)
(Variorum collected studies series; CS825)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 0-86078-922-5 (alk. paper)
r. Arc, Islamic. I. Tide. II. Collected studies; CS825.
N6260.G69r5 2006
709'.17'67-dc22

ISBN o 86078 922 5
Typeset by Manton Typesetters, Louch, Lincolnshire, UK and printed and bound in Great
Britain by TJ Internacional Led, Padscow, Cornwall
V ARIORUM COLLECTED STUDIES SERIES CS825

Contents

List ofIllustrations

VII

Preface

XVII

Acknowledgments

XXIII

Introduction

XXV

Part One: Objects

I

Two Pieces of Metalwork at the University of Michigan

II

Les arts mine; urs de l'Orient musulman a partir du milieu
du XIIe siecle

III

Trade with the East and the Influence of Islamic Art on
the "Luxury Arts" in the West

IV

The Shared Culture of Objects

V

Epigrafika Vostoka, A Critical Review

3

43

Part Two: Art of the Book

VI

A Newly Discovered Illustrated Manuscript of the
Maqamat of Hariri

VII

Notes on the Iconography of the "Demotte" Shahname

VIII

The Illustrated Maqamat of the Thirteenth Century: The
Bourgeoisie and the Arts

IX

Pictures or Commentaries: The Illustrations of the
Maqamat of al-Hariri
V

93

VI

CONTENTS

X

About an Arabic Dioskorides Manuscript

207

XI

Toward an Aesthetic of Persian Painting

213

XII

About two Mughal Miniatures

253

XIII

A Preliminary Note on two Eighteenth-century
Representations of Mecca and Medina

Part Three: Architecture and Culture

XIV

The Inscriptions of the Madrasa-Mausoleum of Qaytbay

2 71

XV

Isfahan as a Mirror of Persian Architecture

277

XVI

Reflections on Mamluk Art

305

XVII

An Exhibition of High Ottoman Art

327

XVIII

The Meanings of Sinan's Architecture

345

XIX

The Many Gates of Ottoman Art

353

XX

The Crusades and the Development of Islamic Art

363

Part Four: Islamic Art and the West

XXI

Islamic Architecture and the West: Influences and Parallels

381

XXII

Patterns and Ways of Cultural Exchange

389

XXIII

Europe and the Orient: An Ideologically Charged Exhibition

395

XXIV

Classical Forms in Islamic Art and Some Implications

413

XXV

Islamic Art and Architecture and the Antique

42 3

Index

443

List of Illustrations

Part One: Objects
I

Two Pieces of Metalwork at the University of Michigan

I

2
3
4a
46
4c
4d
A
5
6
II
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9

IO

The Ayyubid basin
The Ayyu bid basin
The Ayyu bid basin
The Ayyu bid basin
The Ayyu bid basin
The Ayyu bid basin
The Ayyu bid basin
The Ayyu bid basin
The Mamluk box
The Mamluk box

4
5
7
8
8
8
8
IO

15
16

Les arts mineurs de !'Orient musulman a partir du milieu du Xlle
siecle
Cleveland. Museum of Art. Plat. (provenance: J. H. Wade
Fund)
Cleveland. Museum of Art. Plat. Detail
Cleveland. Museum of Art. Plat. Detail
Cleveland. Museum of Art. Plat. Detail
Leningrad. Musee de l'Ermitage. Inscriptions
Leningrad. Musee de l'Ermitage. Chaudron
Washington. Freer Gallery of Art. Gourde. (Avec
l' autorisation de "The Smithsonian Institution", Freer Gallery
of Art, Washington, DC 20560)
New York. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Plat. (The Rogers
Fund and Gift of the Schiff Foundation, 1957)
Washington. Freer Gallery of Art. Gobelet (Avec
l' autorisation de "The Smithsonian Institution", Freer Gallery
of Art, Washington, DC)
Washington. Freer Gallery of Art. Plat. (Avec l' autorisation de
"The Smithsonian Institution", Freer Gallery of Art,
Washington, DC)
VII

18
19
20
21
22
23

24
26

27
28

VIII

II

12

13

14
15
16

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

New York. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Plat. (Gift of
Horace Havemeyer, 1941)
Washington. Freer Gallery of Art. Plat. (Avec l' autorisation de
"The Smithsonian Institution", Freer Gallery of Art,
Washington, DC)
Washington. Freer Gallery of Art. Ms. de Dioscoride, De
Materia Medica (Avec l' autorisation de "The Smithsonian
Institution", Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, DC)
Paris. Bibliotheque Nationale. Ms. Maqamat de Hariri. Arabe
3929, fol. 26 (Cliche Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris)
Paris. Bibliotheque Nationale. Ms. Maqamat de Hariri. Arabe
5847, fol. 138 (Cliche Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris)
Paris. Bibliotheque Nationale. Ms. Maqamat de Hariri. Arabe
5847, fol. 33. (Cliche Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris)

29
30

31
32
33
36

Part Two: Art of the Book

VI
1
2
3
4
5

6
7
8
9
ro
II

12

A Newly Discovered Illustrated Manuscript of the Maqamat of Hariri

Maqamat of Hariri, Suleymaniye library, Esad Efendi 2916,
fol. 14v
Maqamat of Hariri, Suleymaniye library, Esad Efendi 2916,
fol. 18
Maqamat of Hariri, Suleymaniye library, Esad Efendi 2916,
fol. 27v
Maqamat of Hariri, Suleymaniye library, Esad Efendi 2916,
fol. 34
Maqamat of Hariri, Suleymaniye library, Esad Efendi 2916,
fol. 41
Maqamat of Hariri, Suleymaniye library, Esad Efendi 2916,
fol. 44
Maqamat of Hariri, Suleymaniye library, Esad Efendi 2916,
fol. 47
Maqamat of Hariri, Suleymaniye library, Esad Efendi 2916,
fol. 48v
Maqamat of Hariri, Suleymaniye library, Esad Efendi 2916,
fol. 55v
Maqamat of Hariri, Suleymaniye library, Esad Efendi 2916,
fol. 64
Maqamat of Hariri, Suleymaniye library, Esad Efendi 2916,
�-�

Maqamat of Hariri, Suleymaniye library, Esad Efendi 2916,
fol. 70

96
97
98
99
IOO
IOI

104
105
106
107
I�

109

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34

Maqamat of Hariri, Si.ileymaniye library, Esad Efendi 2916,
fol. 73V
Maqamat of Hariri, Si.ileymaniye library, Esad Efendi 2916,
fol. 77
Maqamat of Hariri, Si.ileymaniye library, Esad Efendi 2916,
fol. 82v
Maqamat of Hariri, Si.ileymaniye library, Esad Efendi 2916,
fol. 89
Maqamat of Hariri, Si.ileymaniye library, Esad Efendi 2916,
fol. 92
Maqamat of Hariri, Si.ileymaniye library, Esad Efendi 2916,
fol. 96v
Maqamat of Hariri, Si.ileymaniye library, Esad Efendi 2916,
fol. 98
Maqamat of Hariri, Si.ileymaniye library, Esad Efendi 2916,
fol. 104
Maqamat of Hariri, Si.ileymaniye library, Esad Efendi 2916,
fol. 110
Maqamat of Hariri, Si.ileymaniye library, Esad Efendi 2916,
fol. 117v
Maqamat of Hariri, Si.ileymaniye library, Esad Efendi 2916,
fol. 131v
Maqamat of Hariri, Si.ileymaniye library, Esad Efendi 2916,
fol. 134
Maqamat of Hariri, Si.ileymaniye library, Esad Efendi 2916,
fol. 136v
Maqamat of Hariri, Si.ileymaniye library, Esad Efendi 2916,
fol. 138v
Maqamat of Hariri, Si.ileymaniye library, Esad Efendi 2916,
fol. 141
Maqamat of Hariri, Si.ileymaniye library, Esad Efendi 2916,
fol. 150v
Maqamat of Hariri, Si.ileymaniye library, Esad Efendi 2916,
fol. 153
Maqamat of Hariri, Si.ileymaniye library, Esad Efendi 2916,
fol. 154v
Maqamat of Hariri, Si.ileymaniye library, Esad Efendi 2916,
fol. 167V
Maqamat of Hariri, Si.ileymaniye library, Esad Efendi 2916,
fol. 171v
Maqamat of Hariri, Si.ileymaniye library, Esad Efendi 2916,
fol. 176
Maqamat of Hariri, Si.ileymaniye library, Esad Efendi 2916,
fol. 177v

IX

112
113
114
115
116
117
120
121
122
123
124
125
128
129
130
131
132
133
136
137
138
139

X

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

Maqamat of Hariri, Si.ileymaniye library, Esad Efendi 2916,
fol. 180
36 Maqamat of Hariri, Si.ileymaniye library, Esad Efendi 2916,
fol. 184v
37 Maqamat of Hariri, Si.ileymaniye library, Esad Efendi 2916,
fol. 188v
38 Maqamat of Hariri, Si.ileymaniye library, Esad Efendi 2916,
fol. 192
39 Maqamat of Hariri, Si.ileymaniye library, Esad Efendi 2916,
fol. 198
40 Maqamat of Hariri, Si.ileymaniye library, Esad Efendi 2916,
fol. 204
41 Maqamat of Hariri, Si.ileymaniye library, Esad Efendi 2916,
fol. 207v
42 Maqamat of Hariri, Si.ileymaniye library, Esad Efendi 2916,
fol. 2IIV
35

Battle between Ardawan and Ardashir. Institute of Art, Detroit
Execution of Ardawan
The coffin of lraj brought to Faridun
Faridun holding !raj's head
Funeral of Isfandiyar
Funeral of Rustam. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
The Bier of Alexander. Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

6

7

VIII
1

141
144
145
146
147
148
149

Notes on the Iconography of the "Demotte" Shahname

VII
1
2
3
4
5

140

155
156
158
160
161
162
163

The Illustrated Maqamat of the Thirteenth Century: The
Bourgeoisie and the Arts

Abu Zayd departing. Paris, arabe 5847
House. Istanbul manuscript
Mosque. Istanbul manuscript
Khan. Paris, arabe 5847
Village. Paris, arabe 5847
Palace. Paris, arabe 5847
Arab types with qadi. Paris, arabe 5847
Woman. Paris, arabe 3929

2

3
4
5

6

7
8

IX
1
2

Pictures or Commentaries: The Illustrations of the Maqamat of
al-Hariri
Paris arabe 5847, fol. 101; thirty-second maqama
Paris arabe 5847, fol. roov; thirty-second maqama

188
190

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

II
12
13

Leningrad 523, fol. 223; thirty-second maqama
London, oriental 1200, fol. 106; thirty-second maqama
Paris arabe 5847, fol. 29v; eleventh maqama
Paris arabe 3929, fol. 30; eleventh maqama
Paris arabe 3929, fol. 30v; eleventh maqama
Paris arabe 5847, fol. 33; twelfth maqama
Paris arabe 3929, fol. 34v; twelfth maqama
Paris arabe 3929, fol. 68v; thirty-first maqama
Paris arabe 5847, fol. 8v; third maqama
London add. 22.II4, fol. 59v; twenty-first maqama
Vienna, AF 9, fol. 70; twenty-first maqama

