Art of the Sultan: Books on Islamic Art throughout the ages

In recent years Yale University Press has published an increasing number of books on Asian art, making a name for itself as the premier publisher of Islamic art throughout the ages. Today we look at an exciting and important new book being published next year, as well as three new titles that examine Islamic art from different perspectives.

A page from The Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp

A page from The Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp

Early next year Yale University Press will be publishing Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp, one of the most voluminous epics of world literature ever created. The Shahnama (or “Book of Kings”) narrates the history of the ancient kings of Iran, from their mythical beginnings to the Arab conquest in 651 A.D. Although illustrated copies of the poem were commissioned by numerous Iranian kings, the Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp (reigned 1524-1576) is arguably the most important and beautifully-illustrated version ever produced. Characterized by calligraphy, painting, and illuminations of exquisite quality and artistic originality, the volume is considered one of the highest achievements in the arts of the book. After its creation, the Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp travelled through several royal collections until it was broken up and dispersed in the 20th century. For the first time, all 258 illuminated pages of this famous volume will be reproduced in colour and close to their original size in this sumptuous publication.

This massive achievement will be incredibly exciting news for anyone interested in both Islamic art and art history in general. Available in both leatherbound and hardback editions, this is sure to be a significant event in publishing when it is made available in January 2012. Until then, take a look at a selection of current books on Islamic art…

Wonder, Image and CosmosWonder, Image, and Cosmos in Medieval Islam
Persis Berlekamp

This original book untangles fundamental confusions about historical relationships among Islam, representational images, and philosophy. Closely examining some of the most meaningful and best preserved premodern illustrated manuscripts of Islamic cosmographies, Persis Berlekamp refutes the assertion often made by other historians of medieval Islamic art that, while representational images did exist, they did not serve religious purposes. The author focuses on widely disseminated Islamic images of the wonders of creation, ranging from angels to human-snatching birds, and argues that these illustrated manuscripts aimed to induce wonder at God’s creation, as was their stated purpose. She tracks the various ways that images advanced that purpose in the genre’s formative milieu – the century and a half following the Mongol conquest of the Islamic East in 1258. Delving into social history and into philosophical ideas relevant to manuscript and image production, Berlekamp shows that philosophy occupied an established, if controversial, position within Islam. She thereby radically reframes representational images within the history of Islam. More

Page spreads from Wonder, Image, and Cosmos in Medieval Islam

Page spreads from Wonder, Image, and Cosmos in Medieval Islam

Art of the Sultan

Gifts of the Sultan: The Arts of Giving at the Islamic Courts
Linda Komaroff

The giving of gifts both delights the recipient and pleases the giver. Practised in all societies, gift exchange has a history as long as humanity. This gloriously illustrated catalogue is the first investigation of gift-giving and its impact on the development of art in the Islamic world. Presenting some 240 rare and costly works of art associated with gift exchanges among the courts of Islam, Byzantium, western Europe, and eastern Asia, the book provides a wide-ranging view of Islamic art and culture from the eighth through the nineteenth centuries. At courts across the Islamic world, gift-giving often served as a nexus of art and diplomacy, religion, and interpersonal relations. The book examines the complex interplay between artistic production and gift-based patronage through numerous examples of deluxe, aesthetically pleasing objects either commissioned or repurposed as gifts. Tracing the unique histories of selected artworks, the book also explores how the exchange of luxury objects played a central role in the circulation, emulation, and assimilation of artistic forms within and beyond the Islamic world. More

Page spreads from Gifts of the Sultan

Page spreads from Gifts of the Sultan

And Diverse are Their HuesAnd Diverse are Their Hues: Color in Islamic Art and Culture
Jonathan M. Bloom, Professor Sheila S. Blair

The Koran uses the phrase ‘and diverse are their hues’ to describe the glorious chromatic variety of God’s creation. Colour has always been an important signifier in Islamic art, and its uses have encompassed the practical as well as the mystical and poetic. This comprehensive volume is the first to analyze the use of colour in Islamic art and architecture from a range of artistic and cultural perspectives. A prestigious team of international scholars discusses the applications and implications of colour in Islamic cultures from medieval to modern times and from Central Asia to Spain and beyond. They look at art, architecture, literature, philosophy, mysticism, optics, and conservation studies. Amply and vividly illustrated, “And Diverse Are Their Hues” is also a remarkable visual resource for Islamic carpets, ceramic tiles, manuscripts, gardens, and buildings. More

Page spreads from 'And Diverse are Their Hues'

Page spreads from 'And Diverse are Their Hues'

Related Blogs / Links

Recently Discovered Masterpiece of Islamic Art to Go on View at the Pergamon Museum

BBC Religions: Islamic Art

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