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Donovan Kavish

By dkavish
  • 500

    Plate with king hunting lions

    Plate with king hunting lions
    This is an example of a Sassanian style plate. The Sassanians, a civilization that preceeded the Islamic empires, had a rich visual tradition that was closely imitated by early Islamic artists, especially during the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties.
  • Oct 28, 610

    Muhammad's Revelations

    Muhammad, the last in the line of Judeo-Christian prophets, receives revelations from Allah that become the Qur'an, the basis of the Islamic faith. Very little from the Qur'an or the Hadith (accounts of Muhammad's actions and teachings) pertains directly to visual culture leaving everything up to later interpretation. Qur'an means "recitation" and, because it is not focused on detailed stories, does not lend itself immediately to illustration.
  • Oct 29, 630

    Rededication of the Ka'ba

    Rededication of the Ka'ba
    The Ka'ba is a symmetrical shrine located in what is today Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is the directional focus of Islamic prayer and is always covered in a veil that is now black but previously was in many colors.
  • Period: Jan 27, 651 to Oct 27, 750

    Syrian Umayyads

    Trends: eclecticism, experimentalism, and propagandism
  • Oct 29, 750


    Mshatta is a never completed palace city of the Umayyads located in present day Jordan. It is most well known for the rich ornament found on a preserved outer wall that features Sassanian inspired solar rosettes, vegetal motifs, and zig-zag moulding adapted from Christian Syrian architecture.
  • Oct 29, 1000


    This ewer is carved out of rock crystal and features repeating vegetal and figural motifs. Although the technology for carving rock crystal already existed, the Fatimids brought these techniques to new heights of precision and artistry. Exquisite rock crystal carvings such as this one reflect the Fatimid's love of luxury and the focus on court culture.
  • Oct 28, 1010

    Ferdowsi finishes writing the Shahnameh

    The Shahnameh is also known as the "History of Kings" and is considered the epic poem of Iran. This work inspired the Persian illuminated manuscript and, thus, has a much broader affect on Islamic book arts. Not only has this particular book been illuminated many times over, but it also established a tradition of illustration of all sorts of texts that pervades Islamic art and reaches its apogee under the Safavids.
  • Period: Oct 27, 1055 to Oct 27, 1194

    The Seljuqs

    Trends: innovation, consolidation, and refinement of major technical feats
  • Period: Oct 27, 1062 to Oct 27, 1150

    The Almovarids

    Trends: introversion and conservativism
  • Oct 29, 1137

    Minbar from the the Kutubiyya Mosque

    Minbar from the the Kutubiyya Mosque
    This minbar is made of ornately carved wood, was built in Cordoba, and then was shipped to the Jami' al-Kutubiyya in Marrakesh, Morocco. It features intricately carved vegetal and geometric motifs as well as bands of Kufic script made of blackwood and bone. The craftsmanship evident in this minbar is considered virtually unparalleled.
  • Period: Oct 27, 1150 to Oct 27, 1269

    The Almohads

    Trends: introversion and conservativism
  • Oct 30, 1150

    Introduction of cursive scripts

    Introduction of cursive scripts
    The introduction of cursive scripts in the 12th century was a significant development in Islamic art. Calligraphy is extremely common on everything from earthenware to architecture to more traditional books and Qur'ans, thus new scripts allowed for further differentiation and stylization. Examples include: thuluth, nashkhi, and muhaqqaq among others
  • Oct 29, 1210

    Pen box, Iran

    Pen box, Iran
    This pen box is a fine example of Saljuq metalwork. Khorasan was a major center for metalwork. The Saljuqs are known for their brass objects inlaid with copper, silver, gold, precious stones, and even black organic material. This brass pen box is inlaid with copper, silver, and black organic material and features the playful animated letters characteristic of the Saljuqs.
  • Oct 30, 1229