XI

Toward an Aesthetic of Persian Painting

3
4
5

6

7
8
9
IO

I

2

3

4
5

6

7
8
9
IO

II
12
13

Khosrow Enthroned, from Nizami, Khamseh, British Library or.
2265, fol. 6ov; ascribed to Aqa Mirak, c. 1540
Court Scene. Left side of a double-page frontispiece from a
manuscript of the Shahname of Firdausi. Colors and gold on
paper. Iran, c. 1440. © The Cleveland Museum of Art, 1995.
Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund, 56.10
Court Scene. Right side of a double-page frontispiece from a
manuscript of the Shahname of Firdausi. Colors and gold on
paper. Iran, c. 1440. © The Cleveland Museum of Art, 1995,
John L. Severance Fund, 45.169
Humay and Humayun in a Garden, from a lost Khwaju
Kirmani, Khamseh, Paris, Musee des Arts Decoratifs, c. 1430
Young Man Playing a Lute, late sixteenth century
Caricature (?) of holy people (?), Istanbul, Hazine 2153, fol. 46
Beggar at a Mosque, from Sa'adi, Bustan, Cairo, National
Library, adab farsi 908, dated 1488 in Herat, signed by Behzad
Valley of Quest, Divan of Sultan Ahmad Jalayir, Freer Gallery
of Art, Washington, DC, 32.30
Valley ofAstonishment, Divan of Sultan Ahmad Jalayir, Freer
Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, 32.33
Valley ofDetachment, Divan of Sultan Ahmad Jalayir, Freer
Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, 32.34
Valley ofDetachment, Divan of Sultan Ahmad Jalayir, Freer
Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, 32.35
Valley of Unity, Divan of Sultan Ahmad Jalayir, Freer Gallery
of Art, Washington, DC, 32.37
The Meeting ofHumay and Azar, Divan of Khwaju Kirmani,
British Library Add. r8II3, dated 1396, painted by Junayd,
fol_ IIV

XI

191
192
194
195
196
197
198
199
200
202
203

215

216

217
218
219
221
226
232
233
234
235
236
238

XII

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

14

Humay at the Court of China, Divan of Khwaju Kirmani,
British Library Add. 18113, dated 1396, painted by Junayd,
fol. 20
Humay in front ofHumayun's Castle, Divan of Khwaju
Kirmani, British Library Add. 18113, dated 1396, painted by
Junayd, fol. 26v
Combat ofHumay with Humayun, Divan of Khwaju Kirmani,
British Library Add. 18113, dated 1396, painted by Junayd,
fol. 31
After the Consummation ofthe Wedding, Divan of Khwaju
Kirmani, British Library Add. 18113, dated 1396, painted by
Junayd, fol. 45
Funeral Procession, Mantiq al-Tayr by Farid al-Din Attar,
copied in Herat in 1483. The Metropolitan Museum of Art,
Fletcher Fund, 63.210.35
Assar, Mihr and Mushtari, dated 1477, copied by Shaykh
Murshid al-Katib. Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, 49.3

15

16

17

18
19

239

241

242

243
245
250

XII About two Mughal Miniatures

Padshahname: The siege of Dawlatabad, Ex. Cat. 31. by
permission of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II
Padshahname: Jahangir receives Prince Khurram, Ex. Cat. 37.
by permission of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II

1
2

XIII

1
2

256
257

A Preliminary Note on two Eighteenth-century Representations
of Mecca and Medina

Mecca
Medina

Part Three: Architecture and Culture

XV
1
2
3
4
5
6

Isfahan as a Mirror of Persian Architecture
Isfahan, the so-called Jurjir mosque, fac;:ade, tenth century
Isfahan, Masjed-e Jom'eh, air view
Isfahan, Masjed-e Jom'eh, qiblah dome from the outside, late
eleventh century
Merv, tomb of Sultan Sanjar, c. 1150-60
Dashti, qiblah dome in mosque, fourteenth century
Samarkand, Bibi Khanom mosque, qiblah dome, early
fifteenth century

278
279
280
281
282
283

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

7
8
9
IO
II

12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
XVI
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9

Isfahan, Masjed-e Jom'eh, North dome, outside, late eleventh
century
Isfahan, Masjed-e Jom'eh, North dome, inside of dome
Isfahan, Masjed-e Jom'eh, North dome, interior of room
Isfahan, Masjed-e Jom'eh, North dome, muqarnas squinch
Ziyar (near Isfahan), minaret, twelfth century
Gonbad-e Qabus, tower-mausoleum, early eleventh century
Sultaniyah, mausoleum of Oljaytu, early fourteenth century
Tayabad, mausoleum of Zayn al-Din, fourteenth-fifteenth
century
Isfahan, Masjed-e Jom'eh, North dome, detail of wall
decoration
Bukhara, Kalayan minaret, detail, early twelfth century
Isfahan, Meydan-e Shah, air view
Isfahan, Meydan-e Shah, portal of Masjed-e Shah, late
sixteenth century
Isfahan, Meydan-e Shah, qiblah dome of mosque
Isfahan, Meydan-e Shah, detail of tile work
Isfahan, Shaykh Lotfollah sanctuary, fo;:ade
Isfahan, Shaykh Lotfollah, dome from inside
Isfahan, Ali Qapu
Isfahan, Ali Qapu section (after Zander)
Isfahan, Ali Qapu, detail of stucco vaulting
Isfahan, Masjed-e Shah, section
Mashad, Gawhar Shad madrasa, fa c;:ade on court, fifteenth
century
Robat Sharaf, caravanserai, detail of wall decoration, twelfth
century

XIII

284
285
286
287
288
289
290
290
291
292
293
294
295
296
297
298
299
300
301
302
303

Reflections on Mamluk Art
Basin, c. 1330. British Museum, London, no. 51, 1-41
Candlestick, 1482-83. Museum of Islamic Art, Cairo, no. 4297
Ewer, c. 1300. Museum of Islamic Art, Cairo, no. 15089
Penbox, 1304-05. Louvre, Paris, no. 3621
Qur'an box, c. 1330. Museum oflslamic Art, Cairo, no. 183
Lamp, second half of the fourteenth century, Museum of
Islamic Art, Cairo, no. 15123
Frontispiece, Qur'an, c. 1370. Egyptian National Library,
Cairo, MS 54, fol. 2a
Finispiece, Qur'an, 1334. Egyptian National Library, Cairo,
MS 81, fol. 378a
Haram al-Sharif, Jerusalem; elevations (Drawing by Michael
Burgoyne)

308
309
311
312
313
314
315
316
320

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

XIV

IO
n
12
13

Madrasa of Sultan Hasan, Cairo; plan
Madrasa of Sultan Hasan, Cairo
Nineteenth-century drawing of a street in Cairo (Drawing
after Prisse d'Avennes)
Reconstruction of a street in Jerusalem; plan (Drawing by
Michael Burgoyne)

XVII
1

3
4
XX
1

3
4
5

325

332
337
340
341

The Crusades and the Development of Islamic Art
Cairo, mosque madrasa of Sultan al-Nasir, portal from
Ascalon, c. 1303 (courtesy of Nasser Rabbat)
Divrigi, mosque, northwest portal, thirteenth century
(courtesy of 0-lki.i Bates)
Louvre, ewer or aquamanile in the shape of a peacock, inv. no.
MR 1519 (drawing after Adrien de Longperier)
Urtuqid plate, first half of the twelfth century, Innsbruck
Mantle of Roger II, dated n33-34, Vienna

2

323

An Exhibition of High Ottoman Art

Shirt made for �ehzade Selim in 1564-65. Istanbul, Topkap1
Serayi 13/1133
Suleyman the Magnificent, as seen by Melchior Lorichs, dated
1559
The dev;irme. Suleymanname, fol. 316
Soldiers in a tree avoiding a flood. Suleymanname, fol. 266a

2

321
322

366
367
373
374
375

Part Four: Islamic Art and the West

XXV

Islamic Art and Architecture and the Antique

1

Location of the sites in Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, Syria,
Mesopotamia, and Iraq mentioned in the text
2 The Great Mosque of Damascus
3 A representation of the Tazza Farnese in the Diez Album
4 Detail from the mosaic pavement in the bath hall at Khirbat
al-Mafjar
5 Detail from the mosaic pavement in the bath hall at Khirbat
al-Mafjar
6 Detail from the wall mosaic in the Great Mosque of
Damascus
7 Stucco sculpture from Khirbat al-Mafjar
8 Ground plan of the Umayyad palace in Mshatta

424
425
426
427
428
429
430
431

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

9
IO
II

12
13
14

Detail of the external wall decoration of the palace in
Mshatta
Wall painting in a Hellenistic mode in the bath at Qusayr
'Amrah
Portal of Nur al-Din's hospital in Damascus
Student in front of a scholar. Miniature from a manuscript in
Arabic of the Materia Medica, 1229
Dome of the Hall of the Two Sisters in the Alhambra
The Siileymaniye mosque in Istanbul, by Sinan (1550-57)

XV

432
433
434
435
436
437

Preface

Beyond the usual objectives of prefaces to thank those who helped in the
preparation of these books and to identify the technical idiosyncrasies of
their appearance, this particular preface is also meant to explain and justify
these four independent volumes given the general title of Constructing the
Study ofIslamic Art, I954-2004.
These volumes include eighty-three articles published during a period of
half a century. These articles constitute about two thirds of the contributions
I made over the years to periodical literature, encyclopedias and collective
books of one sort or another (with some exceptions noted below). Almost all
book reviews have been eliminated, as have articles which contain major
mistakes or which lead to incorrect conclusions without the redeeming value
of useful reasoning or of otherwise unavailable data. Chapters or sections in
historical or art-historical surveys or in introductions to Islamic culture have
been excluded for the most part. Most of these, like those written for
volumes 4 and 5 of the Cambridge History of Iran, for The World of Islam
(London, 1976, with many subsequent editions) , for the Larousse Histoire de
!'Art (Paris, 1985), the Encyclopedia Britannica (Chicago, 1974), or the Grove
Dictionary ofArt (New York, 1996), are reasonably valid summaries of the
state of knowledge at the time of their appearance, sometimes a generation
ago. But they are dated by now and make better sense in the context of the
volumes in which they appear rather than as contributions to scholarship.
And, in any event, nearly all of them are available in most reference libraries.
Just as with any retrospective, there is an element of self-centered vanity
for any author or artist to present anew his or her achievements. The
usefulness of the task lies, primarily, in making accessible items which were
often spread in many different and sometimes inaccessible places and,
secondarily, in reflecting the evolution of a field and of a person during
decades of many changes in the academic as well as political and cultural
spheres. Even this large selection reflects only part of the energies and efforts
of a life of learning and of teaching. Large numbers of files, photographs and
hand-written notes have been preserved in the archives kept under the
names of Andre and Oleg Grabar at the Getty Research Institute in Los
Angeles. Some documents were passed on to former students and colleagues
or given to a few institutions in places with restricted facilities for learning
or to young scholars who could profit from them immediately. In providing
XVII

XVIII

PREFACE

such gifts, I followed, more modestly, the example of Eric Schroeder (190471), curator of lslamic art at the Fogg Museum of Art, Harvard University,
who, when he knew that his days were numbered by a fatal disease, passed
on to me and to a few other young colleagues some of his books and notes.
W hat he gave me is now, duly inscribed by him, at the Getty Research
Institute or in the possession of younger scholars. And there is something
soothing in continuing in this manner to preserve the use of resources for
scholarship.
The first decision to be made, after selecting the articles to be included, was
how to organize them. One way could have been according to the different
methodological directions taken by these studies. Such an approach could
have been justified by the two directions suggested in a couple of short
articles written when I was in my early twenties, which are not included in
this selection. One is a precise and detailed presentation of two unusual and
until then unpublished bronze coins of the early thirteenth century minted
by a minor ruler of the northern Jazirah, the upper Mesopotamian valley
now in Turkey; their analysis led to comments on the meaning of the word
sultan as a title.' The other one is the hypothesis that a verse attributed to an
Umayyad caliph can explain a very fragmentary painting in the bath of
Qusayr 'Amrah, even though there is no reason to believe that the verse or its
author had anything to do with the painting.2 In the first instance, all
references are to written or numismatic evidence from the time of the coins
involved, in the second one none are (even the verse is only known from a
later source) , and much of the bibliography deals with arguments around
the representation of royal power. The information in the first article has by
now been superseded and the second one was incorporated in a later book,

The Formation ofIslamic Art.

