The Oliphant

Islamic Objects in Historical Context


Setting a group of medieval carved ivory horns in the specific artistic and historical context in which they were manufactured, used and re-used, this book presents a mine of information for the study of medieval history.
The first chapters explore such technical aspects as the cutting and carving of oliphants, and also the broader issues of the morphology of ivory and its availability in the Mediterranean basin in the Middle Ages. On the basis of specific carving methods and varying vocabulary of motifs, the oliphants are organized into groups and their probable sites of production are suggested.
The core of this volume, however, is the attempt to place them in their specific historical context. The purpose of their mass-production, namely their patronage and original function, is explored, but also their reception and new functions in the church treasuries of Latin Europe is broadly discussed.

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Avinoam Shalem, Ph.D. (1995), History of Art, University of Edinburgh, is Professor of Islamic Art at Munich University. He has published extensively on Islamic ‘minor arts’ including Islam Christianized (Peter Lang, 1998).
Those interested in medieval history – especially of the Mediterranean area – art historians, anthropologists and readers interested in the nature of works of art and fascinated by intercultural exchange between Europe and Islam in the Middle Ages.

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