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Institute for the Study of the Ancient World

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03/15/2018 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

Beauty Can be Dangerous to Your Health

George Saliba

The talk will address the circumstances under which beautifully illustrated manuscripts could become dangerous to your health. While the production of illuminated manuscripts certainly enhanced the beauty – and thus the price of the manuscript – this beauty almost always came at a price. At times this price dangerously involved sacrificing essential part(s) of a text in order to accommodate the illumination. Furthermore beautifully illuminated manuscripts usually involved at least two people: one to copy the text, the other, and more artistically talented one, to produce the illuminations, for it is indeed very rare to find an illuminated manuscript that was produced by one person who could perform both tasks. This cooperative effort was not always risk free either. This to say nothing of manuscripts that were translated from one language to another as was the case with most Greek manuscripts that were translated into Arabic. The talk will demonstrate how some of those intricate problems involved in the very nature of the production of illuminated manuscripts came to impact the final content of the text thus exposing the consumer of the text to real danger. The talk will demonstrate how some of those intricate problems involved in the very nature of the production of illuminated manuscripts came to impact the final content of the text thus exposing the consumer of the text to real danger.
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04/12/2018 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

Alexander to Iskandar

Paintings from Persian and Turkish Manuscripts

Ayşin Yoltar-Yıldırım, Ph.D.

This talk will trace the story of Alexander from the ancient Greek novel, the Alexander Romance, to its Persian and Turkish adaptations. A variety of Islamic literary texts, namely the 11th century Persian Shahnama of Firdawsi, the 12th century Iskandarnama of Nizami, and the 14th century Turkish Iskendername of Ahmedi, will be discussed. Both famous and rarely-known paintings from Islamic manuscripts dating from the 14th to the 17th centuries in various collections, including the Brooklyn Museum, will be featured. This visual journey will touch upon Alexander’s shift from a military hero/invader to a wise ruler and how the image of Alexander adapted to changing political contexts from the Ilkhanid Tabriz in Iran to Ottoman Amasya in Turkey. Even if the historical Alexander couldn’t conquer the entire world, Islamic traditions certainly imagined him as doing so in their development of his legendary persona.
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