    Sultan caravanserai near Aksaray, Turkey

    Sultan caravanserai near Aksaray, Turkey
    Caravanserais provided safe places for travelers to spend the night for free along the major trade routes. The Sultan caravanserai exemplifies the typical structure consisting of high, fortified walls containing a large courtyard surrounded by rooms and a large vaulted hall. Of particular interest is the ornately decorated entrance portal.
  • Period: Oct 27, 1232 to Oct 27, 1492

    The Nasrids

    Trends: introversion and conservativism
  • Period: Oct 27, 1244 to Oct 27, 1465

    The Marinids

    Trends: introversion and conservativism
  • Period: Oct 27, 1250 to Oct 27, 1517

    The Mamluks

    Trends: competition, ceremony, commemoration, and conservatism
  • Oct 30, 1250

    Paper becomes widely accessible in the 13th century

    Paper becomes widely accessible in the 13th century
    The increased availability of paper really enabled the expansion of the book arts under the Il-khanids. This is not only clear in the lavish Jani-al-Tawarikhs produced, but also in the increasing accessibility of art and books to a growing middle class.
  • Period: Oct 27, 1256 to Oct 27, 1353

    The Il-khanids

    Trends: chinoiserie, resurgence of Iranian culture and aesthetic styles, and monumentality
  • Oct 30, 1258

    Fall of Baghdad

    Fall of Baghdad
    The sacking of the Abbasid caliphmate in Baghdad by the Mongols had particular impact on the medieval book arts. Production shifted eastward to Iran privileging Persian styles and attitudes towards text and illustration. Fiction becomes more popular during this period.
  • Oct 30, 1270

    Takht­‐i‐Sulayman, North-west Iran

    Takht­‐i‐Sulayman, North-west Iran
    Takht-i-Sulayman is a palace built by Abaqa Khan on a site atop an extinct volcano and surrounding the perpetual lake that formed in the crater. The site had been sacred to the Sassanians, a fact that was deliberately exploited to lend the Il-Khanids greater legitimacy. Quotes from the Shahnameh are incorporated into an overall Chinese inspired decorative style throughout the palace.
  • Period: Oct 27, 1281 to

    The Ottomans

    Trends: uniformity and monumentality
  • Oct 30, 1285

    Mosque lamp, Mamluk

    Mosque lamp, Mamluk
    The Mamluks are particularly known for their mosque lamps. These glass lamps often featured a blazon, or emblem, as in the picture to the left and served both a practical lighting function as well as a symbolic one given the recurrence of light metaphors in the Islamic tradition.
  • Oct 30, 1304

    Frontispiece of Baybar II’s Koran, Mamluk. Illuminated by Sandal (Abu Bakr)

    Frontispiece of Baybar II’s Koran, Mamluk. Illuminated by Sandal (Abu Bakr)
    Qur'ans were the most popular illuminated manuscripts under the Mamluks. These Qur'ans were ornately decorated as can be seen in the picture. Thus, they played a role in the pious "one-upmanship" characteristic of the unstable rule of the Mamluk period.
  • Oct 30, 1307

    Tomb of Uljaytu, Sultaniya,Iran

    Tomb of Uljaytu, Sultaniya,Iran
    This tomb, built by Uljaytu himself, also features a funerary chapel. It is particularly known for its large dome that seemingly rises directly from its octagonal base and for the intricate ornament decorating the outside. This ornament consists of brick adn kufic inscriptions framed with or by turquoise glazed tile.
  • Oct 30, 1307

    The Jami-al-Tawarikh (History of the World) is written.

