Aga Khan Documentation Center receives noted scholar’s archive
By Sharon Smith. July 6, 2015: Yasser Tabbaa, a prominent scholar in Islamic art and architecture, has donated his archive to AKDC@MIT.
Dr. Tabbaa has taught at several prestigious US universities, including MIT, The University of Michigan, and Oberlin College. Internationally, Dr. Tabbaa taught on the faculty of New York University Abu Dhabi; served as Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Design at the University of Jordan; and Deputy Headmaster and Dean of the Faculty at King’s Academy in Amman, Jordan.
Dr. Tabbaa has authored books and articles on Islamic architecture, ornament, and calligraphy, including Constructions of Power and Piety in Medieval Aleppo (Penn State Press, 1997) and The Transformation of Islamic Art during the Sunni Revival (U. Washington Press, 2001). His most recent book is Najaf: The Gate of Wisdom (UNESCO, 2014), and he is currently directing a similar project on the city and monuments of Samarra and preparing a book on Shiʿi shrine architecture.
Particularly pertinent to events of today, Dr. Tabbaa’s collection documents many of the monuments damaged or destroyed in recent conflicts, including those in Iraq and Syria. His images and notes will be used in the continuing effort of AKDC to substantiate and record the loss of cultural heritage throughout the region.
Dr. Tabbaa’s archive, comprised of slides, prints, field notes, and more, will not only enhance AKDC’s archival holdings, but — in conjunction with other recent scholarly archival donations — provides a unique opportunity for students and scholars to examine the historiography of the field as it developed in the late 20th century.
Emergency Safeguarding of the Syrian Cultural Heritage: International and Syrian experts meet in Beirut to discuss inventories and archives
“We are open to partnerships with non-profit organizations from all over the world,” said Sharon Smith, from the Agha Khan Documentation Center at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She added that the Agha Khan Foundation has a long tradition of working with visual culture from Syria and stresses the need of increasing collaboration to preserve heritage at this critical moment of Syrian history.
Aga Khan Documentation Center and Center for Arabic Culture present “Desert Flower”
desert-flower_largerJoin us for a screening of the film Desert Flower with guest speaker Deina Abdulkader, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. Desert Flower is the autobiography of a Somalian nomad who was circumcised at 3, sold into marriage at 13, fled from Africa a while later to become finally an American supermodel, and is now, at the age of 38, the UN spokeswoman against female genital mutilation (FGM).
Date: Friday, October 21
Location: Center for Arabic Culture, 191 Highland Ave Suite 6B, Somerville
Marilyn Jenkins-Madina donates collection to the Aga Khan Documentation Center
Gift includes images from important sites and collections throughout Middle East and North Africa
Marilyn Jenkins-Madina, PhD, curator emerita, Department of Islamic Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, has donated her research collection to AKDC@MIT. Her gift includes ca. 4,250 35mm slides, along with some born digital images, from important sites and collections throughout the Middle East and North Africa, including but not limited to: Algeria, Egypt, Yemen, and Iran. Many of the sites she documented have now been lost to time, natural disaster, or war and can only be studied through scholars’ collections such as this.
Jenkins-Madina began her long curatorial career at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in 1964. Having received her B.A. from Brown University in 1962, she continued to pursue her education while working at the Metropolitan Museum, earning both her M.A. and Ph.D. during this time. From her initial appointment as curatorial assistant, she rose through the ranks during her 40-year tenure as curator in the Department of Islamic Art and was named curator emerita upon her retirement in 2004.
Marilyn Jenkins-Madina’s work includes the critical revision and expansion of those sections dealing with the decorative arts and the arts of the book in the second edition, published in 2001, of the preeminent text, Islamic Art and Architecture: 650-1250. These sections in the first edition, published in 1987, had initially been written by her mentor and long-term colleague, Richard Ettinghausen. In 2006, she published Raqqa Revisited: Ceramics of Ayyubid Syria, an important study using art historical detective work, archival documents, and scientific data to place these objects in a secure historical context for the first time.
In addition to the permanent and temporary exhibitions Jenkins-Madina helped to mount and publish at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, she was also very actively engaged throughout her long career in helping various countries in the Near and Middle East to present their own material from the Islamic world. The largest such undertaking was serving as the project director for the creation and installation of Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyya in Kuwait, which opened to great acclaim in 1983. She remains an active participant in her field.
Portions of her collection will be digitized and openly available via AKDC’s dissemination resource, Archnet. Students, scholars, and researchers may view Marilyn Jenkins-Madina’s collection in the Center during normal business hours.
