News & Events

Event
1 Feb 2019, 5:30pm Room N 7, Pembroke College, Cambridge

Some Solomonic themes in royal iconography of Islamic art have been noted, but rarely do they seem to be so obvious as in palaces excavated in Raqqa and dated to the early Abbasid period. The fragments of a very peculiar pavement with glass tiles resonate with the floor of  ‘glass like water’, which in the Qur’an characterises the palace of Solomon. The talk seeks to understand the aesthetics and semantics of such a floor, which highlighted a specific space in the sequence of formal and representational rooms. While the spectacular appearance fits a period known for innovative “arts of the fire” in architectural decoration, a wider significance of the theme, both earlier and later, may be proposed. Just as the Qur’anic passage acquires a range of interpretation in texts that comment, explain and embellish it, so the Solomonic floor may have been translated into various materials and architectural spaces in early Islamic palaces.

Colleagues and students are welcome, especially those who are interested in history of art and archaeology, Middle East, Islamic and Hebrew Studies.

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Event
22 Nov 2018, 5:30pm Thomas Gray Room, Pembroke College, Cambridge

This talk will focus on the relatively large group of illustrated copies of the works of ‘Ali Shir Nava’i preserved in Istanbul libraries. They can all be dated to the first half of the sixteenth century, while most of them can be attributed even more precisely, to the two decades between 1520 and 1540. 

All manuscripts are luxuriously decorated with precious materials, which reveals their origin from a royal atelier. Such illumination and illustration programme demonstrates the book art practiced in the Turko-Persian world. Its main characteristics would be the mutual influence of the Sheybanid, Safavid and Ottoman court style of the period after the fall of the Timurids, which at times makes the attribution of their illustrations to a single centre not very straightforward.

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