the art and architecture of islamic cairo
Since Napoleon's invasion of Egypt in 1798, the western traveller has been obsessed with the Pharaohs and Egypt's ancient past. Her Islamic culture has been largely ignored, and the pyramids have been allowed to cast a long shadow over the visual culture of Islamic Cairo, obscuring a magnificent art and architectural heritage that has lasted over a thousand years, from the building of the Mosque of Amr in the 7th century to that of Muhammad Ali in the 19th century. Cairo is full of masterpieces of medieval art and architecture, reflecting the status of Egypt as the center of several significant Muslim empires. This book redresses the cultural balance and examines the art and architectural treasures of Cairo from the Arab to the Ottoman conquests (642-1517). Set within an historical narrative, the stylistic development of the visual arts is explained within changing religious, social, and political contexts. Examples of the decorative artsâ??ceramics, glass, woodwork, metalwork, textiles, and manuscriptsâ??are examined from the Museum of Islamic Art, Cairo, and other major collections in Europe and the USA. Architecture and the decorative arts are dealt with separately with detailed descriptions, illustrating how the story of Islamic art and architecture is one of continuing adaptation and change. By concentrating on Cairo's Islamic art and architecture, the author has created a study of Islamic style which is unprecedented in its historical scope. Fully illustrated with over 200 vivid photographs, plans, and elevations and a comprehensive glossary of architectural terms, this book will be essential reading for architects, designers, historians, and anyone with an appreciation of one of the world's finest and richest architectural legacies, tragically under threat.
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