Muqarnas 37 introduces new research on Islamic material culture ranging from Abbasid period mosaics to the early twentieth-century art market. Featured articles include Charles Melville’s introduction of a chronicle that sheds light on the architectural program of Shah ʿAbbas I, in particular his patronage of the dynastic shrine at Ardabil. From the Ottoman period, two essays discuss painted manuscripts: the first traces shifting representations of urban space in late sixteenth-century Istanbul, and the second focuses on sumptuous objects—namely, candy gardens and decorated palms—accompanying the extraordinary 1720 circumcision festival under Sultan Ahmed III. Another article seeks to unravel the mysterious origins of an unusually sophisticated painting of Mecca from the seventeenth or eighteenth century. Other topics covered are archaeological finds in Tunisia, and the legacy of Russian modernization efforts in the architecture of East Anatolia, especially the city of Kars. The Notes and Sources section examines the
waqfiyya of the earliest surviving Halveti lodge in Amasya, as well as the function of various types of lamps in contemporary Pakistani Sufi shrines.
Muqarnas 36 features a stunning variety of Islamic art genres, ranging from monumental architecture, manuscripts, textiles, and tiles, to inscriptions, material objects, and forgery. It sweeps across India, Iran, and Turkey, and concludes in Britain, with the discovery of an Ashmolean Museum objet d’art that is not exactly what it is advertised to be.
The volume begins with an overview by Finbarr Barry Flood of the architecture, calligraphy, epigraphy, painting, and portable arts of pre-Mughal Islamicate South Asia. Pre-Mughal court culture has always played second fiddle to the overwhelming hegemony and brilliance of the Mughal dynasty but in its regional heterogeneity it is more than worthy of study. This is followed by two essays examining manuscript illumination: Cailah Jackson, 2017 winner of the Margaret B. Ševčenko Prize in Islamic Art and Culture, discusses two manuscripts illuminated by Mukhlis ibn ʿAbdallah al-Hindi in thirteenth-century Konya; and Denise-Marie Teece treats the early sixteenth-century Safīna manuscript (Biblioteca Reale Ms. Or. 101), its illuminator Ruzbehan al-Modhahheb, and its unique six-page preface. A Byzantine stole with embroidered Arabic inscriptions in the collection of Vatopediou Monastery on Mount Athos is the subject of the fourth essay by Nikolaos Vryzidis. The volume’s seven essays conclude with three investigations into Ottoman art history: the blue-and-white tiles of the Baba Naqqaş style of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, as prominently displayed in the Muradiye Mosque in Edirne (Patricia Blessing), the architectural book
Risāle-i Miʿmāriyye of the seventeenth-century Caʿfer Efendi and in particular his notes on surveying and the architect’s cubit (Gül Kale), and the evolution of the late sixteenth-century Ottoman custom of requiring the sultan to be victorious over the non-Muslim enemy and to only use spoils from the holy war in the construction of a sultanic mosque (Samet Budak).
Notes and Sources section continues with Bill Hickman’s analysis of the tantalizing calligraphed tiles of the now destroyed mosque built for the Sufi shaykh and poet Eşrefoğlu Rumi (d. 1469?), and two communications about artifacts on British soil: a wooden box, believed to have contained the heart of Abbot Roger de Norton (d. 1291), with an Arabic inscription that is now deciphered by Barry Knight, 147 years after its discovery; and a gorgeous Persian luster bowl in Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum, which when subjected to UV examination, revealed that it was a product of extensive repair, or “restoration,” over the centuries. A systematic examination of the bowl and its remarkable history by Francesca Leoni and her colleagues uncovers a level of fakery of antiques that, it is suggested, might be prevalent in museum ceramic collections.
Nira Stone (1938-2013) was a scholar of Armenian and Byzantine Art. Her broad and close acquaintance with the field of Armenian art history covered many fields of Armenian artistic creativity. Nira Stone made notable contributions to the study of Armenian manuscript painting, mosaics, and other forms of artistic expression. Of particular interests are her researches on this art in its historical and religious contexts, such as the study of apocryphal elements in Armenian Gospel iconography, the place of the mosaics of Jerusalem in the context of mosaics in Byzantine Palestine, and of the interplay between religious movements, such as hesychasm, and Armenian manuscript painting.
The Oasis of Bukhara: Population, Depopulation and Settlement Evolution, Rocco Rante, archaeologist at the Louvre Museum, presents the results of a large-scale and ambitious regional archaeological investigation of the oasis of Bukhara, corresponding to the delta of the Zerafshan River, from the end of the 1st millennium BCE to the Timurid period. Rante reports the conclusions of several studies of the oasis, realised with the collaboration of distinguished specialists, and covers topics such as human migration, water and the city, urban development and changes in human behaviour. He also revisits the history of this part of Central Asia, providing new historical and cultural insights arising out of the intense archaeological activities undertaken in the field. The volume is co-published by Brill, Leiden, and the Louvre Museum, Paris.