The so-called “Great Mongol Shāhnāma” is an illustrated manuscript attributable to Tabrīz (northwest Iran) in the 1330s during the Ilkhanid period. Only one-fourth of the original manuscript survives and its folios are currently dispersed among collections. To examine how the painters prepared their illustrations for this manuscript, this paper takes up the scenes of mourning, which was an uncommon subject for illustration. When the text and the image are closely examined together, it is clear that the painters followed only the text transcribed on the folios they were assigned to illustrate. They tried to visualize what was written in the text as much as possible, almost word by word, but had to compensate for some lack of information with contemporary funerary customs. The discrepancy between the text and image (i.e. exterior vs. interior setting) of the “Picture of the Coffin of Iskandar” (Freer Gallery of Art, F1938.3), one of the most famous paintings from the manuscript, can be fully understood when this suggested procedure of creating illustrations is considered.
Some ornaments of the applied arts produced in the Seljuq period include images of the zodiac signs and the seven planets, including the Moon and Sun. In the field of metalwork, relatively many examples are seen, but in ceramics and particularly mīnāʾī ware, their occurrence is rare. Therefore, the fragmentary polychrome mīnāʾī bowl with zodiac designs in the Middle Eastern Culture Center in Japan is of great value in the study of these iconographies. In this paper, the designs of the zodiac signs of Sagittarius and Gemini in polychrome colors are focused on and reconsidered. These images are examined through the texts describing the figures of these zodiac signs and by comparing them with works of art with the same designs dating from the eighth century to the early thirteenth century. The paper clarifies the transformation of the iconography from one of an expression of the ecliptic dragon in astrology to that of the symbol of royalty in the tradition of Persian art.
Research concerning the material culture of the Mamluks in Syria and Egypt has made great strides in the last few decades. Much of this research, however, tends to focus on the Baḥrī Mamluk period (1250–1382), paying little attention to the subsequent Burjī Mamluk period (1382–1517). The current paper therefore seeks to bridge this conspicuous gap in the field of ceramic studies by discussing a group of underglaze-painted vessels/tiles bearing signatures such as that of “Ghaybī,” a pottery workshop active probably around the Cairene area during the fifteenth century. First, the history of collecting this group of ceramics is explored in an attempt to understand why these works have remained understudied despite there being a keen interest in them among connoisseurs from the late nineteenth century onwards. Then, based on my database that contains 427 samples of signed underglaze-painted vessels from major private/museum collections, the properties (shape, technique, and surface decoration) of the pieces produced by the Ghaybī workshop are presented taxonomically. In doing so, this study not only reveals that an apprenticeship system seems to have been established within this workshop, but also suggests that Cairene workshops other than that of Ghaybī also had a notable output and a role to play in the production of ceramics. Finally, four tiles, one from a Cairene and two from Damascene religious monuments, and one unprovenanced tile, which could be attributed to the Ghaybī workshop, are examined together for the first time. Particular emphasis is placed on the architectural context of each object, with the aim of investigating the social and cultural milieu in which the demand for such products signed “Ghaybī” arose during the fifteenth and perhaps through the early sixteenth century.
This paper reveals the practice of compounding medicines from the perspective of medieval Arabic medical books and the Cairo Genizah, focusing on ophthalmology. Some researchers have argued that, due to the large number of new remedies added through experience and trade, physicians gradually became free from the classical four-quality theory. However, our study shows that a kind of logic can be discerned in compound medicines, and that this logic requires knowledge of the classical four-quality theory. The practical dimensions have been neglected because most Arabic materials do not say anything about it. Given this textual restriction, The Cairo Genizah is important for Arabic medical history, because it o ers abundant information about medical practices.
Among medical fragments of the Cairo Genizah, we focused on the speci c genre, which we would call “notebooks.” The text found in notebooks is consisting of recipes for compound medicines. Quite often, the genizah notebooks contain original recipes that are not found in the medical books. These are thought to be clearer re ections of the actual practice in medieval Cairo. We took up treatments of conjunctivitis (ramad) and eruptions of the eyelids (jarab). Firstly, we explored several medical books, and summarized the descriptions that related to the treatments of these eye diseases. Secondly, turning to the genizah notebooks, we collected recipes for the eye medicines, listed all of the ingredients, and checked their qualities. Finally, taking the characteristics of each ingredient into consideration, we examined whether or not these recipes exhibited theoretical consistency. Through a close examination of these materials, we found that the ingredients in the notebook recipes are different from those in the medical books, although their temperaments fulfill the conditions required for particular treatments. The ophthalmologists might have recognized the required effects for certain eye diseases, and then chosen substances that met those requirements.
This paper discusses the relationship between alchemy and making “chemically” processed products, such as drugs and perfumes. We look into al-Kindī’s understanding of alchemy and description of perfume making to discuss this issue. As for the former, Ibn al-Nadīm’s Fihrist mentions his writing on the attack on alchemy, but the original text has been lost. However, his idea is cited in Ḥājjī Khalīfa’s Kashf al-Ẓunūn, so we examine this text to understand al-Kindī’s view on alchemy. As for the latter, we specifically examine distillation technique. Before the examination of al-Kindī’s text, we review the alchemical meaning of distillation from the texts of Jabirian corpus. Then, we investigate the distillation technique in his perfume making text, Kitāb Kīmiyāʾ al-ʿIṭr wa-’l-Taṣʿīdāt to clarify the difference between distillation in perfume making and alchemy.
The local brick dome technique had already existed when muqarnas started to appear as a feature in the transitional zone of domes in Egyptian architecture. Based on a detailed analysis of the transitional zone of domes in Egypt dating from the Fatimid to the end of the Mamluk era, 126 examples of muqarnas can be classified into four types according to their forms and geometrical features when projected onto a horizontal plane from above. These four types can be sub-divided into fourteen sub-types. Based on a morphological classification, six stylistic periods are identified as follows: The first period is from the 1050s to the 1230s, when the vernacular technique of the brick dome might have evolved into the muqarnas with a trefoil arch. The second period is from the 1240s to the 1310s, when a geometric change occurred based on the local tradition of muqarnas using multi-foil arches. The third period is from the 1320s to the 1360s, when the influence of stone muqarnas from Syria became evident. The fourth period is from the 1370s to the 1400s, when the local development of muqarnas based on corbeling and the multi-foil arch was preferred. The fifth period is from the 1410s to the 1450s, when the trend of the fourth period was promoted and innovations were made. The sixth and final period is from the 1460s to the 1510s, when the complete form based on the local tradition appeared. Through this analysis of the use of muqarnas in the transitional zone, it is clear that foreign influences were at some points important to their development. However, adopting, compromising and subliming these influences with local tradition or aesthetics constituted the major way in which the style and use of muqarnas in domes evolved in Egypt from the eleventh to early sixteenth century.
This study reexamines the four Emar texts of real estate sales by the urban authority which include an account concerning arana. Although the present writer’s first attempt to interpret those accounts was rejected by two scholars, their arguments were rather problematic. On the other hand, an investigation of the ‘waste plots’ attested in the texts from Emar and Ekalte shows that the real estate sold in the four texts belongs to this category. The function of the account in those texts is to explain how the urban authority acquired the real estate now being sold. The present writer argues again that it describes an extensive exchange in Emar of royal (i.e., King Arana’s) real estate for urban money that occurred in the period before the Emar texts, and that the ‘waste plots’ sold in the four texts are remnants of this exchange which the urban authority had not sold off during this long period of time.