Cairo’s museums are home to some of the richest collections of Islamic art in the world. Long the seat of great dynasties, whose rulers and descendants both amassed and patronized works of art, Cairo’s status as one of the wealthiest and most populous cities of the medieval world is reflected in the exiquisite arts and crafts that make up its collections, which expanded in the twentieth century through the purchase of private collections so that they now include not just the arts of the dynasties that made Cairo their capital, such as the Fatimids, Ayyubids, and Mamluks, but material from other important areas of the Islamic world, such as Iran and Turkey. Masterpieces of every medium are represented, including the decorative arts of ceramics, metalwork, textiles, woodwork, glass, carved stone and ivory, and the art of the book. The objects vary from pieces made for purely secular purposes, many of them with blazons showing that they were the property of the great amirs of the time, to some of the choicest examples recovered from the architectural masterpieces that permeate Cairo’s landscape. An introductory chapter guides the reader into the world of Islam and its art, while subsequent chapters unfold and describe the riches of the works of art that were crafted and amassed throughout the ages. The book is lavishly illustrated throughout with specially commissioned color photographs. Contributors: Mohamed Abbas, Noha Abou-Khatwa, Farouk Askar, Mohamed Hamza, Bernard O’Kane.
The Treasures of Islamic Art in the Museums of Cairo
300 color illus.
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The World of Islamic Art presents a vivid portrait of the cultural heritage of Islam and its great artistic traditions, across an enormous span of geography and time. Having originated in the remote deserts of the Arabian peninsula, Islam grew so quickly that within a century it had dominated North Africa and the former Christian heartlands of Syria and Anatolia. From there the community of believers spread eastward to Persia, Afghanistan, Central Asia, and India, eventually reaching China, Indonesia, and elsewhere in the Far East. The historical diffusion of this truly global religion is related in seven chapters devoted to regionally dominant kingdoms and empires. Each chapter contains an illuminating commentary revealing the beauty and breadth of the many artistic influences—it is explained, for example, how figural imagery was often displaced by calligraphic and geometric forms, and how the sense of the divine in Islam came to be symbolized by the harmonious use of color, pattern, and proportion. Illustrated throughout with a wealth of ornate, often sublime, examples, which include paintings, jewelry, metalwork, sculpture, architecture, and many other art forms, The World of Islamic Art celebrates Islam’s truly magnificent contribution to the cultural and spiritual heritage of humankind....read more
170 color photographs
Early Persian Painting
Kalila and Dimna Manuscripts of the Late 14th Century
Bernard O’Kane 35.00
Kalila and Dimna Manuscripts of the Late 14th CenturyBernard O’Kane
Kalila wa Dimna (or The Fables of Bidpai) is one of the gems of world culture, having been translated through the centuries everywhere from China to Spain. The stories of Kalila wa Dimna, like the Fables of Aesop or Lafontaine, are subtle and suggestive moral tales—a kind of repository of wisdom and understanding about the human condition. It was the most commonly illustrated medieval Islamic text. This book focuses on the group of seven Persian manuscripts from the second half of the fourteenth century, which contain several of the finest masterpieces of Persian painting. It is a work of enormous erudition and scholarly importance, a huge contribution for art historians and students interested in Persian painting and early Islamic art. In a world now besotted with images, these superb early paintings can give us a glimpse of the power and delight that they must have given their original viewers, and help explain the work’s attractiveness throughout the ages. “These pages will remain forever as a basic tool for all further work on this particular text and as a model for the study of illustrated manuscripts in general”—Oleg Grabar, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton...read more
50 b/w, 91 color illus.
Messages of Love and Politics
Mia Gröndahl 16.95
Messages of Love and PoliticsMia Gröndahl
Graffiti began in Gaza in 1987, during the first Intifada, when there was no Palestinian television or radio in the Gaza Strip, and no newspapers: the messages that spread along the walls became an important means of communication. Over the years, all political groups have had their own graffiti artists. Scrawl is not tolerated—it has to look good. Hamas even offers evening classes in graffiti. Documenting the writings on the walls of Gaza over a period of seven years, celebrated Swedish photojournalist Mia Gröndahl lays before us the many roles that they perform, the colorful and surprising range of their artistic expression, and their reflection of the changing political situation. And apart from political slogans, the walls bear witness too to joy and sadness: the wedding celebrations, the many victims of the conflict, and the ever present hope of peace and freedom. For us on the outside, Mia Gröndahl’s photographs offer an exciting and unexpected view of life in Gaza....read more
150 color illus.
Architecture for the Poor
An Experiment in Rural Egypt
Hassan Fathy 18.95
An Experiment in Rural EgyptHassan Fathy
In this now classic work, Hassan Fathy, Egypt’s greatest twentieth-century architect, describes in detail his plan for building the village of New Gourna on the west bank of the Nile at Luxor, employing both the traditional building material, mud brick, and such traditional Egyptian architectural features as enclosed courtyards and domed and vaulted roofing. Fathy worked closely with the people to tailor his designs to their needs; he taught them how to work with the mud bricks, supervised the erection of the buildings, and encouraged the revival of ancient techniques, such as the use of claustra (mud-brick latticework) to adorn the buildings. Although bureaucratic red tape and other problems prevented the completion of New Gourna, Fathy’s ideas have since commanded widespread attention both inside and outside Egypt, and Architecture for the Poor remains a testament to his vision as an architect of conscience. “Fathy demonstrates very powerfully that it is possible to build for the poor … cheaply and humanly by the use of earth for building and by teaching people to build for themselves. There is no other book quite like this.” —Choice...read more
8 December 2016
132 b/w illus.
The History and Religious Heritage of Old Cairo
Its Fortress, Churches, Synagogue, and Mosque
Edited by Carolyn Ludwig Morris Jackson Photographs by Sherif Sonbol 34.99
Its Fortress, Churches, Synagogue, and MosqueEdited by Carolyn Ludwig
Photographs by Sherif Sonbol
Just to the south of modern Cairo stands the historic enclave known as Old Cairo, which grew up in and around the Roman fortress of Babylon, and which today hosts a unique collection of monuments that attest to the shared cultural heritage of ancient Egyptians, Christians, Jews, and Muslims. In this lavishly illustrated celebration of a very special place, renowned photographer Sherif Sonbol’s remarkable images of the fortress, churches, synagogue, and mosque illuminate the living fabric of the ancient and medieval stones, while the text describes the history of Old Cairo from the time of the ancient Egyptians and the Romans to the founding of the first Muslim city of al-Fustat, focusing on the Jewish history of the area (exploring the famous Genizah documents found in the Ben Ezra Synagogue that tell so much about everyday life in medieval Egypt), the early Coptic Christian churches, some of the oldest in the world, and the arrival of the Muslims in the seventh century, their establishment of al-Fustat on the edge of Old Cairo, and the building of the oldest mosque in Africa....read more
18 September 2016
370 color illus.