    The Jami-al-Tawarikh (History of the World) is written.
    This book is representative of the Il-khanid attitude toward ruling in the Islamic world, They further developed established traditions while increasing Chinese influence. The Jami-al-Tawarikh is an attempt to lend legitimacy to Mongol rule by asserting their cultural legacy. Here we also see the tradition of playing with borders as evidenced (subtlely in this case) in the picture to the left.
  • Oct 30, 1363

    The building of the Sultan Hassan funerary complex

    The building of the Sultan Hassan funerary complex
    This complex exemplifies the architecture of the Mamluk period in Egypt. The instability of the ruling elite lead to significant building projects as a way of projecting power and as a way of ensuring descendants a form of inheritance through endowments. It also represents the unique responses needed to build large complexes within urban areas, particularly Cairo, that can be seen in later architecture in places like Istanbul.
  • Period: Oct 28, 1370 to Oct 28, 1507

    The Timurids

    Trend: sustained interest in Iranian culture and aesthetic styles
  • Oct 30, 1417

    Ulugh Beg madrasa, Samarkand, Uzbekistan Back view of entrance portal

    Ulugh Beg madrasa, Samarkand, Uzbekistan Back view of entrance portal
    This madrasa is built along the four iwan plan with minarets at all four corners and a massive pishtaq facing the square. It is most well known for the extensive hazbaraf ornamentation influenced by the Saljuk and Ilkhanid traditions and mosaic faience that covers the entire outside of the madrasa.
  • May 29, 1453

    The Fall of Constantinople

    While the Ottoman Empire already reached beyond the city at this point, this victory is full of symbolism. It represents the fall of the Byzantines and of the stretching of the empire into Europe (the Ottomans got as far as Vienna and controlled much of the Balkans). The grandeur of Byzantine architecture (ex. Hagia Sophia) inspired Muslim architects (especially Sinan) to create awe inspiring buildings and whole complexes.
  • Oct 30, 1488

    The Seduction of Yusuf from the poet Sa'adi’s Bustan (The Fruit Orchard); Bihza. Produced for Timurid prince Husayn Bayqara

    The Seduction of Yusuf from the poet Sa'adi’s Bustan (The Fruit Orchard); Bihza. Produced for Timurid prince Husayn Bayqara
    This illuminated manuscript comes from the Timurid dynasty, a time considered by many to be the apogee of the art of the Persian book. As can be seen in the picture, the illustration dominates the page with boxes of text above, below, and interwoven inside the painting and makes no attempt at demonstrating depth. This particular illustration is even signed and dated by the painter himself (Bhiza).
  • Period: Oct 28, 1501 to

    The Safavids

    Trend: theatricallity
  • Period: Apr 21, 1526 to

    The Mughals

    Trend: eclecticism
  • Oct 30, 1548

    Suleymaniye complex; Istanbul, Turkey

    Suleymaniye complex; Istanbul, Turkey
    This complex was designed and built by the great architect Sinan for Sultan Suleyman. Built not long after the capture and rededication of Constantinople, the complex serves as an Islamic architectural challenge to the Hagia Sophia, the most magnificent building in the city at the time and a symbol of the former Byzantine rulers.
  • Oct 30, 1550

    The Emperor’s carpet, Iran, silk (warp and weft)

    The Emperor’s carpet, Iran, silk (warp and weft)
    Carpets such as this one were immensely popular and were ultimately functional, thus few survive. The introduction of silk allowed for the production of finer detail. The Emperor's carpet consists of both vegetal and figural motifs. The lions in the central section of the carpet are portrayed with a significant degree of realism.
  • Oct 30, 1555

    Tughra of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent

    Tughra of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent
    This is the signature or royal seal of Sultan Suleyman. Each of the Ottoman sultans had their own Tughra. It is a highly ornate and stylized form of calligraphy that took multiple official artists to complete.
  • Oct 30, 1571

    Fatehpur Sikri palace complex

    Fatehpur Sikri palace complex
    The Fatehpur Sikri complex was built by Akbar using a blend of Timurid and Hindu traditions. Of particular interest is the tomb of Shaykh Salim Chishti inside the complex. The tomb is constructed entirely of white marble and features the jali shades the Mughals are famous for. Joli is intricate laticework that generally covers windows enabling both airflow and additional light to enter. As light enters, intricate shadows are cast throughout the inside of the tomb due to the jali.
  • Detached page from Harivamsa (Legend of Hari Krishna)