Alternately, the articles could have been put in the chronological sequence
of their appearance, which would have illustrated the development of an
individual's scholarly thinking and interests and the ways in which that
thinking and these interests were affected by new information and by changing
intellectual fashions. But we finally settled on a compromise: two volumes
reflecting the history of the Islamic world and of its art, and two others with
a thematic focus.
There is, first, the early Islamic period, these first centuries which
transformed an enormous area into a primarily Muslim one. Then there is
the Islamic visual culture which overwhelmed these territories and which is
still the dominant one from Senegal to the Philippines. But then, no one
dealing with Islamic art can avoid explaining to himself or herself and to
'
2

"On Two Coins of Muzaffar Ghazi," American Numismatic Society Museum Notes 5
(1953) .
"The Painting of the Six Kings at Qusayr Amrah," Ars Orienta/is, 1 (1954).

PREFACE

XIX

others what it is that characterizes that art in contrast or as a parallel to other
traditions, especially, for the medievalist that I was as a student, to Christian
art with many of the same sources. The search for verbal formulas to explain
visual phenomena or for the ideological bases of the arts is an endless pursuit
that often has to respond to new challenges of thought and of political and
cultural events. Furthermore, the unique ways of Islamic art as it formed
itself and as it developed lead to important issues of the history and criticism
of art. In the late 1970s, I began a long and fruitful association with the Aga
Khan Foundation and I was introduced to contemporary activities in art
and architecture, as well as in the complex operation of cultural policies.
Thus a third volume is devoted to general ideas on Islamic art up to our own
time and to the theories derived from it or applied to it. And then, partly by
accident, I began my acquaintance with the Islamic world and with the Near
East in Jerusalem, and I have devoted much time and effort to understanding
its monuments and their meaning over the centuries. A whole volume is
devoted to that extraordinary city and it includes one totally new contribution,
a lengthy response and reaction to the many works on Jerusalem which have
appeared during the past fifteen years.
This division is an interpretation of fifty years of scholarly activities. But I
hope that it will be of better use for other scholars than a purely chronological
one would have been or the artificial one of various poles of scholarly
procedures. Yet it is not entirely possible to separate the shadows of one's
scholarly life from one's written accomplishments. For this reason, short
introductions to each volume seek to recall the atmosphere surrounding
many of the works and especially the people and institutions who over the
decades created a context for learning and for growing which is almost
impossible to imagine in the academic world of today. For Volume I, I shall
introduce the archaeologists and archaeological institutions which helped
and inspired me, especially in the 1950s and the 1960s. In Volume II, I shall
mention the teaching and research institutions that became my home for
nearly forty years and the fascinating evolution that took place in the ways
students and colleagues in the United States and elsewhere became involved
in the study of Islamic art. For Volume III, I shall sketch out the festival of
ideas that accompanied so much of my academic life and some of the non­
academic activities which, from the late 1970s, played an important role in
the processes of my learning. Finally, when dealing with Jerusalem, I shall
sketch the unique circumstances of working in the Holy City during the
1950s and 1960s.
The initial division of the articles was proposed as early as the late 1990s
by Professor Cynthia Robinson, who first assisted me in sorting them out.
But I had too many other commitments to fulfill at that time and could not
manage to concentrate on the project in suitable fashion. Then, in 2001, the
Institute for Advanced Study agreed to support the project of a retired
professor and the Mellon Foundation provided the funds needed for a full-

XX

PREFACE

time assistant. Mika Natif, a finishing graduate student at the Institute of
Fine Arts of New York University, took on the job. She helped in making the
final choice of publications to be included, devised and proposed the
arrangement of articles found in these volumes, and undertook the tasks of
scanning articles published in many different journals into a single format,
of gathering illustrations, and, in general, of keeping the project going. Her
sharp and critical mind was essential in transforming what could well have
become a disorganized exercise into a reasonably coherent whole for future
scholars and critics. W ithout her energy, dedication and commitment, these
books could not have been completed and I owe her a deep debt of gratitude
for having stuck with the life and works of an older generation than hers.
Additional help was gracefully and intelligently provided by Elizabeth Teague,
the copy editor, and I am most grateful to her.
Thanks are also due to two institutions. One is the Aga Khan Trust for
Culture, which contributed to the publication of these books through
ArchNet, a branch of the Aga Khan Program in Architecture at Harvard
University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I was involved in
the early creation of the program and am grateful to Dr Shiraz Allibhai,
manager of the program, and to Dr Luis Monreal, the head of the Trust in
Geneva, for having continued to support my work so many years later. The
second institution is the Institute for Advanced Study from whose School of
Historical Studies I retired in 1998. Two successive directors, Dr Philip
Griffith and Dr Peter Goddard, supported all aspects of the work involved
in preparing these volumes and in making available to Mika Natif and to me
the technical facilities of the Institute and the expertise of its staff in particular
Julia Bernheim, who compiled the index. A special word of thanks is due to
Rachel Gray, Associate Director of the Institute, through whom all needs
and requests were channeled. A last expression of gratitude goes to John
Smedley from Ashgate Publishing, who, I suspect, did not quite know what
he was getting himself into when he agreed to consider the publication of
the eighty-odd articles found in these volumes. His gracious help and patience
and the quiet efficiency of Celia Hoare were essential to the completion of
the work. The following institutions gave permission to reproduce articles
and pictures published under their copyright: Pennsylvania State University
Press, Dumbarton Oaks, E. J. Brill, Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian
Institution, New York University Press, Ukrainian Research Institute, Harvard
University, Metropolitan Museum of Art, State University of New York
Press, Israel Exploration Journal.
A number of editorial decisions were made to ensure consistency across
all four volumes, to simplify the task of publishing them, and to facilitate
the use of the books. Diacritical marks and macrons were given up altogether.
The hamza is shown as ' and the 'ayn as ' . The date and place of the original
publication of each article are indicated with an asterisk on the first page of
each article. All notes are put at the bottom of pages. References to the

PREFACE

XX.I

original pagination are given in square brackets. Not all original illustrations
have been included. Some prints or negatives could no longer be located and
scanning or photographing anew a mediocre print seemed senseless. At
times substitutions were found and in a few instances original illustrations
were simply omitted. Typos were corrected whenever we noticed them and
minor emendations were made to the original texts to ensure clarity of
expression. Bibliographical notes were not brought up to date, except when
works announced in the notes were actually published. I should add that
several chapters in this volume complement each other and reuse or modify
comparable arguments. We did not try to correlate them to each other.

Acknowledgments

The chapters in this volume were first published as follows:
I
II

III
IV
V
VI
VII

VIII
IX

X
XI

XII

"Two Pieces of Metalwork at the University of Michigan, " Ars
Orienta/is, 4 (1961), pp. 360-68.
"Les arts mineurs de !'Orient musulman a partir du milieu du XIIe
siecle, " Cahiers de Civilisation Medievale (Universite de Poitiers,
Avril-Juin 1968) , pp. 181-90.
"Trade with the East and the Influence of Islamic Art on the
'Luxury Arts' of the West, " fl Medio Oriente e !'Occidente nell 'arte
def XIII Secolo, ed. H. Belting (Bologna, 1982), pp. 27-32.
"The Shared Culture of Objects, " Byzantine Court Culture from 829
to I204 (Washington, DC, 1997) , pp. 115-29.
"Epigrafika Vostoka, A Critical Review, " Ars Orienta/is, 2 (1957) , pp.
547-60.
"A Newly Discovered Illustrated Manuscript of the Maqamat of
Hariri, " Ars Orienta/is, 5 (1963) , pp. 97-109.
"Notes on the Iconography of the 'Demotte' Shah-nama," Paintings
from Islamic Lands, ed. R. Pinder-Wilson (London, 1969) , pp. 3147.
"The Illustrated Maq amat of the Thirteenth Century: The
Bourgeoisie and the Arts, " The Islamic City, ed. A. Hourani (Oxford,
1970) , pp. 207-22.
"Pictures or Commentaries: The Illustrations of the Maqamat of al­
Hariri, " Studies in Art and Literature of the Near East in Honor of
RichardEttinghausen, ed. Peter J. Chelkowski (Middle Eastern Center
University of Utah and New York University Press, 1974), pp. 85104.
"About an Arabic Dioskorides Manuscript, " Byzantine East, Latin
West: Art-Historical Studies in Honor ofKurt Weitzmann (Princeton,
1995), PP· 361-3.
"Toward an Aesthetic of Persian Painting," The Art ofInterpreting:
Papers in Art History (Pennsylvania State University, 1995) , pp. 12939.
"About two Mughal Miniatures, " Damaszener Mitteilungen
(Festschrift Michael Meinecke), 11 (1999), pp. 179-83.
XXIII

XXIV

XIII
XIV

XV

XVI
XVII

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

"A Preliminary Note on two 18 th century representations of Mekka
and Madina, " Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam, 25 (2001), pp.
268-74.
"The Inscriptions of the Madrasah-Mausoleum of Qaytbay, " Studies
in Honour of George Miles, ed. Dickran K. Kouymjian (American
University of Beirut, 1974), pp. 465-8.
"Isfahan as a Mirror of Persian Architecture, " in R. Ettinghausen
and E. Yarshater, eds, Highlights ofPersian Art (Boulder, 1979), pp.
213-42.
"Reflections on Mamluk Art," Muqarnas, 2 (New Haven and
London: Yale University Press, 1984), pp. 1-12.
"An Exhibition of High Ottoman Art, " Muqarnas, 6 (1989), pp. 111.

XVIII

XIX
XX

XXI

XXII
XXIII
XXIV

XXV

"The Meanings of Sinan's Architecture," A. Akta-Yasa, ed.,
Uluslararasi Mimar Sinan Sempozyomu Bildirileri (Ankara, 1996),
pp. 275-83.
"The Many Gates of Ottoman Art, " Art Turc/Turkish Art, tenth
international Congress of Turkish Art (Geneva, 1999), pp. 19-26.
"The Crusades and the Development of Islamic Art, " in A. E.
Laiou and R. P. Mottahedeh, eds, The Crusades from the Perspective
of Byzantium and the Muslim World (Washington, 2001), pp. 23545.
"Islamic Architecture and the West: Influences and Parallels, " Islam
and the Medieval West, ed. Stanley Ferber (Binghamton, 1975), pp.
60-66.
"Patterns and Ways of Cultural Exchange, " in V. P. Goss, ed., The
Meeting ofTwo Worlds (Kalamazoo, 1986), pp. 441-6.
"Europe and the Orient: An Ideologically Charged Exhibition,"
Muqarnas, 7 (1990), pp. 1-11.
"Classical Forms in Islamic Art and Some Implications, "
Kunstlerischer Austausch: Artistic Exchange, Akten des XXVIII.
Internationalen Kongresses for Kunstgeschichte, Berlin 15-20 July 1992.
Herausgegeben von Thomas W. Gaehtgens, pp. 35-42.
"Memorie dell'arte classica nel mondo islamico, " S. Settis, ed., I
Greci, vol. 3 (Turin, 2001), pp. 797-815.

We would like to thank all individuals, publishers and institutions for their
permission to reproduce articles and illustrations published under their
copyright. Every effort has been made to trace the copyright holders, but if
any have been inadvertently overlooked the publisher will be pleased to
make the necessary arrangement at the first opportunity.

