Artistic relations between East and West: Italian renaissance painters

It has been some time now that I am more and more interested in artistic influences between the Eastern and Western Mediterranean. As always, nothing new under the sun: I am not the first one. Anna Contadini, in her beautiful article ‘Sharing a Taste? Material Culture and Intellectual Curiosity around the Mediterranean, from the Eleventh to the Sixteenth…

Arabic script before Islam: questions

The following considerations are based on Prof. Laila Nehmé’s presentation (Leiden, Dec 9th, 2014)  Recently the University of Leiden has organised a study day on the Qur’anic text. The day was organised following the recent dating of the parchment of a Qur’anic manuscript via C14, that gave an astonishing result: the parchment dates between 650 and…

Double two-dimensional mihrab from Art Institute Chicago

I was thinking about writing something for the opening of the galleries of Islamic art at the Art Institute Chicago. While browsing the collection owned by the museum, I found a peculiar tile, decorated with a double-arched two-dimensional mihrab, and of course decorated with wonderful cursive inscriptions (accession number 1917.221).

XII century Iranian tombstones – reading what museums don’t read

Do I have to say again that I like tombstones? I think it’s quite clear… In these days, following the post about signatures on Iranian tombstones from XII century, I started to search similar material in museums and auction houses just to have an overall view on the subject. Well…I must admit that some of…

A free encyclopaedia of Islam (and Islamic art)

Few days ago, maybe one week, I started wondering: is there an open-source and serious encyclopaedia on Islamic history and Islamic art? Apart from partial and biased interpretation on the history of Arab-Islamic countries, and not 100% reliable sources (wikis), the only way to get free good information on Islamic history is hoping that your…

The Dome of the Rock – reading its iconographic project

The Dome of the Rock was built in 72 a.h. (691-2 A.D.) and, besides being the most ancient Islamic building survived till our days, it is, most probably, the first monument to have been built by the new rulers of the Near East. Its building followed a highly uneasy period: during the ten years that…

Minaret of Jam: what it is and why it is important

On Aug 28th, 2014 BBC published an article about the minaret of Jam, Afghanistan, which is “in danger to collapse”. The news spread throughout Twitter, drawing more attention on the fact. The minaret’s importance was first recognized by UNESCO in 1982, that nominated it World Heritage Site. Then, in 2002, it was listed under the…