    Detached page from Harivamsa (Legend of Hari Krishna)
    This illustrated manuscript shows the ruling Islamic dynasty's willingness to adopt and adapt to the culture of the people they ruled. Depicted here is a scene from the Hindu legend of Hari Krishna featuring a variety of influences including Indian, Chinese, Persian, and even European elements.
  • Maidan-e-Shah square

    Maidan-e-Shah square
    The Maidan-e-Shah square in Isfahan, Iran was begun by Shah Abbas I. It is perhaps most famous due to the buildings enclosing the square. These include the Shah Mosque, the Shaykh Lutfallah Mosque, the Ali Paqu Palace, and the Isfahan Grand Bazaar.
  • Taj Mahal complex

    Taj Mahal complex
    Commissioned for Shah Jahan's wife, the Taj Mahal is perhaps the crowning achievment of Mughal architecture. The complex features a triatic opening gate made of red sandstone with white marble inlaid with precious stones and muqarnas made of red sandstone outlined in white paint. The pietra dura of precious stones suggests European influence, while the central mausoleum suggests a Persian influence, and all combined with the red sandstone and ehatri domes typical of India.
  • Fall of the Ottoman Empire following WWI

    Fall of the Ottoman Empire following WWI
    This represents the end of the great Islamic empires. With this comes the end of major centralized royal patronage of the arts and architecture.
  • Dome of the Rock

    Dome of the Rock
    Built on top of Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem, the Dome of the Rock is an important commemorative building intended for pilgrimage. The interior is ornamented with mosaics (no figural representations though) and epigraphy. The overall structure is inspired by the Byzantine tradition and was likely chosen to upstage the nearby domed church of the Holy Sepulchre.
  • Bowl, 9th century

    Bowl, 9th century
    This is an example of an Abbasid earthenware bowl, tin glazed and stained. It was found in Iraq and features simple, patterned ornamentation in black around the rim of the bowl with additional black epigraphy in the center, acknowledging the round shape inherent to the object.
  • The Great Mosque of Samarra

    The Great Mosque of Samarra
    The Great Mosque of Samarra is one of the largest mosques in the world and features a unique minaret known as the Malwiya Minaret. It is likely modeled after the ziggurat, an architectural form popular in Mesopotamia and used to be connected to the mosque by a bridge. At the top is small, circular room decorated by 8 arcs on the outside. The room was damaged by insurgents in 2005.
  • Great Mosque of Córdoba

    Great Mosque of Córdoba
    Tradition holds that the Great Mosque was built on the site of a Christian church purchased by the victorious Muslims. The original was a hypostyle mosque with a baroque inspired minaret. It has undergone extensive enlargements and modifications over the years both by Islamic dynasties in Spain and by the local clergy once control of the city was regained by the Christians.
  • Umayyad conquest of Spain

    Umayyad conquest of Spain
    This paved the way for the continuation of the Umayyad caliphate in Spain, centered around Cordoba, of Abd ar-Rahman I, the last surviving memeber of the Umayyad royal family destroyed by the Abbasids. The encounter with existing traditions (Roman, European, Jewish, Christian) can be seen in their visual culture. For example, the system of double arches inside the mosque likely were modeled after Roman aqueducts.
  • Textile fragment

    Textile fragment
    This is a textile fragment from the Fatimid period in Egypt. Textiles were a royal monopoly and were often used as gifts to both visiting diginitaries and members of the court to denote their status and favor. This particular fragment features multiple fields of ornament with a patterned vegetal motif contained within a gold border and further framed by the red pattern work.
  • Period: to Oct 27, 1031

    Umayyad Spain

    Trend: introversion
  • Period: to Oct 27, 1171

    The Fatimids

    Trends: Shi'ite culture, realism, and urbanism
  • Period: to Oct 28, 1258

    The Abbasids

    Trends: innovation and unity