Introduction

The articles gathered in this second volume of Constructing the Study of
Islamic Art cover the centuries between the eleventh and the sixteenth that
witnessed the development of lslamic art as an original cultural phenomenon
in all lands ruled by Muslims. Priority is given to what has, wrongly, been
called the Seljuq period in the central lands of the Near and Middle East,
from Egypt to Central Asia in the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries.
And then there are extensions of what was happening in the Ottoman,
Mamluk, post-Mongol Iranian and Mughal worlds of Anatolia, the Balkans,
Syria, Egypt, Iran, Central Asia, and even India. The study of illustrated
manuscripts predominates over essays on architecture and objects. The reason
for this imbalance lies in some of the academic directions I was given as a
graduate student at Princeton University and in the many weeks of
investigations in the manuscript collections of the Bibliotheque Nationale in
Paris, the British Library (then Museum), the Bodleian in Oxford, and the
many libraries in Istanbul.
Most of my work in Istanbul took place before the major transformations
in the organization of the museums and collections of that city which made
everything more accessible and more bureaucratic, but so much less adventurous.
In the Suleymaniye library, the one attached to Aya Sofya, or in Ahmet Ill's
pavilion in the Top Kap1 Serai museum, I was usually the only reader,
occasionally joined by an eccentric gentleman who was or had been an art
teacher at Galataseray and claimed to be the only practicing yogi in Istanbul.
We spoke French and became good friends to the point that he invited me for
what I thought was dinner in the house he shared with his mother on a
crooked street somewhere beyond Taksim Square, an area that was still a
lonely and quiet village in these days. The dinner never materialized, for his
real purpose was to make a yogi out of me. Having failed all the tests that
would have led me to a perfect state of non-being, I decided that it was time to
go back to my hotel in Sirkeci, at the other end of town. With some difficulty
I liberated myself and in the middle of the night managed somehow to find
my way to the recently built Hilton hotel. I did not have enough money to
hire a taxi and walked through Istanbul at night. It was lonely and a bit
frightening, but a proper enough adventure for a budding scholar of 27 or 28.
All manuscripts were available without any problem except those which
were exhibited, fortunately very few from the earlier periods that concerned
XXV

XXVI

INTRODUCTION

me primarily. My searches were helped there by a long list of call numbers
given to me by Richard Ettinghausen, then at the Freer Gallery in Washington,
about whom I will have more to say further on. I saw the soon-to-become
celebrated albums when they were still bound in leather binders and I felt
like a youthful explorer in a territory that had hardly been charted and
whose magic key was the box of sweets from Haci Bekir which I shared
regularly with all the guards and with whoever was in the reading rooms. I
managed to obtain microfilms of many of these early illustrated manuscripts
from the newly created photographic center at the Siileymaniye. They are
now deposited at the University of Michigan, but I fear that half a century
of rolled-up existence has not preserved well documents in a technology by
now obsolete and on poor-quality film.
The most significant feature of these studies and essays is that, in contrast
to the archaeological bent of Volume I, the theoretical considerations of
Volume III, and the focus on Jerusalem of Volume IV, they illustrate my
involvement with the History of Art in the second half of the twentieth
century.
Until the latter part of the century, the art of Islamic lands played an ill­
defined role among the concerns of the History of Art. It was ignored by the
grand tradition of attributions and interpretations that issued from the
study of the Renaissance, southern or northern, except when it occasionally
appeared as an "influence" or as a form of exoticism. Nor did it have much
to do with the national or post-modernist concerns of those who dealt with
Europe or the United States in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, for
these were centuries for which, at least at that time, the uniqueness of the
European development of the arts was not questioned. It did, however,
become a sort of avocation for three very different groups of scholars and
amateurs, often with unusual intellectual pedigrees and idiosyncratic personal
histories.
There were, first of all, medievalists and practitioners of the newly
established cultural sphere of Late Antiquity who saw in Islamic art either a
competing parallel to the Christian art with which they primarily dealt or
one of the ends of a long-evolving formal development that issued from
classical and Iranian Antiquity. Alois Riegl and Josef Stzygowski in Vienna
were the torch-bearers for reflections and investigations that were picked up
in a more systematic scholarly form by Meyer Schapiro, Rudi Wittkower,
Andre Grabar, Kurt Weitzmann, Hugo Buchthal, E. Baldwin Smith, Ernst
Kantorowitz and Jorgis Baltrusaitis, among others. None of these scholars
learned or knew the languages of the Islamic world and none claimed a
competent understanding of Islamic culture, but they all felt that their own
medieval studies of the arts were incomplete without the presence of the
Islamic world.
I was trained and formed by this particular tradition, partly because
several among these men were my teachers, but mostly because they

INTRODUCTION

XXVII

encouraged their students to enter into areas they had only partly investigated
and sometimes wished they knew better. Even now, more than half a century
later, it is with some emotion that I recall how Baldwin Smith, Kurt
Weitzmann and Andre Grabar, with whom I associated most particularly,
encouraged me, because they had the vision of a broad spectrum of history,
some of whose components they were not able to handle. The tall, austere,
and reserved Baldwin Smith took notes and carefully recorded bibliographical
information (these were days before easily available techniques for the
preparation of handouts) during my seminar report on Sasanian royal art as
well as during another student's report on Mshatta. Kurt Weitzmann
encouraged me to study the Maqamat illustrations and the Demotte Shahname
because he thought that these sets of miniatures would demonstrate the
global validity of his ways of dealing with manuscript illustrations. I, together
with Wen Fong, who was destined for a brilliant career in Princeton and the
Metropolitan Museum of Art, were to be the missionaries into Asia of
Weitzmann's methods with Buchwesen.
Yet, even though I was formed by this art-historical tradition, it was not
the tradition that first inspired me. Nor was I inspired by a second tradition
consisting of men involved with Islamic art who did not come from the
university but either from the making of works of art, particularly but not
exclusively the technology of architecture, or from the exciting adventure of
collecting. From the time, in the early nineteenth century, of Owen Jones's
Grammar of Ornament to the creation, in the second half of the century, of
the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Musee des Arts Decoratifs
in Paris, or the Museum for angewandte Kunst in Vienna, institutions and
technical experts, the latter often associated with the development of colonial
empires in North Africa, Egypt, or India, found in the Islamic world concrete
motifs of decoration, techniques for the transformation of surfaces, and
architectural forms that were used as exoticisms but could also compel
revisions in a Western-oriented history, as with providing an honorable
place for ornament next to works of "higher" arts. W hatever aspect of
Islamic art was involved, the arts themselves seduced many legitimate and
respectable collectors like Henri Vever, Raymond Koechlin and Louis Cartier
in France, Wilhelm von Bode and P. Schultz in Germany, Ivan Stchoukine
in Russia, Chester Beatty and Basil Robinson in England, David in Denmark,
and also more disreputable ones like the Swedish diplomat F. R. Martin who
acquired, probably illegally, many treasures from Istanbul libraries, or a
French ambassador to Turkey and Iran who obtained a first-rate gathering of
Persian painting in the countries in which he served and who took it out of
these countries in the diplomatic pouch.
The collecting instinct led to the growth of a highly sophisticated system
of dealers who, especially in Iran, toured the countryside, organized
excavations of their own, and distributed their finds through shops, often
held by their relatives, in Paris, London, or New York. Collecting always

XXVIII

INTRODUCTION

involved money and sometimes deals that were not always legal or proper.
But the more repulsive side of collecting, the side which is so clearly opposed
to the aims of scholarship, is secrecy. There is a secrecy of information and a
secrecy of ownership. The former is intellectually unacceptable because the
unwritten code of honor of the academic profession is that knowledge must
always be shared and cannot be copyrighted. Secrecy of ownership is equally
reprehensible, because it withholds from view some of the most important
works of Islamic art and often introduces into research a social and snobbish
component which does not belong there. W hen I was working, at the
University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, on the so-called Demotte Shahname,
which had been split between many collections, some miniatures were simply
unavailable for study, because they were in private hands. I was thus refused
the possibility of seeing one of these miniatures, which was in the possession
of a notable New York family. Once I joined the Faculty at Harvard University,
an institution of allegedly higher social prestige, the invitation to see the
miniature was extended to me. I refused the offer and only saw the painting
once it entered a public collection.
There is still something revolting about all the treasures allegedly, and
often actually, kept in the vaults of Swiss banks. The activities that surrounded
the break-up of the great sixteenth-century Shahname of Shah Tahmasp and
the ultimate fate of its miniatures are among the saddest episodes of the
fairly recent history of Islamic art. It is sad, even though the exchange of
Shahname pages for an abstract painting by an American artist on the
tarmac of the Vienna airport smacks of comedy rather than of serious
scholarly pursuit. An equally disreputable story was spun in the 1950s and
1960s around a Persian manuscript known as the Andarzname, whose ninety­
odd miniatures were dated to the late eleventh century, which would have
made them the earliest example of the Islamic art of the book. The Cincinnati
Art Museum had acquired one half of the manuscript, while the other half
remained invisible in the hands of a dealer who exhibited it once only in a
Paris show of Persian art. All but one of the then specialists in the field
thought that the manuscript might well be genuine, but some doubts were
slowly creeping in. The dealer who then owned half of the manuscript used
the occasion of a Congress of Orientalists in Munich in 1956 or 1957 to
gather most of us for a lunch in a fancy restaurant and, in a fiery speech,
chided the profession for not trusting its eyes to judge new works of art but
preferring the judgment of laboratory technicians. He was right, for, at a
later meeting in New York of the Congress for Persian Art, some time in the
mid-196os, Richard Ettinghausen dramatically opened a sealed letter which
contained laboratory-made pigment analyses of some five or six miniatures
which clearly showed them to be fakes. Whether this judgment should stand
for the whole manuscript is still an open question to my mind, although
after the time of the New York meeting, I became aware of many doubtful
features on pages which had not been analyzed. W hat is remarkable is that

INTRODUCTION

XXIX

no one even talks about the manuscript any longer, however interesting the
lessons may be which can be drawn from it, even if it turns out to be indeed
a forgery.
Possessiveness did occasionally affect public institutions. Edgar Blocher, a
serious scholar well versed in Persian and Arabic, even though given at times
to wild interpretations, was curator of oriental manuscripts at the Bibliotheque
Nationale in Paris. He considered that particular public collection so
profoundly his own that his own published catalog of its Persian manuscripts
identified each manuscript with a different number from its actual call
number. The latter can be found by those who know the system he created
within the mass of technical information provided about each manuscript.
But his aim was to discourage access to manuscripts by printing false
information about them, certainly an immoral procedure. This was no
doubt an extreme case, but still now manuscripts in libraries and objects in
museums cannot always be studied simply and automatically like a printed
book or a periodical in libraries.
It is relatively easy to condemn these secretive practices, especially when
they are indulged in and enforced by the bureaucracies that run some public
institutions. But it is important to recall that a degree of control over access
to precious objects or books is necessitated by the fragility of so many
remains from the past. Furthermore, and more importantly, it is the passion
of collectors and dealers that preserved so many works of Islamic and other
arts. At times, as with ceramics or miniatures, this passion channeled the
field in the direction of connoisseurship and attributions that may no longer
be fashionable today but that certainly set the tone for research and
investigations for a long time. And then passions, even when wrong-headed
and improperly restrictive, have certain rights and privileges, because they
extol the endless variety of men and women rather than the drab sameness
of institutions. Arbitrary restrictions were few in those days, but personal
contacts and recommendations played a major role in providing access to
often uncataloged and unclassified documents. There is little doubt that, for
me, my father's name and reputation were often a password to many
institutions.
Collectors and museums provided an approach to the arts which was,
possibly still is, perfectly acceptable, but certainly not one I appreciated. A
curious episode in which I made the decision not to work in a museum
without quite realizing what I was doing occurred some time in the 1950s. I
had come to New York to give a lecture, I believe, at the Metropolitan
Museum of Art. The then curator or acting curator of Islamic art was
Charles Wilkinson, a particularly attractive combination of orientalist
archaeologist and connoisseur of beautiful things, who invited me and my
wife for dinner at his home, in those days a routine procedure for visiting
lecturers. The other guests turned out to be James Rorimer, the Director of
the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and his wife. Soon after the exchange of