Included with Jenkins-Madina’s generous gift was a smaller collection of papers, business records, and images given to her by her friend, Adrienne Minassian. Minassian (1913-1994) worked with her father, Kirkor Minassian (1874-1944), as an art dealer specializing in Islamic and Near-East art in New York and Paris. Although the family gallery in New York closed in 1923, Minassian, and his daughter Adrienne after him, continued as dealers as well as personal art collectors. This collection will not be available on Archnet; however the finding aid will be on our lib guide and researchers are welcome in the Center to examine the materials.
This collection contains two series of CAD drawings documenting approximately 200 monuments of Islamic architecture. Showcased here in JPG format, these drawings are associated to their respective monuments and presented here as a complete collection; another unique and important resource on Archnet. The drawings are also available in their native .dwg format, in the "CAD drawing (.dwg) files" subcollection also found here.
The first series of drawings was created in 2002-2003, when Professor Nasser Rabbat, Aga Khan Professor of Islamic Architecture, Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, commissioned Saeed Arida (then a SMArch student) to produce a series of CAD drawings of a select group of monuments of Islamic architecture as a means to help facilitate his lectures and as a service to Archnet users. The second series of drawings was drafted by Arben N. Arapi for the 2005 publication The Age of Sinan: Architectural Culture in the Ottoman Empire, 1539-1588, written by Gülru Necipoğlu, Aga Khan Professor of Islamic Art, Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture, Harvard University.
Jodidio, Philip, editor. Heritage of the Mughal World. Munich: Prestel, 2015.
Description From 1526-1857 the Mughal Empire embodied an extended period of peace, prosperity and artistic achievement in the Indian subcontinent. Highlighting valuable conservation and restoration projects carried out by the Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, this illustrated book, with texts written by noted specialists in each field, explores the cities, buildings and gardens that flourished during the Mughals' three-century rule.
Heritage of the Mughal World (Philip Jodidio, editor)
A set of four volumes of studies by Oleg Grabar that bring together more than eighty articles, studies and essays, work spanning half a century. Reflecting the many incidents of a long academic life, these volumes illustrate one scholar's attempt at making order and sense of 1400 years of artistic growth. They deal with architecture, painting, objects, iconography, theories of art, aesthetics and ornament, and they seek to integrate our knowledge of Islamic art with Islamic culture and history as well as with the global concerns of the history of art. In addition to the articles selected, each volume contains an introduction which describes the context in which Grabar's scholarship developed and the people who directed and mentored his efforts. (Ashgate)
The Aga Khan Documentation Center at MIT has released its prototype of Layer Cake, a 3-axes mapping tool that enables users to build maps layering narrative, time, and space simultaneously. Envisioned by AKDC Program Head Sharon C. Smith, Ph.D. the tool has become a reality thanks to the programming expertise of James Yamada (Master’s in Design Studies, Harvard GSD).
In 1227/625 AH, the thirty-seventh Abbasid Caliph al-Mustansir Billah (r. 1226-1242) commissioned the construction of al-Madrasa al-Mustansiriyya, a theological school in the capital city of Baghdad named in his honor. Construction lasted for six years and the school opened in 1234/631 AH. In addition to being one of the oldest madrasas that still stands, the Mustansiriyya is doubly significant as the earliest example of a universal madrasa: that is, a theological institution in which all four madhabs (rites) of orthodox Islamic law were taught.1
Although descriptions contemporary to the foundation of the school do not exist, later medieval descriptions suggest that the complex originally comprised the theological school, a library, a hospital, and a pharmacy. The library may have been ravaged during the Mongol raid and occupation of Baghdad. We know that the building eventually fell out of use as a school and became something of a caravansaray
Approximately 12,357 records were published in Archnet between January 1 and December 31, 2017, increasing the total number of records by approximately 10%.
While much of the new material expands existing collections, new collections added in 2017 include sketchbooks and other items form from the archive of architect and designer Ali Tayar, the Isfahan Urban History Project undertaken by Lisa Golombek, Renata Holod and Claus Breede between 1974 and 1976, and photographs from the scholarly archives of Marilyn Jenkins-Madina, Curator Emerita, Department of Islamic Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Yasser Tabbaa, a prominent scholar in Islamic art and architecture, and Daniel C. Waugh, Professor Emeritus at University of Washington. Also new in 2017, is a collection of photographs documenting the restoration of the Byzantine Red Monastery Church in Egypt.
A new Archnet exhibition highlights the interior of the Church of Saints Bishai and Bigol in the Sohag Province of Egypt. Perhaps better known as the Church of the Red Monastery because of the red brick walls used in the construction of the monastery, the church was established in the 4th c. as a center of the large monastic community in Upper Egypt. It is remarkable for the vividly colored paintings covering about eighty percent of the the interior.
