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The study of Islamic art, particularly that from Egypt, is as changing as the desert sands. Just when we think we know the facts, a new discovery clarifies our understanding. Here, Bloom (Islamic & Asian art, Boston Coll.; Paper Before Print) provides the latest take on Cairo's incarnation and the development of Fatimid art and architecture in that city. Fatimids are Shi'is best known for founding the city of al-Qahira, present-day Cairo. The development of the arts in Cairo was tied to the city's military conquests and plans for expansion, and although the decorative arts flourished there, perhaps the biggest influence for future generations was in architecture. Chapters are divided into time periods ranging from 909 to 1060 C.E. and are illustrated with more than 100 mostly color photographs. Drawing largely on the work of historian Ali al-Maqrizi, one of the best sources despite having lived three centuries after the fact, Bloom provides careful research and notes new findings, such as those relating to whether Egyptians relied on techniques for stonework that were already known to them or whether the skills were imported from Syria. Recommended for academic libraries and libraries specializing in Islamic arts, art history, and Middle Eastern studies.
—Nadine Dalton Speidel