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Distributed for Hirmer Publishers

Siculo-Arabic Ivories and Islamic Painting


The brilliantly painted ivory boxes from twelfth-century Norman Sicily have long been regarded as some of the most extraordinary artifacts recovered there. Evidence of the rich and multilayered culture, these small but distinctly exotic boxes also demonstrate the Normans’ fascination with Islamic culture and art. Yet despite their undeniable historical importance, the last comprehensive examination of the Sicilian ivories was published in 1939.
Siculo-Arabic Ivories and Islamic Painting: 1100–1300 is the first book-length treatment devoted exclusively to the ornate ivory boxes in more than seventy years. Among the many contributors to this volume are Marianne Barrucand, Anthony Cutler, Thomas Dittelbach, Maria Vittoria Fontana, Eva Hoffman, Mat Immerzeel, David Knipp, Martina Müller-Wiener, and Mourad Rammah.

340 pages | 45 color plates, 227 halftones | 9 1/2 x 11 2/5 | © 2011

Art: Middle Eastern, African, and Asian Art

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“A beautifully edited and fully illustrated publication. . . . This kind of object of material culture can easily fall between the gaps in academic scholarship because it fails to slot neatly into traditional art-historical classifications. . . . David Knipp rightly points out in his introduction that the term ’Siculo-Arabic ivories’ is a misleading one. It suggests that this is a straightforward group of painted and gilded ivory containers made in Sicily by Muslim craftsmen. The papers in the volume reveal a much more complicated story.”

Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies

Table of Contents

Ivory Painting in the Norman Kingdom of Sicily: An Introduction
      David Knipp

I. Manufacture, Perception, and Distribution
How and for Whom They Made the Boxes
      Anthony Cutler
Hidden Aesthetics and the Art of Deception: The Object, the Beholder, and the Artisan
      Avinoam Shalem
Incrusted with Ivory: Observations on a Casket in the Victoria and Albert Museum
      Mariam Rosser-Owen
The St Petroc Casket, a Certain Mutilated Man, and the Trade in Ivories
      Antony Eastmond
Translation in Ivory: Interactions Across Cultures and Media in the Mediterranean during the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries
      Eva R. Hoffman
II. Iconography, Artistic Heritage, and Workshop Identity
Hunting with Cheetahs on Painted Siculo-Arabic Ivories
      Maria Vittoria Fontana
The Painted Ivory Box Made for the Fatimid Caliph al-Mu’izz
      Jonathan M. Bloom
Siculo-Arabic Ivories: Christian Motifs in Muslim Painting
      Erica Cruikshank Dodd
Ceiling and Casket at the Cappella Palatina and Christian Arab Art between Sicily and Egypt in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries
      Lucy-Anne Hunt
Pattern and Ornament in Siculo-Arabic Ivory Painting: The Track Leads to the Norman Principality of Antioch
      David Knipp
A Mixed Company of Syrians, Saracens and Greeks: Artistic Interaction in Middle Eastern Christian Art in the Middle Ages
      Mat Immerzeel, Adeline Jeudy, Bas Snelders
III. Parallel Currents in Islamic Art
A Ghaznavid Narrative Relief and the Problem of Pre-Mongol Persian Book Painting
      Finbarr Barry Flood
Puns and Puzzles: The Interplay of the Visual and the Verbal in Thirteenth-Century Mesopotamian Metalwork, Book Painting, and Astrolabes
      Martina Müller-Wiener
The Marble Casket in the Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin: Sources, Function, and Iconology
      Thomas Dittelbach

Descriptive Catalogue of Siculo-Arabic Ivories Exhibited in Berlin, Museum für Islamische Kunst, July–August 2007
      David Knipp

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