The biased interpretation of pre-Islamic inscriptions by Haaretz

Today I decided to take the tram to go to work. Sitting there I started to have a look at Twitter, as most of the people around me were doing. It was then when my attention was caught by a title: “Before Islam: When Saudi Arabia was a Jewish Kingdom“. Saudi Arabia was…what? When? Am…

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…

Words of wisdom: an inscribed bowl from 10th-century Iran

Pottery produced in Arab-Islamic lands displays in the great majority of cases beautifully inscribed epigraphic bands. The beauty of the inscriptions on pottery is due to the way the text was arranged on the surface and also the way it was designed to produce, in some cases, a sort of rhythm. Kufic is maybe the most…

Damghan: the minaret of the Friday Mosque (V/XI century)

The minaret of Damghan is something that I have always liked. It is not only because it is Seldjuk, and because it is the only part of the mosque that was not replaced during the Qajar period. It is for two main reasons. The first: the inscription in the lower epigraphic band contains the Light…

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).

Gravestone tradition in 12th century Iran

After roughly one month spent thinking and thinking about the Iranian tombstone tradition developed during the 12th century, I maybe have reached some results. Actually, as the material is scattered around museums and galleries, I decided to bring some of the objects together, so that it would be easier to understand the overall tradition.

Signatures on gravestones: two XII century Iranian tombstones

Tombstones are full of surprises, and information: not only on the poor passed away, but also on the iconography, the use of Qur’anic citation, place and time, people, craftsmanship, patronage, religion, public and private sphere…in short: from a tombstone, if you are careful, you can get a whole context. Let’s take this one for instance