XXX

INTRODUCTION

normal preliminary social vacuities, Rorimer reported to me that he had
heard that I was not interested in a museum job. He wondered whether I
might not still consider joining the staff of the Metropolitan Museum from
which its long-term curator, Maurice Dimand, had retired. I instinctively
reacted by saying that I was quite happy in a university and the matter did
not go any further. I am sure that, at that time, I had not given any thought
to whether I preferred university employment to museums, but I realize now
that more experienced administrators were aware of basic differences in
attitude and expectations. Once, probably in the late 1960s, I was again
approached to consider a museum position, this time in the Louvre. There
also, a venerable scholar and collector, Jean David-Weil, had retired. De
Gaulle had just appointed as director of all French museums the former
head of the French Institute in Beirut, Henri Seyrig, with whom I was well
acquainted through my father and through my own work in the Near East.
But I did not pursue the matter for reasons that had more to do with my
lack of experience with the administrative bureaucracy of French museums
than with the job itself. Henri Seyrig, an unusually independent individual
who was viscerally immune to bureaucracies, himself did not last very long
in his job. The differences between universities and museums were only, to
my knowledge, bridged, at that time, by one scholar of Islamic art, Richard
Ettinghausen. But, even in his case, the commitment to museums far
outstripped his concern with universities.
The third avenue that, in those days, led, or could lead, to the study of
Islamic art was the one known, in a very positive way, as Orientalism. Its
formative component was the study of languages and cultures or travel
and residence in the lands of the Islamic world. Many archaeologists, in
the richest and widest ways of the profession, as was the case with Ernst
Herzfeld, were formed on that path and some, like Jean Sauvaget, wrote
scathingly and rather unfairly about the foibles of art historians when
compared to orientalizing archaeologists. A very different kind of of art
history came out of the remarkable work of peripatetic architects, who,
like Andre Flandin, Pascal Coste, Max Herz, Andre Godard, became
historians of the arts they encountered in new lands, even if they did not
set out to be historians. From Morocco (Henri Terrasse and Georges
Man;:ais) to India (Charles Ferguson and the compilers of the Archaeological
Survey of India) or Central Asia (the Circle of Friends of Archaeology in
Tashkent), these men recorded what they saw, often visited remote areas
(like Andre Maricq, essentially a philologist and historian with a taste for
exotic travel who discovered the still almost inaccessible Jam minaret in
Afghanistan), noticed important monuments even when they were not
within their sphere of competence (D. Stronach and T. C. Young Jr, both
specialists in the ancient Near East who encountered the Kharraqan
mausoleums of the eleventh century, now well known to all historians of
Islamic architecture), and willy-nilly became historians, at times first-rate

INTRODUCTION

XXXI

ones. The paragon of this architectural Orientalism was K. A. C. Creswell
(1879-1974). His local linguistic talents were limited, but he spent his life
in Cairo, traveled from Iraq to North Africa, and certainly shared many of
the ethnic and racial prejudices associated with the caricature of the
Orientalist. Yet he was devoted to the study of Islamic architecture and
knew how to ask help from those who knew languages better than he did.
And, as a parallel to Creswell, there was also in Cairo Gaston Wiet, a
patriotic veteran of World War I and a good Arabist who became director
of the fairly new Museum of lslamic (then Arab) Art. He wrote himself or
sponsored others to write many catalogs of objects and was one of two or
three standard-bearers of Arabic epigraphy. I knew him well when he
became a professor at the College de France in Paris and was particularly
anxious to help organize the work of younger scholars.
It was some sort of mix of training in general medieval art history under
the intellectual guidance of a very special group of original thinkers and of
an Orientalism in which other worlds had not yet become the "Other" that
directed my first steps in this field. And this is where the striking role of
Richard Ettinghausen in my career as well as the peculiarities of my
professional life come into play.
All those who knew Richard Ettinghausen remember his tall and lanky
body with a sharply defined head that made him look at times like a bird of
prey, for instance when he was surveying the wares in a dealer's shop. His
gentleness and quiet generosity were also proverbial. He had been formed as
an Orientalist. But he came from a family with a great deal of taste for the
arts, and he turned at some point to the study of Islamic art. He had learned
Arabic first, but then during World War II switched to Persian, partly to
teach it within some US government program to develop soldiers with
linguistic training. He loved to speak Persian, although specialists were
amused by some of his expressions, just as he loved to speak French, in a
very old-fashioned European way. But what really happened to him in the
late 1930s and 1940s, in New York and later Ann Arbor, was the extraordinary
growth of an "eye" that would notice the smallest detail on an object and a
memory that could make often unexpected formal, iconographic, or technical
connections. His eyes would shine when he described how he discovered the
importance and the secrets of a given object, as he does for the Wade Cup in
the Cleveland Museum of Art in a film on the collecting of Iranian art in the
United States.
Ettinghausen was a friend and colleague of my father and, partly thanks
to that, he became for me a mentor rather than a teacher, who taught me a
great deal in an unsystematic way, sharing knowledge and information and
especially putting me in contact with people, objects, ideas. He particularly
enjoyed calling me early in the morning, aware as he was that I slept late, to
provide some information on an object we had discussed the day before. It
was only much later, after my father's death, that I discovered that he

XXXII

INTRODUCTION

exercised a sort of beneficent surveillance over my professional life by
reporting, in long letters to my father, about the lectures I gave, the ideas we
discussed, or even the places where we lived.
Three examples illustrate the kind of relationship I had with Ettinghausen,
which was as rare as it was beneficial. The first example took place when I
had written what I thought was the final draft of an article on the Dome of
the Rock and offered it to Ettinghausen for publication in Ars Orienta/is. He
wrote back that he would be happy to publish the article, but also that the
article would be much better if I spent another year on it. In those days,
when there was no pressure to publish, I followed his advice and the article
as published is still read almost fifty years later, apparently with profit.
Then, second example, several years later I returned from Beirut having
acquired a few ceramic objects and fragments of glass for the University of
Michigan Art Museum. I was very proud of my acquisitions and showed
them to Ettinghausen on the occasion of one of his frequent visits in Ann
Arbor. He spent a long time looking at the glass fragments through the
magnifying glass he always kept in his pocket. Then, without saying anything,
he gave me the fragments and the magnifying glass and asked me what I saw.
I answered that I saw very clearly the grooves outlining the design on the
glass. He pointed out to me that these lines were perfectly straight, not
jagged as they would have been if done manually, and that they were etched
with acid, not with a sharp engraving instrument. The design was a
contemporary forgery made with acid, while the glass may well have been
old. His point was not to emphasize to me my amateurish status, but to
show how essential is the observation of details.
And, as a third example, for every one of the trips I organized for graduate
students from the University of Michigan to the Freer Gallery in Washington,
Richard Ettinghausen prepared selections of fragments from the Freer
collection or from his own, nearly all of which had a detail which would
"tell" (his favorite verb, just as "missing link" was his favorite definition of a
detail or even of a whole object) something about the object. He loved to
lead me and the students down the path of mistakes before dramatically
revealing the truth. The writings of Richard Ettinghausen, available in a
single large volume, are wonderful examples of the highest form of scholarship,
creative in imagination and in opening new paths for investigations. There
are unfortunately many works of his that remained unfinished at his death,
lingering only in the memory of those who heard them as lectures or as
items of conversation. Traces of a few of them are found in his letters. He
was an unstoppable correspondent and I still cherish the hand-written pages
he would send from wherever he took his holidays. Many of my elders in his
generation were inveterate letter writers, a habit which no longer exists in
our age of telephones and of email.
Until 1989, when I joined the peaceful and quiet Institute for Advanced
Study in the woods near Princeton University, I had been involved for

INTRODUCTION

XXXIII

thirty-five years in teaching at two very different institutions, in departments
both called then, but no longer now, Departments of Fine Arts.
The University of Michigan had a relatively new department of the
History of Art, but it had the distinction of being the first American
institution, and for a long time the only one, to have a professor of Islamic
art. The post was occupied first by Mehmet Aga-Oglu, a scholar I never met
who was from Azerbayjan and trained in Russia and Vienna. Aga-Oglu must
have been an energetic and creative scholar, who had to leave the University
of Michigan for personal reasons. No one seems to know what happened to
what I heard were elaborate archives of Islamic art. He was replaced by
Richard Ettinghausen who, in turn, moved to the Freer Gallery in Washington
in 1944. No one taught Islamic art there until David Storm Rice in 1953-54,
but his personality did not fit easily with the mood of the university at that
time. He returned to the School of Oriental and African Studies in London
and his departure made it possible for me to be hired at the young age of 25.
The department was a curious amalgam of old and new. There were a few
ghosts from times when the department was a minor oasis of visual culture
in a university with very different strengths. There was Adelaide Adams, a
kind and pleasant woman who taught American art or whatever else needed
to be taught and from whom I acquired a complete set of Ars lslamica, the
only periodical devoted to Islamic art, published by the University of Michigan
and by then out of print. There was James Plummer, who learned about
Chinese art during his many years in the Chinese Customs Service. His
knowledge of Chinese ceramics in particular was immense, but his intellectual
horizon was restricted to a simple evolution of all artistic traditions from
"primitive" to "decadent. " By the time I came to Ann Arbor in 1954, he was
already quite deaf and somewhat eccentric. I remember being struck by an
incident at a lecture, I assume on Japanese ceramics, by Soames Jenyns, of
the British Museum. After Plummer had uttered the appropriate words of
praise in introducing the speaker, he sat in the front row and conspicuously
turned off the hearing aid hanging on his chest. As I recall it, the lecture was
indeed quite dull.
Next to these representatives from another age, there were three very
different but equally striking individuals who were the active senior strength
of the department. There was Harold Wethey, a specialist in late Renaissance
and Baroque art, mostly in Spain; he was a dedicated and hard-working
traditional scholar and connoisseur, full of knowledge and rigorous in
scholarship, but often pedantic and weak on interpretations, a stickler for
rules both in learning and in departmental affairs. There was Max Loehr, a
German Sinologist, who had spent the war years in China after years of
studying in Munich. He impressed me enormously in relating that he spent
seventeen years learning Chinese, Japanese and Sanskrit in order to return to
the study of the arts with which he had begun his university life. From the
study of prehistoric objects all over northern China and Siberia, he had

