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Metalwork from the Arab World and the Mediterranean (The al-Sabah Collection)

Doris Behrens-Abouseif


The latest book in the series on the treasures of The al-Sabah Collection, Kuwait


This volume presents vessels, fittings and other objects made in Syria, Egypt, Iraq and Yemen from the early Islamic period through to the end of the Ottoman era in the 19th century. The pieces include exquisite platters, serving-vessels, candlesticks and pen-boxes produced for royal courts, but also many beautifully decorated bronze domestic items, such as bowls, lunch-boxes, door-knockers, buckets and lamps.

The metalwork traditions in this book reflect the complex history of the Arab world following the advent of Islam. The collection starts in the Late Antique period, which informed the early Islamic royal styles of the Umayyad, Abbasid and Fatimid dynasties, and goes on to trace the emergence of Mosul as a centre for metalwork in the 12th–13th centuries; the courtly Mamluk style during the Bahri period (1250–1380s); the Circassian era (1380s–1517); the growth of the European export market from the 15th century; distinctive vernacular styles in Yemen during the 14th–16th centuries; and the many revivals and fusions of international styles over six centuries of Ottoman rule (1517–1900s). Finally, an enigmatic group of zoomorphic fittings that defies easy dating is celebrated for the craftsmanship and charm of its animal figures.

This beautifully illustrated volume features many important unpublished pieces and is essential reading for specialists, but it will fascinate and inform anyone with an interest in Islamic culture and history, metalwork and the decorative arts of the Arab world.

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'Outstanding … a valuable addition to the literature on Islamic art'
Asia – Art – Culture

Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 27.6 x 21.9 cm

Extent: 340 pp

Publication date: 2 December 2021

ISBN: 9780500971116

Contents List

Foreword by Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah • Acknowledgements • 1. The Legacy of Late Antiquity (4th to 8th centuries • 2. Before Mosul: Metalwork in the Mediterranean World (7th to 12th centuries) • 3. The Rise of Nobility in Metalware (12th to 13th centuries) • 4. The Formation of a Mamluk Style in the Bahri Period (1250-1380s): The Transitional Style; The Epigraphic Style; Engraved Vessels • 5. The Predominance of Engraving in the Circassian Era (1380s-1517): Continuity and New Production; Late Mamluk Refinement • 6. The Export Style (late 15th to early 16th century): The Arabesque Group of Export Ware; The Knot-Work Group of Export Ware • 7. Metalwork from Yemen (14th to 16th centuries) • 8. Post-Mamluk, Neo-Mamluk and Ottoman Metalware (1517-1900s): Post-Mamluk and Neo-Mamluk Wares; Ottoman and Ottoman Fusion • 9. Zoomorphic Finials and Fittings

About the Author

Doris Behrens-Abouseif is Professor Emerita at SOAS, University of London, and previously Nasser D. Khalili Chair of Islamic Art and Archaeology at SOAS. Her many publications encompass a wide range of subjects of socio-cultural and art historical interest with a focus on Egypt and Syria from Late Antiquity and the early Islamic period to the 19th century, covering architecture, urbanism, material culture and the decorative arts.