Egypt Medieval Arts

By | January 3, 2022

North African region, corresponding to the territory of the od. Arab Rep. Of Egypt, bounded to the South by the first cataract of the Nile and to the West by the Libyan desert; in ancient age the Egypt also included Nubia, which extended towards the S as far as the second cataract of the Nile. In 30 BC it became a Roman province governed by a prefect, Egypt it was divided by Diocletian (284-305) into three provinces and incorporated into the diocese of the East, whose prefect resided in Antioch. Under Constantine the Great (306-337) freedom of worship was recognized for Christians, already present in Egypt from the apostolic period. Alexandria (v.) Was the most important center of Egypt Christian especially under Theodosius I (379-395), who closed all pagan temples in 389. In 451 the patriarch Dioscoro converted Egypt to monophysitism, placing itself in sharp contrast with the Byzantine court and founding the Coptic church, which soon acquired the characteristics of a national church in antagonism with Constantinople (see Copts). Before the Islamic invasion the region experienced a brief period of Sassanid domination (617-628), followed by a temporary and partial Byzantine reoccupation. The Arab conquest of Egypt, by ῾Amr ibn al-῾Āṣ, took place under the caliph ῾Umar, in 21 aE / 641, and culminated the following year with the foundation of al-Fusṭāṭ, the first nucleus of the future Cairo (v.), destined to assume, from the century. 10th onwards, a leading position in the historical, artistic and cultural panorama of the Islamic world. During the Abbasid Caliphate (v.), The governor Aḥmad ibn Ṭūlūn took over the city, then enlarging it with the construction of the vast neighborhood of al-Qaṭa῾i, where in 876 the construction of the great mosque that bears his name began, although with the subsequent conquests of the Fatimids (v.), the Ayyubids (v.) and especially of the Mamelukes (v.) the Egypt equaled and then supplanted the political importance of Iraq, already the center of the Abbasid empire, most of its most significant monuments are concentrated above all in Alexandria and Cairo, given the poverty of the economic and cultural life of the rest of the country. Only in the Ottoman era were various smaller centers equipped with sacred and profane monuments of some importance.

In Lower Egypt, however, Damietta (al-Dimyāṭ), conquered by a commander of ῾Amr ibn al-῾Āṣ, became a port city of some importance, subjected to several naval attacks by the Byzantines first and then by the Crusaders, until a powerful fortress was built there by order of the Abbasid caliph al-Mutawakkil (853).At the end of the Fatimid dynasty and under the Ayyubids, Damietta was in the center of conflicts with the Franks: Amalric I of Jerusalem besieged it for a long time, before being repulsed in December 1169 by the forces of Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn al-Ayyūbī, then vizier of Egypt. The Abu’l-Ma’atī mosque probably dates back to this period, now in ruins in a northern suburb of the modern city, of which several ancient columns and some Kufic inscriptions are preserved. Some small mosques of Rosetta (al-Rashīd) can perhaps be traced back to the Mamluk era, while the Qayt Bay mosque in Medīnat al-Fayyūm certainly dates back to that period, the most important center of the area. For Egypt 2015, please check

In the Upper Egypt, only Aswan retains significant parts of the walls, dating back perhaps to the time of the first Arab conquest, and the ancient cemetery, full of tombs of the characteristic type, with numerous stelae. In Asyūṭ, the main center of the area, and in other places of lesser importance today, but famous in the Pharaonic era, such as Luxor, Esnā, al-Shallāl and Qūṣ, the Islamic testimonies are of irrelevant architectural value. headquarters of important textile industries, which prospered between the secc. 11th and 13th; in Damietta they fell into ruin when the Bahrite Mamluks decided to put an end to the military role of the city, demolishing its walls in 1250-1251, and then in 1260-1261, when Baybars I blocked the passage of boats to the sea. Since, even under the Ottomans, Damietta served as a place reserved for exiles. Among the most famous productions of the city we remember the so-called veil of s. Anna, a thin linen fabric, woven with three bands of silk and gold, decorated with circular medallions with pairs of backed sphinxes, theories of animals and birds and epigraphic friezes; produced around 1096-1097, at the time of the caliph al-Musta’lī, the fabric was brought to the cathedral of Sainte-Anne in Apt (France) by the lord and bishop of the town who had participated in the first crusade. of production of fabrics were Alexandria, Tinnis, famous above all for the white linen, Tuna, at the od. Port Said, Dabīq, Asmūnayn and Behnasā; the decoration is often made up of animals or characters facing the sides of a tree or a flowery cup. In numerous burials of Akhmīm (v.), fabrics characterized by a marked resemblance to Hellenistic prototypes, perhaps mediated by Coptic influence, have been found; in fact, immediately after the conquest of Egypt the Christian community also often worked for Muslim clients and in its artifacts there are recognizable cues taken from the Greek and Roman world. Probably a famous silk shamite fabric (Paris, Mus. Nat. du Moyen Age, can be traced back to Egyptian or Syriac production, Thermes de Cluny), decorated in ivory color on a blue background, with roundels enclosing two amazons hunted for lions, which has characters of clear Sassanid derivation in the fluttering ribbons on the shoulders of the huntresses, in the specular arrangement of the figures and in some iconographic details. In addition to silk, in the Fatimid period, the fabrics were also woven with gold threads, which increased their thickness and sumptuousness. In the secc. 11th and 12th the production of ṭīrāz was notable, the strips of fabric containing the text of the basmala (‘blessing’), followed by a auspicious formula for the sovereign, in addition to the date, denomination and place of production of the artifact. These strips were applied to the clothes at arm level, as documented by the reproductions of clothes in the miniatures, on ceramics and on metals.

The name ṭīrāz was also attributed to the state workshops where the fabrics were produced, choosing the different materials, designs and motifs that were to decorate them. Al-Fayyūm also gave its name to a particular type of pottery, dating back to the 13th century. 10th-11th, of which some fragments have also been found in al-Fusṭāṭ; these are artifacts decorated with geometric and sometimes epigraphic motifs, painted in bright colors (white, yellow / ocher, green of various shades, manganese / violet) spread under an opaque lead glazing, whose main feature is given by the desired effect of showy drips of colors, sometimes arranged in alternating vertical bands.

Egypt Medieval Arts