XXXIV

INTRODUCTION

turned to Chinese painting and developed a unique approach to the
appreciation of the painter's art. Since, during these first years, I had few
students of my own, I attended a couple of Max Loehr's seminars and was
bathed in totally new ways of seeing paintings. We observed the slides on
the screen in total silence before anyone dared to make a comment or to ask
a question. We often argued socially and I remember a particular time when
I made what I thought was a very cogent argument that an ideal history of
art would consist in words alone, without pictures, since a history is a verbal
and mental construct. After a few moments of silence, Max Loehr replied
that an ideal history of art would consist of details of works of art arranged
in such a fashion that evolution or whatever else one wanted to demonstrate
would be obvious to anyone and that no words were needed.
The third member of the scholarly faculty was George H. Forsyth Jr, an
architect, medievalist and architectural historian. He was a true American
aristocrat, tall and handsome, somewhat aloof at first glance, meticulous in
his work, a man of enormous generosity of spirit with a vision for the future.
He had been brought in from Princeton, where he had studied and taught
for many years, in order to create a new and strong department of the
history of art. He became one of the last powerful chairmen who used to
run American universities. Their departments were their fiefdoms and they
saw themselves as providers of funds and support for their vassals, the
assistant professors. I was one of those, many of whom came to play an
important role in the growth of an American history of art. My position
among them was a somewhat privileged one, because of the connection
between the University and the Freer Gallery in Washington, because of the
University's past history in my area, and because of the existence of a fund
for research and publications. George Forsyth understood how important it
was to provide for me time to learn the centuries of artistic growth between
the Atlantic Ocean and China; he negotiated for me three free semesters
during my first four years of teaching which turned out to be of inestimable
value in forming my scholarship and teaching.
Two examples of Forsyth's direction stand out in my mind nearly fifty
years later. One was an extraordinary six-weeks trip he organized from
Beirut to Beirut via Damascus, Palmyra, Baghdad, Mosul, Urfa and Aleppo,
and for which he invited a select group of scholars as well as a photographer.
He then went to Egypt and Mt Sinai. Out of this trip emerged eventually
my excavations at Qasr al-Hayr East in Syria and the Michigan-Princeton
expedition to Sinai. There are many stories attached to this trip from a time
of relatively easy movement in the Near East, but my main point is the sense
George Forsyth had for exploring research possibilities for himself and for
others. The other example took place when he and I realized that young
American students were not likely to flock to the lessons on Islamic art by a
young unknown. He thus proposed that I join the group of instructors
taking turns in teaching the general introduction to the History of Art. Not

INTRODUCTION

XXXV

only did I have to adjust to classes of 200 students after a few years of five or
six poor souls, but it was a wonderful occasion to develop that integration of
Islamic art into world art which led eventually to the appearance of the field
in so many universities.
I should add that such successes as I had were also due to the wonderful
group of young men (this was before the appearance of women on the
faculties of major universities) who came, sometimes only for a few years,
and often shaped a lively and invigorating department, where a full exchange
of ideas was possible without professional jealousies, and where everything
could be tried. These years of innovation affected also my involvement
with young colleagues in a department of Near Eastern Studies developed
energetically, if at times haphazardly, by the Assyriologist and lranist George
Cameron and in all departments dealing with Asia or in a budding Center
for Middle Eastern Studies which made possible academic and linguistic
opportunities impossible at that time to include in traditional departments.
Thanks to a grant, I think from the Rockefeller Foundation, five young
men under 35 devised a then unique year-long introduction to Asia for
undergraduates, in which we all taught all the sections regardless of the
areas being covered. In these years of relatively easy access to funds and
without worries about tenure or promotion, I could at the University of
Michigan develop complex and detailed scholarly searches and find ways
to present to the mass of students both the History of Art and the cultures
of Asia.
I moved to Harvard in 1969 and joined a department of Fine Arts full of
world celebrities, including Max Loehr who had left Michigan a few years
before me, and a Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures as
well as a Center for Middle Eastern Studies that were in the process of
rejuvenating their involvement with the Islamic world. Harvard's Department
of Fine Arts, better known as the Fogg, was still then the bastion of
connoisseurship, a treasure box of magnificent works of art, the guardian of
a truly astounding library of books and photographs. But, set as it was in its
sedate ways and traditions, it lacked the excitement of the University of
Michigan, and much in its organization was falling apart, physically and in a
way even spiritually. Much of the following twenty years was spent dealing
with practical problems of space and financing which eventually altered
completely the looks of the institution and its spirit. What these years meant
to me in my maturity can be easily summed up. Access to a wide variety of
often first-rate students broadened my conception of my field, as I began to
introduce into it other areas than those of the central Near Eastern lands
and other periods than the Middle Ages. Then the daily contact with major
works of art softened my preference for verbal expression over the sensuality
of "things" themselves. And, finally, the association with the Aga Khan
Trust, about which I will have more to say in the introduction to Volume III
of this series, made me encounter my own times, meet the world of practicing

XXXVI

INTRODUCTION

architects, and begin to reflect on the continuous values of an art I had seen
until then as the medieval expression of a neighboring civilization.
For me the curiosity of this large volume has been the contrast between
the work done in the 1950s and early 1970s on medieval subjects according
to traditional methods of investigation and the articles of the last twenty
years, which deal with many more areas and periods and which engage
aesthetic as well as historical issues. To what degree these changes are the
result of personal evolution or of changes in the expectations of the field, I
do not know.

PART ONE

OBJECTS

Chapter I
Two Pieces of Metalwork at the University of
Michigan* 1

In 1955 the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology at the University of Michigan
acquired two pieces of metalwork formerly belonging to M. Sobernheim.
One is a brass basin of the Ayyubid period, the other a small Mamluk box.
From both objects the silver and gold inlay is almost entirely gone and, as
a result, these pieces are not as striking or attractive as a number of well­
known thirteenth- and fourteenth-century basins, ewers, boxes, trays, plates
and candlesticks. However, the inscriptions and the decorative themes
which can be reconstructed are of some interest for the historian of the
period.
I.

The Ayyubid Basin (Figs A, 1-4)

Both in size (46 cm in diameter and 20 cm in height) and in shape (bowl­
like with curved-in rims and a rounded bottom) (Fig. r), this object
belongs to a common enough type in the Ayyubid and Mamluk periods. 2
Its surface is only partially decorated. On the outside a wide band, which
has lost all its inlay and parts of which have been rubbed beyond
recognition, decorates the upper part of the basin. It is divided into four
superposed registers of unequal width. Starting at the top there is first a
narrow band consisting of three braided lines. In the intervals there occur
vegetal motifs and, at times, whole animals or parts of animals, mostly
heads. At times one of the lines widens to the shape of an animal. It is
practically impossible to distinguish the exact varieties of animals
represented, but there are birds, a number of horned beasts, and, probably,
*
1

2

First published in Ars Orienta/is, 4 (1961), pp. 360-68.
I should like to thank Professor E. E. Petersen, Director of the Kelsey Museum of
Archaeology, for putting at my disposal the facilities of his museum and for providing
me with photographs.
Examples can easily be multiplied; cf. D. S. Rice, "Brasses of Ahmad al-Daki al­
Mawsili," Ars Orienta/is, 2 (1957), pp. 301 ff.; and the same author, "Studies in Islamic
Metalwork I," BSOAS, 15 (1952), pp. 565 ff., for Mamluk examples.

3

4

r The Ayyubid
basin

CONSTRUCTING THE STUDY OF ISLAMIC ART

a few female-headed monsters. Below this motif appears a wide band with
an [361] inscription. This band is divided into six parts by six medallions.
The subject matter of the medallions, largely distinguishable (Fig. 2) in
spite of the loss of inlay, belongs to the common iconography of the
hunting prince: a rider, accompanied by a dog, about to take his sword out
of the sheath; a rider attacking an unidentifiable beast with his sword,
while another beast is artfully fitted into the limited area of the medallion
behind the rider; a rider attacking an animal behind him; a rider about to
strike an animal going in an opposite direction to his; a rider with a dog
(or prey?) between the front legs of his horse shooting from a bow; a rider
being attacked from the back. The first three scenes appear to be like a
"comic strip" of the same event, while the last three illustrate other possible
hunting adventures. The figures are set over a geometric spiral pattern
probably derived from similar vegetal motifs, but here almost entirely
J

For another example of this special motif see the Fano cup in the Bibliotheque Nationale,
D. S. Rice, The Wade Cup (Paris, 1955), pl. 15; compare with fig. 37, p. 313, in Rice,
"Brasses".

TWO PIECES OF METALWORK, MICHIGAN

-,:;

:.E
::I

�
Q)

..c::

f-,

.s'"

V)

N ..0

5

6

CONSTRUCTING THE STUDY OF ISLAMIC ART

devoid of any vegetal character, except in a few cases where a flower or a
leafy motif is apparent in the center of the spiral. 3 The scenes themselves
are represented quite conventionally. The inscription, which is partly
vocalized, is in excellent Ayy ubid cursive, and is set over an arabesque
motif which, in most places, develops independently from the inscription
and not only in the spaces between the letters. Here the arabesque has a
much more definitely vegetal character.
Below the inscription is another narrow band, a scroll pattern within
which appear animals. These are practically indistinguishable, but most
seem to be winged and horned quadrupeds. The last part of the decoration
is unframed and consists of an arabesque design comprising interlacing
scroll patterns repeating themselves around two axes. 4 One terminates
with three leaves, the other with what may be a horned animal head. The
rest of the design is much too damaged to permit more than a very
schematic interpretation; it may be that there were animals set amidst the
scrolls.
The inscription on the basin reads as follows:
Glory to our lord this sultan al-Malik al-Salih, the wise, the just, the assisted, the
victorious, the defeater, Najm al-Din abu al-Fath Ayyub ibn Muhammad ibn abi
Bakr ibn Ayyub, may his victory be glorious.

This personage was the last Ayyubid prince to maintain a semblance of
control over the vast territory ruled by the Kurdish princes and their vassals.
A poor general, but an adept manoeuverer in the complex feudal diplomacy
of the time, he is perhaps best known as the husband of Shajar al-Durr, that
most extraordinary woman who was, so to speak, the transition between
Ayyubid and Mamluk rule. His career carried him all over the Ayyubid
realm. From 629/1232 to 635/i238, he was in Diyarbalm and the northern
fringes of the Diyar Mudar. In 636/1239 he went to Damascus and the
following year to Egypt, where he ruled until his death in 647/1249, trying,
generally successfully, to control Palestine and most of southern Syria, and
having, through his son and successor, Turanshah, some control [362] over
Ayyubid possessions in the Jazirah.5 Throughout his reign he was an active
builder, and inscriptions commemorating his construction have come to
light in Amida-Diyarbakrr as well as in Cairo. 6 Three other pieces of
metalwork are known to have been made for him. One is the very well-

The structure of the design is comparable to that of the ewer in the Tiirk ve Islam
Miizesi in Istanbul, Rice, "Studies, III," fig. 2.
5 See article "(al-Malik) al-Salih Najm al-Din Aiyub," in Encyclopedia of Islam, by M.
Sobernheim; G. Wier, L'Egypte Arabe, in G. Hanotaux, Histoire de la nation egyptienne,
vol. 4 (Paris, 1937); and G. Wiet, "Les Biographies des Manha! Safi," in Memoires
presentes a l1nstitut d'Egypte, vol. XIX (Cairo, 1932), No. 627, with full bibliography.
6 E. Combe, J. Sauvaget, G. Wiet, Repertoire chronologique d'epi aphie arabe, vol. rr
gr
(Cairo, 1942), Nos 4136-4137, 4217-4220, 4223, 4278, 4298-4301.

4

TWO PIECES OF METALWORK, MICHIGAN

7

3 The Ayyubid
basin

known d'Arenberg basin, now in the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington,
which has never been properly published. The other one is an unpublished
basin formerly in the Harari collection. The third one, recently published by
Gaston Wiet, is now in the Louvre.7
On the outside of our basin are also four graffiti of later owners or users,
which may tell us something of the further history of the basin. Two of these
inscriptions are perfectly clear:
a (Fig. 4a) For the house of Mukhtar al-Rashidi
6 (Fig. 46) For the tishtkhanah of Malik Mansur

The tishtkhanah is defined by Quatremere as "un lieu ou l'on gardait les
etoffes destinees pour l'habillement du sultan, les differentes especes de
pierreries, les cachets, les epees, et autres objets du meme genre, et ou on
7

Both in Repertoire, Nos 4302-4303; Rice, "Brasses," p. 3n. The Louvre piece, published
by G. Wier, "Inscriptions Mobilieres de l'Egypre Musulmane," journal Antique, 246
(1958), pp. 239 ff.

