World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010


Language of Art (297) - Panel

· Date: THU 22, 9.00-11.00 am

· Language: English, Français

· Description:

Chair: Lara Tohme (Wellesley College)

Paper presenter: Lara Tohme (Assistant Professor/Co-Director Architecture Program, Wellesley College, USA), “Processes of Cultural Conversion: Architecture and Identity in the Medieval Mediterranean”
The new discipline of “World History” encourages what has been termed an “encounters” model of historical change, arguing that the course of human civilization is more powerfully shaped by patterns of interaction across the globe than by the separate, parallel histories of individual nations and cultures. Architecture has a critical role to play in this process. If buildings can be “read” to reveal clues about the values, capacities and aspirations of their makers, so too can they be studied as evidence of the interactions between cultures. This paper focuses on the special role that architecture played as a point of intersection, or a “contact zone,” between the disparate cultures of
the Medieval Mediterranean, and the ways in which buildings helped shape the identity of these cultures. This postulation leads to the main set of questions that this paper addresses: What roles did architectural borrowing between cultures play in the construction of political identities? To what extent were these borrowings conscious? As expressions of encounter –were architectural motifs and concepts borrowed or imposed, embraced or resisted? What did they “mean” to those producing them, and to their intended audiences? In order to tackle these questions, this paper examines three well-known examples that illustrate the ways in which Islamic and Christian features were combined in the architecture of the medieval Mediterranean. The first example is the Dome of the Rock (ca. 692) from Umayyad Jerusalem, the second is the Palatine Chapel (ca. 1130-60) from Norman Palermo, and the third is the Qalawun Complex (ca. 1285) from Mamluk Cairo. These particular historical junctures –the Umayyad period in Jerusalem, the Norman period Sicily and the Mamluk period in Egypt- are generally considered by modern historians to be places in which the various cultures of the medieval Mediterranean (both Christian and Islamic) came together in significant and new ways. In addition, these examples demonstrate on concrete levels how forms and techniques, along with ideological or sociopolitical programs were transmitted, manipulated and adopted across the medieval Mediterranean in order to shape a new political identity: the Umayyad, the Norman and the Mamluk, respectively.

Paper presenter: Jacob Durieux (Doctorant, UMR 5608 TRACES, Belgique), “Les Arts Rupestres Islamiques en Afrique: une Nouvelle Page de l’Histoire de l’Art Musulman”
Les questions que nous nous posons à propos des arts rupestres depuis la prédication de l’Islam en Afrique, de leur production, de leurs usages, et de leurs études visent à éclaircir un type d’images qui n’a que trop peu attiré les chercheurs jusqu’à présent. Or dans leur apparenter épétitivité, les figures rupestres produites en lieu d’islam sont riches d’informations négligées. L’histoire de l’art islamique a jusqu’à présent timidement approché l’art nomade, et il y aurait lieu de mettre en lumière les milliers de sites rupestres gravés et peints par des sociétés de religion musulmane dans toute la surface du Dar al-Islam, de l’Atlantique à l’Indonésie. Ces œuvres nous renseignent sur des sociétés marginales où l’écriture et les influences de la culture urbaine sont presque inexistantes et réservées aux élites sociales. Seuls quelques objets de prestige transitant par les régions désertiques et montagneuses sont porteurs de l’iconographie islamique traditionnelle, favorisant son extension dans tout le pays d’islam.
Dans la culture rurale, les productions rupestres sont héritières d’une longue tradition graphique s’enracinant dans le Néolithique et présentant une continuité depuis lors et jusqu'à notre époque. L’évolution des aspects stylistiques, des sujets traités et de leur aire de diffusion nous permet de cartographier des cultures liées aux données historiques que nous possédons et ainsi d’enrichir l’histoire culturelle de l’Afrique musulmane. Elle nous permet aussi de nous rapprocher de la vie des communautés sur lesquelles nous sommes le plus mal renseignés comme les Touaregs dont l’origine reste nébuleuse, ou les Toubous, tout aussi mal connus de l’histoire par manque de sources écrites et le peu de crédit généralement accordé à la tradition historique orale. L’intégration dans les corpus documentaires, sur lesquels s’élaborent les histoires de l’art islamique, de ces œuvres rupestres devrait permettre une approche renouvelée de leur production et de leur réception. Cette ouverture devrait aboutir à un renouveau méthodologique, tant en ce qui concerne les images rupestres de la moitié nord de l’Afrique, que l’histoire classique de l’art islamique.

Paper presenter: Fathi Bashier (Associate Professor, Sharq al-Neel College, Sudan), “The Systems of Proportioning in Medieval Muslim Architecture”
Architecture has since ancient times developed on evolutionary basis in which the classical principles of proportions have been the consistent underlying order. Throughout this historical evolutionary movement the concept of order united world architecture, it derived from the belief that architecture is part of the much grander scheme of nature.
It is frequently observed that the ancients tried to discover the laws upon which nature acted and transfer them to architecture, and designers' wish to imitate the mathematical nature of Creation is frequently claimed. Universal order was eventually translated into principles of mathematical proportion which controlled design of architecture throughout history. Theories and principles of proportion began in Egypt, found their way to Greece and later to Muslim architecture where they were further developed and transferred to medieval Europe.
Muslim architecture has for centuries fascinated architects around the world; it has been most admired for the ingenious geometric pattern focusing on its decorative quality as an end in itself. This simplistic view point overlooks the basic function of Islamic geometric pattern in design of architecture. Islamic geometric pattern was not for decorative purpose alone as most contemporary sources assume. Geometry was broadly used in planning of buildings since the fourteenth century; however, rare attempts have been made at comprehensive study of the role played by geometrical pattern in architectural design.
Muslim concern for geometry and mathematical order in the design of facades and ground plans, had led to the development of advanced systems of proportion based on the use of geometric pattern as modular units. This paper reveals the function of Islamic geometric patterns, other than decoration, which sources have been silent on. It pronounces the principles of medieval Muslim draughtsmanship in which geometric pattern served as basic units or modules used for setting gridlines, measurements and proportions.
Keywords: Muslim architecture, geometry, mathematical pattern, proportioning

