"INSCRIBED IDENTITIES : CALLIGRAPHIC AND EPIGRAPHIC TRADITIONS OF THE MAGHRIB"
Umberto Bongianino, University of Oxford
Part of the Silsila spring 2020 Lecture Series, Maghrib: Arts of the Islamic West
Among the many cultural specificities of the Islamic West, the development of distinct calligraphic forms and epigraphic modes is one of the most striking and yet less studied cases. From the cemeteries of Tunis to the royal chancery of Marrakesh, from the libraries of Valencia to the madrasas and shrines of Fes, this lecture will consider how the aesthetic qualities of both manuscripts and inscribed artefacts mattered just as much as their content in the propagation of certain intellectual and ideological principles peculiar to the social context of these cities. Particularly fascinating is the sense of a distinct 'Maghribi identity' that emanates from these books, objects, and buildings, carrying texts which were carefully designed to express local doctrinal views and political ideals, yet in constant conversation with the visual culture of the wider Islamic world.
Umberto Bongianino is Departmental Lecturer in Islamic Art and Architecture at the Khalili Research Centre, University of Oxford. He is principally interested in the architecture and material culture of the Islamic dynasties that ruled across the medieval Mediterranean between the 9th and the 13th centuries. His studies have focused on a number of topics, including the Islamic components of Norman Sicilian art, ceramic production and trade in Fatimid Egypt and Syria, Fatimid architecture and archaeology in Cairo, Tunisia, and Libya (Ajdabiya), Arabic epigraphy and palaeography in the Medieval Maghrib and al-Andalus.
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