8

4a The
Ayyubid basin

46 The
Ayyubid basin

4c The
Ayyubid basin

4d The
Ayyubid basin

CONSTRUCTING THE STUDY OF ISLAMIC ART

TWO PIECES OF METALWORK, MICHIGAN

9

lavait les habits. "8 It was, in other words, a vestiary or wardrobe. As to Malik
Mansur, he could have been any one of a large number of Ayyubid, Rasulid,
or Mamluk princes of that name, 9 including such important figures as
Qalawun and Lajin.
The last two inscriptions (Fig. 4 c-d) have been obliterated through the
engraving of two horizontal lines and several oblique ones over the original
graffito. The first one begins with "for the house. " The last word seems to
contain the letters "ainwan," which could be read as 'unwan. The dar
'unwan may have been the office in which titles were made for official
documents, an office of considerable importance in the Mamluk chancery. 10
But, in that case, one would expect the article in front of 'unwan, and it is
perhaps more likely that we deal simply with a proper name ('Imran?). The
second obliterated inscription has defied my attempts at interpretation. The
last word seems to be al-turbah. The first one may be qa'ah. This might
possibly mean a specific "hall or pavilion of the grave" if the inscription
refers to a locale in a Mamluk or Ayyu bid palace, or else the name of some
shop. But the reading here is very doubtful and the interpretations of the
last two inscriptions cannot be more than suggestions so long as such graffiti
are not gathered and studied as a body instead of individually. The only safe
conclusion we can draw from the graffiti of the University of Michigan
basin is that, at least for a while, this basin was kept in one and perhaps even
two "offices" of the Ayyu bid and, more likely, Mamluk administration. At
some [363] date it passed into the possession of some individual by the name
of Mukhtar al-Rashidi.n
The inside of this basin is much barer than the outside. It is only at the
bottom that a very complex design appears (Fig. 3). Its complexity is further
heightened by the complete loss of inlay. The main part of the decoration
consists of a wide medallion. It is surrounded by an unframed arabesque
motif, quite similar to, and simpler and clearer than, the one on the outer
part of the basin. The intersections of the scrolls are held together by
alternating rings and heads. It is the central motif which is the most original
feature of the basin and it is most unfortunate that it has been so badly
damaged, since it was probably a most striking design. The drawing, Figure
A, is an attempt to suggest the main lines of the organization of the decoration.
The only addition made is that of facial features in order to emphasize the
position of the motifs. There is some justification for this addition, beyond
8

9

10
11

M. Quatremere, Histoire des Sultans Mamlouks, I (Paris, 1857), p. 162, n. 40; one may
note that the word derives from tasht which means "basin," probably of the type here
described.
See G. Wier, Biographies sub Malik Mansur.
W Bjorkman, Beitrlige zur Geschichte der Staatskanzlei im islamischen Agypten (Hamburg,
1928); see 'u nwan in index.
There were many individuals of the name of Mukhtar in Mamluk times (cf. G. Wier,
Biographies), but none is mentioned with the surname al-Rashidi.

IO

CONSTRUCTING THE STUDY OF ISLAMIC ART

A The Ayyubid
basin

the desire for clarity, since complete surviving examples of comparable types
clearly show that eyes, nose and mouth were generally indicated.
It has proved impossible to define a logical system in the web of stems,
here and there punctuated by leaves, which occur between the main elements
of decoration. It would rather seem that there was no clear independent
pattern of scrolls or arabesques, but that scrolls and stems were used as
simple fill-ins. In this the system of decoration inside the bowl is less
advanced than the pattern found on the outside. The disparity indicates that
the object should be considered as a transitional one between the group of
metalwork with arabesques as fill-ins and the group with independent
arabesques. 12
The subject matter of the medallion is a group of animals and human
beings, with animals largely predominating. The center of the composition
is occupied by a type of bird-headed(?) monster with two paws and a long
tail curving upward, a motif going back to the Sasanian senmurv. Roughly
12

See the rough scheme of development of backgrounds suggested by Rice, "Seasons and
Labors of the Months," Ars Orienta/is, I (1954), pp. 25-6.

TWO PIECES OF METALWORK, MICHIGAN

II

two rows of figures surround it. These rows are not clearly separated from
each other and many a figure serves rather as a transition from one area to
the other. The first row, nearer to the central beast, and the narrower one of
the two, consists essentially of animal heads, among which one can distinguish
a bird, a unicorn, a horse, a rabbit, and one or two bovines or mountain
goats. One full animal, probably a variety of the female-headed monster,
occurs there too. Most of these figures show stems originating from their
necks or mouths, but not leading anywhere. The second and wider row also
contains animal heads, but they are used more sparsely, generally simply as
fill-ins between [364] more complete figures. These seem to have been used
in two ways: the majority of the figures along the edge of the design are
parallel to the edge, while the ones farther from the edge are larger and more
or less perpendicular to it. Insofar as they can be made out, these figures,
five of which are fairly well outlined, were variations on the karkadann­
unicorn motif13 and two of them are images of human beings. One shows a
running man with a knife in one hand and a shield in the other, a fairly
common hunting posture. 14 The other personage is seated with out-stretched
knees and appears to be gesticulating. While the first figure seems to be
bare-headed, the second may have worn a cap or a crown, since one end of
the top of his head is slightly pointed. I cannot determine the exact type of
activity in which he was involved. As to the figures on the near edge of the
design, insofar as their outline can be clearly ascertained, they seem to
consist almost exclusively of variations on the theme of the walking or lying
griffin or of winged bovines.
This design in the center of the basin shows several characteristics which
are common enough in Islamic decoration of the period, but which are
rarely combined into one pattern. The circular organization of a pattern in
the center of an object occurs throughout the Islamic world of the thirteenth
century. 1 5 The use of human and animal forms - either complete or partial in a decorative way and without prejudice as to possible symbolism (outside
of the well-known examples of "animated" writing) occurs, long before
Islam, in the Pazyryk finds16 and, in medieval times, from Khorasan to the
Mediterranean, in works made both for Muslims and for Christians.17 The
1

J

14
15
16

17

R. Ettinghausen, The unicorn (Washington, 1950), pis 1-6, especially canteen 41.10 in
the Freer Gallery, where very similar motifs occur.
See, for instance, the personages in the "animated" script of the Fano cup, Rice, Wade
Cup, fig. 28; or of the Wade Cup, ibid. , fig. 19 (esp. upper image, extreme left) . Also
Rice, "Studies, III," pl. 6.
Rice, "Studies, III," pp. 235 ff.; Wade Cup, pp. 12 ff.; see also R. Ettinghausen's comments,
"The Wade Cup," Ars Orienta/is, 2 (1957), pp. 341 ff., where many additional examples
are brought up.
S. I. Rudenko, Kultura Naseleniia Gornovo Altaia (Moscow, 1953), fig. 60 ff.
A few Islamic examples bearing directly on our basin: D'Arenberg basin, Ausstellung von
Meisterwerken Muhammedanischer Kunst in Miinchen, vol. 2 (Munich, 1912), pl. 147;
there mythical animals like those of our plate occur on the narrow friezes, while

12

CONSTRUCTING THE STUDY OF ISLAMIC ART

specific animals found on our pattern are also quite common. 18 W here [365]
the motif of the Kelsey Museum basin differs from most known examples is
in the apparent lack of symmetry, axiality and repetition of the units of
decoration (which is quite different from what appears either on the arabesque
design around the medallion or on the outside of the basin) and in the
apparent lack of relation between the animals and the vegetal arabesque.
The absence of symmetry is pointed up by comparison with the somewhat
later Rasulid tray in the Metropolitan Museum which uses quite similar
animals. In the relationship of the animals to the arabesque, our motif
differs from the d' Arenberg basin made for the same prince and from the
usual "animated" arabesque. The only work to show a very similar design,
although smaller in size and in a less central position, is the "canteen" with
Christian subjects in the Freer Gallery of Art; there we meet with the same
animals, real and fantastic, the same general organization without symmetry
or repetition and without a coherent web of stems. 19
We can see then that with its "animated" arabesque on the outside and
with its medallion inside, the basin in the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology,
although severely mutilated, is of considerable interest. The question arises

18

19

patterns with stems and animal or human heads appear on medallions; a Rasulid tray in
the Metropolitan Museum, M. S. Dimand, "Unpublished metalwork of the Rasulid
Sultans," Metropolitan Museum Studies, 3 (1931), pp. 231 ff., fig. 3; drawing by Rice in
"Brasses," p. 292, which shows the same animals, but arranged very symmetrically and
in more logical relation to the arabesque design; E. Kuhnel, "Zwei Mosulbronzen,"
Jahrbuch des preussischen Kunstsammlungen, 60 (1939), fig. IO; A. U. Pope, ed., A Survey
ofPersian Art (New York, 1939), pl. 1331, which shows also a very large medallion with a
motif made up of animals and human beings; little symmetry is shown and there is no
coherent arabesque system, but the individual elements are of a very small size and the
"whorl" effect is striking. For Christian examples, see especially Armenian works: G.
Goian, 2,000 let armianskovo teatra, vol. 2 (Moscow, 1952), figs 23, 66-7, color pl. 2; S.
Der Nersessian, Armenia and the Byzantine Empire (Cambridge, 1945), pis 24-5; J.
Strzygowski and M. von Berchem, Amida, Heidelberg, 1910, fig. 313. It is interesting to
note that the closest parallel to our motif is found on three medallions of the
Eumorfopoulos "canteen," now in the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington, M. S.
Dimand, "A silver inlaid bronze canteen," Ars Islamica, 1 (1934), p. 171, since, just as the
d'Arenberg basin, the canteen shows Christian subjects.
Most of them will be found in the objects mentioned above. Since al-Malik al-Salih had
governed at Amida, it may be worthwhile mentioning that winged monsters and
bovines of all types are quite common among the sculptures of Amida and northern
Mesopotamia in general. See Strzygowski and van Berchem, Amida, figs 31, 38, 42, and
300 ff., for stucco fragments in Istanbul said to have come from Amida; A. Gabriel,
Voyages archeologiques dans la Turquie Orientale (Paris, 1940), pis 68 and 68 bis; Rice,
"Studies, V," pp. 210-n. Other unpublished fragments remain in the Diyarbaku Museum
and in a room of the madrasa of Sultan 'Isa in Mardin. Some very close monumental
motifs appear also farther north, at Sivas, and should perhaps be connected with
contemporary or earlier Armenian and Georgian examples; see, for instance, A. Gabriel,
Monuments turcs d'Anatolie, II (Paris, 1934), pl. 58.
The Louvre piece does not seem to use animal motifs for decorative purposes, and its
splendid central design is much more symmetrical than ours, although not perfectly so.
I should like to thank Prof. G. Wier and M. Jean David-Weil for providing me with
photographs of the object.

