Figurative Art in Medieval Islam

Overview

In terms of elucidating inner meaning and symbolism, the study of medieval Islamic art has lagged almost a full century behind that of medieval Western art. This groundbreaking work suggests how it might at last prove possible to crack the allegorical code of medieval Islamic painting during its Golden Age between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries. Barry focuses his study around the work of Bihzâd, a painter who flourished in the late fifteenth century in the kingdom of Herat, now in Afghanistan. Bihzâd ...
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Overview

In terms of elucidating inner meaning and symbolism, the study of medieval Islamic art has lagged almost a full century behind that of medieval Western art. This groundbreaking work suggests how it might at last prove possible to crack the allegorical code of medieval Islamic painting during its Golden Age between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries. Barry focuses his study around the work of Bihzâd, a painter who flourished in the late fifteenth century in the kingdom of Herat, now in Afghanistan. Bihzâd became the undisputed master of the “Persian miniature” and an almost mythical personality throughout Asian Islam. By carefully deciphering the visual symbols in medieval Islamic figurative art, Barry’s study deliberately takes a bold approach in order to decode the lost iconographic conventions of a civilization. The glorious illustrations, scholarly text, and extracts from Persian poetry, many translated into English for the first time, combine to create an essential new work of reference and a visual delight.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This volume examines the existence of figurative art in Islam, an art form accepted in Persia, Mughal India, and Afghanistan that contradicts the strict injunctions against human representation by Islam (lest it encourage idolatry). Barry (lecturer, Near Eastern studies, Princeton Univ.) discusses the Greek, Arabic, and Persian preludes to this art, citing informative quotations in original works and their translations. He then examines the work and methodology of late 15th-century painter Bihzad of Herat, a recognized master of the art of the Persian miniature, which Persian and Mughal painting specialist Stuart Cary Welch discusses in the foreword. Barry is interested in the allegorical meanings of medieval Islamic painting and deciphers the visual symbols that pervade these works. What results is a sumptuous volume filled with more than 300 beautifully reproduced illustrations accompanied by a finely written text. One particularly fascinating chapter discusses the formation of figurative art in Islam from the eighth through the 15th century. There is an extensive bibliography, two small maps, and a carefully constructed chronology, all of which are very helpful. An important contribution to the study of Islamic art; for all serious art libraries.-Martin Chasin, Adult Inst., Bridgeport, CT Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9782080304216
  • Publisher: Rizzoli
  • Publication date: 5/17/2005
  • Pages: 408
  • Product dimensions: 9.70 (w) x 12.50 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Barry, born in New York City in 1948, raised in France, now lectures at Princeton University, his alma mater, on the traditional and modern cultures of Iran and especially Afghanistan. Barry is widely published and holds six literary prizes.
Stuart Cary Welch, former curator of Islamic and Later Indian Art at Harvard University’s Fogg and Sackler Museums, is widely recognized as one of the world’s foremost specialists of Persian and Mughal painting.
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