The arts of the book in the Islamic world
Time: 10:30 - 13:00
Location: KS - Keeley Street
This course takes place in the classroom, please follow this link to find out what we are doing to keep you safe: Staying COVID-19 secure at City Lit
Course Code: VB637
Duration: 2 sessions (over 2 weeks)
What is the course about?
The Kitabkhane or library/workshop and the arts of the book can be considered cornerstones of Islamic visual culture, with the central role of the Qur’an driving the development of the arts in general.
In this one-day course we will study the material and visual aspects of book design and production in the Islamic world, tracing an historical timeline starting from the production of early Qur’ans on vellum, looking at layout, the development of Kufic and Cursive Arabic Calligraphy, the introduction of verse-markers, decorative headings and other aspects of Islamic Illumination, and the impact made on book design by the introduction of paper during the ninth and tenth centuries.
We will explore evolution of distinctive styles under key medieval dynasties, including the introduction of Miniature Painting styles for figurative illustration and the sources that inspired them.
Finally we will look at examples of Persianate Book Design and format in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. We will examine the systemization of their Visual Grammar, some of the techniques by which the books were produced, the management of Libraries and workshops, and some of the aesthetic innovations introduced under principal early-modern dynasties across the Islamic world.
We will go on to look at the development and structure of highly illuminated frontispieces which include Carpet Pages and Shamsa with geometric, vegetal and Arabesque designs. We will also consider decorative Islamic Bindings, and the adaptation of Qur’anic Design to secular books.
What will we cover?
• The impact of Qur’anic design on Islamic visual culture.
• The development of secular book design and illustration.
• The development of Arabic script as an art-form.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
• Discuss the importance of Qur’anic design giving at least 2 examples of its impact on Islamic visual culture.
• List 3 examples of aspects of secular book design in the Islamic or Persianate world.
• Identify three different Arabic scripts.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This course is suitable for all levels.
You should be able to follow simple written and verbal instructions, demonstrations, hand-outs and health and safety information, and will be invited to take part in group discussion.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
You will be taught with slide presentations and group discussions. Handouts will be provided by your tutor to support your learning on the course.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
You might wish to purchase a notebook for taking notes. You might wish to buy some of the books on any reading list provided.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
This focus day can be enjoyed as a stand-alone study day. It can also be attended as an additional enrichment for students attending longer courses on the arts in the Islamic world.
You might also be interested in:
• VB257 - Islamic Art in the medieval world
• VB438 - Arts of the Empire Builders: Timurids, Safavids and Mughals.
• VB708 - The art of the early modern Ottoman Empire 1516–1918.
Anita Chowdry is a London based visual artist, educator and researcher. Her particular interest is in the arts of the Islamic World and South Asia, and the materials and processes that went into them. She has an M.A. in Art and Science from Central Saint Martin’s UAL, and is currently engaged in the codicological study of a group of 15th Century Turcoman manuscripts at the Bodleian Library, Oxford. Anita has over 30 years’ experience teaching art and process to adults and professional groups, covering major institutions in the UK and abroad.
Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.