The Legacy of Genghis Khan: Courtly Art and Culture in Western Asia, 1256-1353

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"Under the leadership of Genghis Khan, nomadic horsemen burst out of Mongolia in the thirteenth century and began their sweep across Asia, creating the largest empire the world has ever known. Particularly in Iran and China, the results were far-reaching: the Mongols imposed enormous changes but at the same time were profoundly influenced by the highly developed civilizations of their new subjects. Greater Iran was ruled for a century (1256-1353) by the Mongol dynasty known as the Ilkhanids. These Mongol masters first opposed and then enthusiastically adopted Islam. They became sponsors of a brilliant cultural flowering that encompassed the writing of histories, city-building, and many branches of the arts. Local Persian artistic traditions were themselves transformed by Mongol preferences and by contracts with the arts of Europe and especially China, as wares and craftsmen from China and Iran traveled back forth across the empire." More than two hundred outstanding objects exemplifying all these branches of the arts are illustrated in color and fully described in this catalogue. Eight distinguished scholars in the field present the historical and political background of the Ilkhanid era and address such subjects as manuscript illustration, religious art, and the transmission of design motifs across Asia. Also included are two technical studies, maps, a genealogical chart, and a complete bibliography.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Published in association with New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, this exhibition catalogue for a show currently at the Met (and to be mounted in Los Angeles this spring) offers 280 illustrations (200 in full color) of the cultural explosion that paradoxically took place after the brutal Mongol conquest of the Islamic world. Komaroff, curator of Islamic art and department head of ancient and Islamic art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Carboni, the Met's associate curator of Islamic art, have assembled eight illustrated essays from various scholars, detailing not only the art, but what life was like in "Ilkhanid" (or "subject to Khan") lands. Glorious full-page manuscript plates like King Kayd of Hind Recounting His Dream to Mihran from the Great Mongol Shahnama ("Book of Kings") show colors and spatial conceptions very different from Medieval Christian art. Tilework, architectural plans, tapestry, metalwork, lacquered pieces and much more material culture round things out beautifully, though the book's layout can make it seem like standard, somewhat stodgy catalogue fare. While the Mongol conquest did mean the end of parts of the flourishing, formerly Turkish-ruled patchwork empire's culture, this book and exhibit make a historically downplayed "legacy" come to life. (Nov. 28) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
So you thought Genghis Khan was a rapacious warlord who swept down out of Mongolia and captured half the known world in a particularly bloody manner? That is indeed true, but there is another side of the Mongolian Conquest-the thoughtful, artistic side. Genghis Khan's grandsons Khubilai and Hulegu ruled, respectively, China and Persia, and in the period cited (1256-1353) those two civilizations created artistic works of lasting beauty. Crediting the Mongols for the enduring achievements of China and Persia may be akin to crediting Richard Nixon with the birth of the personal computer because some guys in Palo Alto were inventing it during his administration. Still, the title is catchier than the rather more accurate Massive Book of Beautiful Things from the Ilkhanid Dynasty. Insubstantiality of thesis aside, this is a fine catalog of the painting, metalwork, and ceramics of the Persians under the Ilkhanid (Mongolian) dynasty. The book, accompanying an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that will move to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (April 13 to July 27), is beautifully printed and illustrated with more than 200 reproductions and offers a scholarly text edited by Met and LACMA curators. Though it is not the only book available on Persian art (see also Eleanor Sims's Peerless Images and Vladimir Loukonine's Lost Treasures of Persia), it is the only one to focus so tightly on the influence of the Mongolian overlords on the indigenous Persian craftsmen of the period. For larger public and academic libraries.-David McClelland, Philadelphia Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300096910
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2002
  • Series: Metropolitan Museum of Art Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 9.33 (w) x 12.29 (h) x 1.33 (d)

Table of Contents

Directors' Foreword
Lenders to the Exhibition
Contributors to the Catalogue
Notes to the Reader
Introduction: On the Eve of the Mongol Conquest 2
1 The Mongols and Their Legacy 12
2 The Mongols in Iran 36
3 A Note on Artistic Exchanges in the Mongol Empire 62
4 Ilkhanid Courtly Life 74
5 The Religious Art of the Ilkhanids 104
6 The Arts of the Book in Ilkhanid Iran 134
7 The Transmission and Dissemination of a New Visual Language 168
8 Synthesis: Continuity and Innovation in Ilkhanid Art 196
Technical Study 1: Close Examination of Leaves from the Great Mongol Shahnama 226
Technical Study 2: The Glazed Press-Molded Tiles of Takht-i Sulaiman 233
Catalogue 243
Bibliography 289
Index 309
Photograph Credits 322
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