The Madrasa of Baiqara and the Stone of the Seven Pens: unveiling post-editing in the Road to Oxiana

  The lyrical and less stately beauty of these minarets reflects the reign that produced it. The last monument that Byron visited when at the Musalla Complex in Herat, on the 23rd of November 1933, was the Madrasa of Baiqara, or better, its minarets. The description he provides of the four minarets is beautiful and…

What remains of the Madrasa of Gawhar Shad

The origin of this baffles me. On the 23rd of November 1933, while visiting the Musalla Complex and its monuments, we can imagine Robert Byron lingering a while in front of a solitary minaret. In his own travelogue, he records that he was quite perplexed. He then wrote: “Next, on the east of the mausoleum, stands…

Gawhar Shad Mausoleum and its missing tombstones

Few architectural devices can equal a ribbed dome for blind, monumental ostentation. During his visit to the Musalla Complex in Herat, on the 23rd of November 1933, Robert Byron carefully recorded what remained of the monuments that once were part of the magnificent project, commissioned by Gawhar Shad. The construction of her mausoleum was completed in…

#IslamicForgeries – Intro | Why are they fascinating?

Forgeries are bad. They are fake reproductions of an original object, made on purpose, to fool people. Museums, collectors and scholars feel sort of ashamed when they realise they have displayed, bought or studied a forgery they believed authentic.

Islamic Art & Art Market: how Fall 2015 auctions went

Exactly one month ago the Islamic Art Week started in London, with the traditional auctions at Bonhams (Oct 6th), Sotheby’s (Oct 7th) and Christie’s (Oct 8th and 9th). Coming from a strictly academic background, I have never been much interested in the auction world as a whole but as I have already said and repeat…

Islamic Art in Indonesia – a neglected and problematic heritage

On Wednesday, 28th January 2015, I had the chance to take part to a beautiful and interesting research convention wonderfully organised by ACMES (Amsterdam Centre for Middle Eastern Studies). During the panel entitled “Collecting Islam in Europe”, I was particularly impressed by the presentation of Mirjam Shatanawi (National Museum for World Cultures, Leiden) about Indonesian Islamic Art.

The definition of Islamic Art – sources and comments

It is quite clear that I am highly interested in the definition of Islamic Art. And of course I am not the only one. Surfing the internet it is possible to find contributions and essays (open-access) asking questions and giving old and new perspectives on an issue that is far from be settled. Recently the…

Mary and Jesus or Maryam and Isa?

It was Christmas time in the city, and the virtual Twitter city provided wonderful samples of art, sometimes Christian, sometimes Islamic, depicting nativity scenes or Christmas-related subjects. Once again, a tweet reminded me the subtle distinction between Islamic art, Islamicate art, art produced in Islamic lands, art improperly called Islamic Art.