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).

Redating and relocalising a tombstone from Wikipedia

Update to this post: Jamila’s gravestone: update On WikiCommons there is the picture of a gravestone. It is written in a beautifully decorated kufic script. It is not that Fatimid type of kufic where the foliation/floriation is so overwhelming that you can barely read what’s written, and it is not that early kufic that has…

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.

Reinterpreting an Iranian slab from XII century

After my previous blog, in which I gave my reading and some thoughts about an Iranian tombstone dated 1101 and kept in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, I want to go on down this path and consider another tombstone, kept in the same museum (accession number M.73.7.1).

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

When calligraphy becomes architecture: Q 2:137 and fashion

Calligraphy has been thoroughly used in Islamic art and architecture with decorative purposes. The Qur’an, the Word of God has been used for decorative purposes, but not only. Erika Dodd, in her “The Image of the Word” underlines how the Qur’anic text in mosque decoration was actually used with iconographic purposes, that are both related…

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…