TWO PIECES OF METALWORK, MICHIGAN

13

whether it is possible to assign it to a specific area and to date it. In the case
of Najm al-Din Ayyub, localization and dating are connected questions,
since he ruled first in northern Mesopotamia and then in Syria and Egypt. If
by comparison with other objects of his time one can establish a coherent
stylistic sequence, the earlier objects may be attributed to Diyarbaku and
the northern part of the Diyar Mudar. If, on the other hand, certain objects
of his time show affinities with the art of northern Jazirah, then they might
be considered as early in his reign.
The formulary of the inscription on the basin does not help, since all the
known inscriptions of Ayyub bear the titles and epithets found on our
object. One point, however, is borne out by a comparison of inscriptions:
that the d'Arenberg basin belongs to the last years of Ayyub's reign, since the
basin and late Cairene inscriptions give the Ayyubid the title of khalil amir
al-mu'minin, while the other and earlier inscriptions have other titles in amir
al-mu'minin. But since our basin does not have any caliphal title, this particular
point cannot lead to dating it securely and one would need a complete
publication of the Harari, Louvre and d' Arenberg brasses and a comparison
with the undated Freer "canteen" in order to suggest a stylistic development
within which the Kelsey Museum basin can be fitted. This is a task which is
beyond the scope of the present publication. The following remarks, however,
might be made. The shape of our basin is, as we mentioned, typical of
Ayyubid and early Mamluk works. The organization of the decoration, with
only an inscription on the outside and a complex design in a limited area
inside, is also more typical of early Mamluk works20 than of the usual piece
of metalwork, especially of the so-called Mosul group, in the first half of the
thirteenth century. 21 The Freer "canteen" has been generally attributed to a
Syrian workshop. If one adds to [366] these points that the subsequent
history of the basin seems to have been Egyptian, it could be suggested that
the Syro-Egyptian area was the place of manufacture of the object and that
it should be dated late rather than early during the rule of Najm al-Din
Ayyu b.
On the other hand, the specific elements of the decoration show very
clearly the impact of northern Mesopotamia and of the so-called Mosul
school. This in itself would not be an argument for assigning the object to
that area, as D. S. Rice has pointed out in a recent contribution, 22 inasmuch
as our closest parallels have been works which are generally claimed to have
been made under the influence of the "Mosul" school, but not in Mosul
itself. Some of the animal motifs on the basin could perhaps be related to
20
21

22

Rice, "Studies, I," pls 6-8; Wiet, Cuivres, pls 37, 42, 45, etc.
There are, of course, exceptions, as Rice, "Studies, III," but the Turk ve Islam Miisezi
ewer dated in 6z?frzz9 is of an "ordinary," not royal, type (p. z3z), while the Bologna
brass bowl was made for a simple officer, not for a ruling prince, and is out of the
ordinary in many respects.
"Brasses," in Ars Orienta/is, z, pp. 319 ff.

14

CONSTRUCTING THE STUDY OF ISLAMIC ART

the region of Diyarbakir. Relationship with Christian subjects need not
always point to Syria and Mosul, but may also be the result of contacts made
farther north along the Tigris and the Euphrates. Furthermore, the roughness
and vigor of the central pattern differentiates it sharply from the organized
sophistication of works such as the d'Arenberg basin, other Syro-Egyptian
objects, and the later Rasulid plate in the Metropolitan Museum. The basin
could be attributed to a provincial center influenced by Mesopotamia and in
contact with Christian currents. The region of Amida could well be such a
center.
Allowance must be made, however, for the fact that in as complex a
period as the first half of the thirteenth century it may be adventurous even
to try to establish a proper sequence of styles. The movements of princes
and of artisans from one place to the other could easily have led to the
simultaneous existence of several different styles in the same area, while the
nouveau riche culture of many a Kurdish or Turkish prince could well have
resulted in the revival of older styles and ideas - a revival which is evidenced
in other media - or in the experimentation with new motifs or with themes
developed outside of the normal metalwork tradition. If at all possible, a
more definitive localization and date should await the publication of the
d'Arenberg basin and a fuller understanding of the origins of Ayyubid
decorative motifs.

II .

The Mamluk Box (Figs 5-6)

The second object acquired by the Kelsey Museum is a rectangular brass box
with curved edges, 27 cm in length, 7.5 cm in width and 6 cm in height. The
silver inlay has completely disappeared from the top of the box (Fig. 5),
where the decoration consisted of a simple narrow scroll pattern along the
edge and of an inscription in two parts set between three medallions in the
middle. The two side medallions have empty centers - probably a space set
aside for a blazon - and a motif of flying birds over an arabesque design
around them. The central medallion is similarly organized but bears a
decoration of flowers instead of birds. Both birds and flowers were common
in the Mamluk period.23 More inlay has remained on the decoration around
the body of the box. There we have another inscription divided by eight
medallions. The medallions have a common six-armed swastika in the
middle24 and alternating bird and flower patterns around the swastika. Some
of the swastikas seem to have been inlaid with gold instead of silver. A third
inscription is found in a cartouche inside the box. Its inlay has remained
almost entirely. [367]
J

2

24

Wiet, Cuivres, pls 4, 6, 15, 37, etc.
Rice, "Studies, I," p. 565, pl. 8.

TWO PIECES OF METALWORK, MICHIGAN

(a)

15

Inscription around the box:

The noble and high Excellency (maqarr) our Lord, the Great Amir, the Ghazi, the
Warrior for the Faith, the Defender of the Frontiers, the Warden of the Marches,
the Helper, the Treasure, the Shelter, the Administrator, the Royal, the Amir Sharaf
al-Din, the Chamberlain, (the former slave) of al-Malik al-Nasir.

(b)

Inscription on top of the box:

The high Excellency (maqarr) our Lord the Amir Sharaf al-Din Musa, the
Chamberlain, of al-Nasir.

(c)

Inscription inside the cover:

The high Excellency (janab), our Lord, the Great Amir, the Ghazi, the Warrior for
the Faith, the Defender of the Frontiers, Sharaf al-Din, the Amir Chamberlain, of
al-Malik al-Nasir.

The person for whom this box was made can be identified as Sharaf al-Din
Musa ibn al-Azkashi. 25 The text of the Manha! has this to say about him:
Musa ibn al-Azkashi, the amir Sharaf al-Din, was one of the captives of Sultan
Hasan. 26 His whole life was spent as an amir. He fulfilled a number of official
functions, among which were that of chamberlain (hajib) in Egypt and that of
ustadar. He also ruled over a large number of districts. Then he was appointed
counsellor of state (mushir al-dawlah). He was exalted in offices of state. He used to
ride in great majesty and with his household. When he rode, one of his mamluks
used to carry behind him an ink-bottle and a sand box. After the death of al-Malik
al-Ashraf Sha'ban, his power declined a little and he became one of the group of
amirs of the tablkhanat (of the drums) until his death in his house at al-Husayniyah
on the 16th of dhu al-qai'dah in 780. He had been respectable, pious, temperate,
noble, kindly to the learned and to the righteous. May God have mercy upon him. 27
2

>

26
2

7

Wiet, Biographies, p. 384, No. 255r. Taghribirdi, al-Nujum al-Zahirah, ed. W. Popper, V
(Berkeley, 1933-36), p. 337.
His full name was Malik Nasir abu al-Ma'ali Hasan ibn Muhammad; hence the maliki
Nasiri of our inscription.
Since I did not have at my disposal a manuscript of the Manha!, I used a copy made by
Sobernheim of the text of fols 372 a-6 of vol. 3 of the Cairo manuscript, inasmuch as
the Paris manuscript is incomplete and, in particular, has no reference to our man.

5 The Mamluk
box

16

6

box

The Mamluk

CONSTRUCTING THE STUDY OF ISLAMIC ART

Little else is known about his life, except that he was involved a number
of times in palace intrigues.28 It is not possible to give a precise date to the
object under discussion. It must have been made before the death of [368]
Sha'ban in 778/r377, since after that Musa was in partial disgrace. He
appears already as ustadar and hajib in 762, 29 although he seems to have lost
the former office, at least for a short while, in 763. It would be to a period
when Musa was only hajib that we would have to attribute the box, but the
texts are insufficient to determine the date. All one can say is that it was
made during a period extending from some time before 762 to 778. It is a
period from which a great number of objects have remained30 and the box
described here is quite typical of the time. Its main interest is in reviving the
memory of one of the thousands of amirs who were at the same time the
main support and the source of decay of the Mamluk state, whose individual
historical importance was secondary, but whose processions through the
streets of Cairo preceded by drummers and followed by slaves (future amirs)
carrying symbols of office, such as perhaps this box, were an everyday
occurrence and, next to mosques and mausoleums, one of the most
characteristic forms of "conspicuous consumption" in their fast and often
precarious lives.
28

29

30

Nujum, pp. 156-7, 160, 177; Maqrizi, Khitat, Bulaq, 1270, II, pp. 317-18.
Maqrizi, Khitat, calls him amir hajib, while Taghribirdi uses the title of ustadar.
Wier, Cuivres, pp. 195 ff., lists over 150 pieces of metalwork datable between 730 and
780; see also Rice, "Studies, I" and "Studies, IV."

Chapter II
Les arts mineurs de I' Orient musulman a partir du
milieu du Xlle siecle* 1

Parmi les difficultes majeures que pose l'etude des arts du Proche-Orient
musulman se trouve l' absence d'une periodisation valable qui aurait ete
acceptee par la majorite des savants et qui, meme si elle etait imparfaite,
pourrait servir de cadre utile pour l' etude de monuments ou de problemes
precis. 2 1:accord n'a pas encore ete fait entre diverses categories dynastiques,
geographiques ou chronologiques possibles et bien des erreurs ont ete
commises dans l'interpretation des monuments par suite de la confusion qui
regne encore dans ce domaine. La difficulte est particulierement serieuse
pour le specialiste d'un domaine voisin de l'art musulman - par exemple
celui de l' art chretien du moyen age, - car il lui est generalement difficile de
savoir quels objets, techniques ou bien motifs decoratifs, sont particuliers
une epoque OU une region nettement delimitees et quels monuments sont,
par contre, typiques pour l' ensemble de la civilisation. Ce que Max van
Berchem appelait jadis "l'index archeologique" des monuments musulmans
nous echappe encore dans la majorite des cas. Par ailleurs, sauf quelques
exceptions sur certaines desquelles nous reviendrons, nous manquons de
systeme d'interpretation des monuments preserves. Les elements precis que
nous savons decrire - tel motif iconographique ou bien decorati£ telle unite
architecturale - n' Ont generalement pas ete integres dans un langage coherent
dont les regles et l'histoire nous seraient connues. 11 est certes vrai que, sauf

a

a

*
1

2

First published in Cahiers de Civilisation Medievale (Universite de Poitiers, Avril-Juin
1968), pp. 181-90.
Ce travail est fonde sur une serie de trois conferences faites pendant I' ete 1966 au
Centre d'Etudes Superieures de Civilisation Medievale. La presentation qui suit ete
simplifiee et ne fait que res um er !es conferences. C' est ce qui en explique le caractere
schematique. De meme, ii a ete necessaire de reduire !'illustration a quelques documents
essentiels.
II faut cependant mentionner des ouvrages utiles, quoique incomplets et bien des
egards imparfaits, comme: E. Kuhnel, Die Kunst der Islam (Stuttgart, 1962), trad.
anglaise, Islamic Art and Architecture, Ithaca, 1966; K. Otto-Dorn, Kunst der Islam
(Baden-Baden, 1964) . L'excellente introduction generale de G. Mari;:ais, L'art de
l1slam (nombreuses ed. depuis 1946) est trop succincte pour servir aux fins qui nous
interessent.

a

a

17

18

r Cleveland.
Museum of Art.
Plat.

CONSTRUCTING THE STUDY OF ISLAMIC ART

dans le cas special de la calligraphie,3 le monde musulman a rarement
transforme sa foi en themes artistiques precis; on n'y trouve pas la base plus
ou moins canonique de themes iconographiques et d' interpretations
spirituelles partir de laquelle l' art chretien du moyen age se laisse definir.
Les arts seculiers, qui
premiere vue semblent avoir ete tellement plus
developpes dans le monde de l'Islam que les arts religieux, sont en general
beaucoup plus difficiles comprendre dans le detail, car leur utilisation