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  • Author or Editor: Nikolaos Vryzidis x
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Abstract

In the collection of Vatopediou Monastery (Mount Athos) there is a Late Byzantine vestment called by the monks the “Arabic stole” (arabikon ōmophorion). This quite unique vestment probably owes its name to two bands of embroidered Arabic inscriptions on the lower part of each end. It is one of the very few known Byzantine religious objects to feature legible Arabic inscriptions, a visible symbol of Islamic otherness juxtaposed with the standard Christian iconography. Apart from bringing into the spotlight a medieval vestment that has been overlooked by scholars, this article traces possible sources of artistic transfer through a discussion of texts and extant objects. Finally, it aims at expanding our understanding of the reception of Islamic art in Late Byzantium, a time of both political decline and cultural renewal.

In: Muqarnas Online

Abstract

Later Byzantine (1261–1453) diplomacy was generally characterised by pragmatism, especially in the empire’s choice of allies that could foster its political stability and mitigate its financial burdens. Among its more distant allies were the different Mongol polities that stretched from Central Asia up to the Caucasus and Eastern Europe. Despite not being immediate neighbours, the relationship between Byzantium and the Mongols was marked by intermediation, both in terms of the actors that functioned across the two realms and of the service the one could provide to the interests of the other. Within this frame, the following article will attempt a preliminary assessment of the Mongol element in later Byzantine art and material culture, and its possible use as a secondary source on this complex relationship. It will argue that while the Mongol contribution to Byzantine art and material culture was visible especially during the fourteenth century, there are instances which reveal a certain ambivalence towards it.

In: Crossroads