The photographs in this exhibition show the interior after a decade-long restoration effort of the American Research Center in Egypt. The collection also contains an introductory essay by Elizabeth Bolman, Director of the Restoration project. The photographs are by Arnaldo Vescovo, known for his archeological and architectural photographs. His work has previously been featured in the Archnet exhibition Archeological Tunisia.
A new Archnet collection, The Islamic Heritage of Bangladesh, documents the architecture of 33 historic sites with detailed descriptions, photographs and, in some cases, drawings.
The collection was developed by Dr. Mohammad Habib Reza, Assistant Professor, in the Department of Architecture at BRAC University in Bangladesh. The project was a collaboration between BRAC University, Archnet, and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.
Thousands of new records have been published on Archnet since May 1. See examples on this page.
Built in the first half of the ninth century, the No Gumbad Mosque to the southwest of Balkh is one of the oldest known monuments of Islam. Its modern name, No Gumbad, refers to the nine vaults or domes that covered the original structure. These domes have since fallen, and the walls and columns of the mosque are buried in a more than a meter of mud-brick fragments. With one of its two remaining archways in danger of collapse, the structure is in urgent need of stabilization and restoration.
The mosque is aligned with qibla on the northeast-southwest axis and measures twenty-meters per side on the exterior. Inside, the prayer hall is divided into nine bays -- three rows and three aisles -- with triple archways. The arches rest on four thick columns at center and pairs of columns (single at the corners) that are embedded into the southeast, southwest and northwest walls. The northeast wall opposite qibla opens to the exterior with a triple arcade
Video: The mysterious, ancient Nine Domes Mosque of Afghanistan
In the white dusty plains of northern Afghanistan, archaeologists are seeking to unravel the secrets of one of the oldest mosques in the world, whose structure is still standing after a thousand years of solitude.
The mysterious, ancient Nine Domes Mosque of northern Afghanistan
“This is a window open to the ancient period, here we can find the base of the next culture to come,” said Arash Boostani, an Iranian architect and engineer from the University of Tehran, who was commissioned by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) to work on the site.
The Haji Piyada Mosque was built in the second half of the ninth century, only two centuries after the establishment of Islam and immediately following its arrival in Central Asia. Located in northern Afghanistan, the mosque measures 65 by 65 feet (20 by 20 meters), a modest but architecturally rich religious structure. The mosque derives its alternate name, Noh Gumbad, from the nine cupolas that once covered it. These brick domes collapsed due to aging materials. Only one of the arches that held them still stands. The stucco ornamentation that remains etched into the arch and piers is a union of motifs of the Samanid and Abbasid styles. Haji Piyada was rediscovered in the 1960s and though cursory research was conducted in the early 1970s, very little has been done in the past few decades because of civil unrest in Afghanistan. The site holds extraordinary potential for archaeological and architectural investigation but has been made vulnerable by looting, erosion, and lack of proper maintenance.
Aga Khan Documentation Center at MIT wins the Mohamed Makiya Prize for Architecture
Tamayouz Excellence Award is delighted to announce the winner of the 2018 Middle Eastern Architectural Personality of the year, given to individuals and organisations, the Mohamed Makiya Prize for architecture.
The Mohamed Makiya Prize was established as part of the Tamayouz Excellence Award programme, which aims to champion the best architecture worldwide, it is an annual prize open to both individuals and organisations who promoted, encouraged, campaigned or influenced directly or indirectly the advancement of architecture and the built environment in the Middle East between 2015 and 2017.
Out of 44 entries from 11 countries were submitted for this year’s prize, four have been shortlisted and they are The Aga Khan Documentation Center - MIT (Massachusetts), the Arab Center for Architecture (Beirut), Michael Rakowitz (New York) and Rana Beiruti (Amman).
The Pedagogy Project: Resources for Teaching and Learning
The purpose of the Archnet Pedagogy Collection is to make well-crafted and practical resources publicly available for those teaching the subject of Islamic art and architecture. The collection provides useful aids in a variety of media that can assist instructors in how they might approach and understand this diverse and prodigious subject matter and its extensive historiography in order to teach it more effectively. Sourced predominantly from the vast Archnet website, which contains both image and textual sources in a single location, the collection includes both prepared lectures as well as the ability for individuals to create their own using the ‘thumbnail bar’ feature. The prepared lectures are available for download as PowerPoint files and can be easily tailored to meet an instructor’s specific needs. The ultimate goal of the Pedagogy Collection is to facilitate and enhance the teaching of art and architecture produced by predominantly Muslim societies by showcasing the rich possibilities of Archnet.
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