Paper presenter: Harseeva Tatiana (Student, South Ural State University, Russia), “Synthesis of the European and Eastern Traditions in the Applied Legacy of Zlatoust”
Bulat: one of the most interesting and mysterious pages in the history of metallurgy. The main purpose of bulat: making blades. The main advantage of the blade: the sharpness of his blade. Blades are made in different colors in India. Ingots of cast bulat in the form of chopped tortillas ''vuttses'' were brought from India to Syria, where the blades forged in the Damask. But Indian damask steel cost is very expensive, and the Syrian blacksmiths invented welded bulat. The quality of the blades of a welded Damascus steel was at that time is very high, but this combination of strength and elasticity as in the arms of a cast of Indian bulat Syrian blacksmiths had not been achieved. In the XIV - XV centuries the secret of production of cast bulat and production of damask steel knives was finally lost. No one century metallurgists all countries and peoples tried to smelt damask steel, but ill-fated secret no one was given. But getting cast bulat, not inferior to the properties of Indian vutts, managed only to a Russian scientist, head of mining Zlatoust plants P.P. Anosov in the 40th years of XIX century. Urals city of Zlatoust gained worldwide fame in XIX century. In 1815 opened the first Zlatoust arms factory, which for nearly two centuries was a major center of production of cold weapons in Russia. Thus, in the works of modern masters of the Zlatoust-gunsmiths re-united with the traditions of the Eurasian and Eastern cultures, transformed into more than a refined art of decorating knives.

Paper presenter: Alireza Taheri (Professeur Assistant, Docteur, Universite de Sistan & Baluchistan), “L'influence de l'art sassanide (Perse) sur les enluminures de Béatus »
Au VIII e siècle, le moine Béatus est devenu abbé du monastère Santo Toribio de Liébana où il écrivit son Commentaire de l'Apocalypse qu'on appelle le Béatus de Liébana et qui fut ensuite abondamment copié et illustré. Entre les images représentées dans les manuscrits de Béatus de Liébana ou d'autres Béatus, quelques figures ont été entièrement (ou dans certains cas partiellement) dessinées sous l'influence de l'art sassanide (Perse). Les figures copiées ou imitées de l'art sassanide, représentées dans les principaux Béatus: Le Simurgh sassanide (Béatus de Liébana) - L’aigle chassant une gazelle (Béatus de Liébana)- L’archer à cheval (Béatus de Facundus)- L’homme à cheval chasse un serpent par sa lance (Béatus de Gérone) - Le paon chasse un serpent (Béatus de Saint-Sever). Les Béatus prennent leurs formes de l’Espagne des trois cultures: l’Espagne de l’Andalousie et de la Reconquête où Judaïsme, Christianisme et Islam coexistèrent huit siècles. Aux premiers siècles de l’Islam, les motifs sassanides commencent à se répandre et immigrer vers l’art islamique et chrétien: animaux fantastiques ou mythologiques, animaux affrontés ou adossés, inscrits dans des cercles ou des médaillons perlés, scènes de chasse et également le Simurgh. De même, ces scènes et ces animaux fantastiques ainsi que les animaux réels (à côté des autres motifs décoratifs et stylisés) représentés sur vaisselles, bols, carafes, voire sur les seaux cylindriques, entrent dans l’art byzantin et l’art médiéval. Il ne faut pas négliger le rôle très important des tissus sassanides au transfert les monstres et les hybrides sassanides à l’art du Moyen âge. De nombreux fragments de soie sassanides arrivèrent en occident grâce au commerce des reliques à l’époque des croisades. Le tissu précieux enveloppant les ossements de saints, la préciosité des textiles persans devait y être connue du fait des relations commerciales avec le monde méditerranéen. Dans l’art islamique, on retrouve partout, des motifs sassanides, notamment en raison de la reprise des structures de pouvoir sassanides par les Umayyades, ce qui permet aux ateliers locaux de poursuivre leur activité. Les musulmans étaient aux frontières de l’art roman et les contacts étaient fréquents en Espagne.

Paper presenter: Farideh Zariv (Lecturer, Palangi Art gallery), “A journey through the Iranian painting for centuries”
The Iranian paining has continued its way in form of bas-reliefs on the walls, drawings, on the bowls and pottery jugs, the bright silver and gold dishes, on the warps and wefts of rugs and fabrics. The Iranian artist has always connected art to daily life and has mingled the spiritual, the beauty and manifestation with applied aspect. If we want to search truthfully for the history of the Iranian painting, we must find its traces on these objects. However, what is known today as the Iranian painting is the pictures used for the decoration of the books. What the Westerner has wrongly called miniature various researches and writers have each classified the history of Iranian painting according to their own taste sometimes based on the coming to the throne or the king or his dethroning sometimes on the dates and days that sometimes because a city has become a centre of a region. Nowadays the various periods of the art of Iranian painting has been divided into some schools which have been accepted by the men of literary with minor differences.