Islamic Arts and Crafts: An Anthology


Islamic Arts and Crafts: An Anthology


By Marcus Milwright

Publisher: Edinburgh University Press (21 Feb. 2017)

A primary sourcebook for the study of traditional art and craft practices of the Islamic world

Islamic art is justly famed for its technological sophistication, varied approaches to ornament, and innovative employment of the written word. But what do we know about the skilled artisans who spent their lives designing and creating the paintings, objects and buildings that are so admired today?

This anthology of written sources (dating from the seventh to the twentieth centuries) explores numerous aspects of the crafts of the Middle East from the processing of raw materials to the manufacture of finished artefacts. You will learn about: the legal and ethical dimensions of the arts and crafts, the organization of labor in urban and rural contexts, the everyday lives of artisans, the gendered dimensions of making things, and the impact of industrialization upon traditional methods of manufacture. Each chapter begins with an introduction providing a wider context for the primary sources. There are also suggestions for further reading.

Key Features:

  • Provides a clearly structured means to study descriptions of techniques employed in the arts and crafts and of the lives of artisans (male and female) in the Islamic world from the seventh to the twentieth centuries
  • The primary sources address the interests of students in a wide range of disciplines, including art history, archaeology, anthropology, and ethnography
  • New translations are presented of significant primary accounts written in Arabic, German, and French
  • Illustrated with maps, plans and images of Islamic arts and crafts

About the Author

Marcus Milwright is Professor of Islamic Art and Archaeology in the Department of Art History and Visual Studies at the University of Victoria, B.C., Canada. He is the author of The Fortress of the Raven: Karak in the Middle Islamic Period (2008), An Introduction to Islamic Archaeology (EUP, 2010) and The Dome of the Rock and it Umayyad Mosaic Inscriptions (EUP, 2016).

Table of Contents:

  • Part 1: Foundations

1. Theoretical Formulations

  • Part 2: Human Dimensions

2. The Organisation of Labour

3. Rituals, Songs and Poems

4. Biographical Information

5. The Lives of Artisans and Artists

  • Part 3: Resources

6. Raw Materials

I: minerals

7. Raw Materials

II: plants

8. Raw Materials

III: animals

9. Mining and Metal Preparation

10. City Descriptions

  • Part 4: Inorganic Media

11. Copper

12. Iron and Steel

13. Other Metals: Gold, Silver and Tin

14. Pottery

15. Glass

  • Part 5: Organic Media

16. Wood

17. Basketry and Matting

18. Leather

19. Spinning, Bleaching and Dyeing

20. Weaving

21. Rugs, Carpets and Felt

  • Part 6: Writing and Painting

22. Papyrus and Paper

23. Calligraphy

24. Painting

  • Part 7: Architecture and Engineering

25. Building Techniques

26. Vaulting and Architectural Decoration

27. Engineering

  • Part 8: Economic Considerations

28. Recycling and Repair

29. Crafts in an Age of Competition and Change


– “Marcus Milwright’s comprehensive book brings a welcome renewed focus on diverse artisans, techniques, and materials of Islamic arts. Scholars and students alike will benefit from the thoughtful introductory essays and a rich array of primary sources representing a vast chronological and geographic scope, which illuminates key issues in the field today.” (Glaire D. Anderson, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

Source: Edinburgh University Press

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