Dr. Schreffler’s Blog

  1. aa1carca

    The Digital Munya Project


    During her visit to VCU, Glaire Anderson demonstrated the digital munya project. The munya is a kind of villa complex built in the Islamic world. As she notes on the project’s website,

    “The digital munya project is is an ongoing multidisciplinary effort to visualize this important medieval building type, its landscape setting, and its interior decoration. We are developing a fully navigable 3-D model, which uses a gaming platform to provide scholars and students with a new tool for creative visualization and analysis.

    Our visualization combines elements from two archaeological sites near present-day Córdoba: al-Rummaniyya and the palace city of Madinat al-Zahra’. Our aim is not to provide accurate archaeological reconstructions of either site, but to creatively suggest visual possibilities of vanished munya spaces.”


    For access to the project, see http://digitalmunya.web.unc.edu/





  2. Michael Schreffler

    Al-Andalus at the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha


    Yesterday I visited the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar.

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    The museum, which was designed by the architect I.M Pei, opened in 2008.

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    Among its holdings are a number of objects from Umayyad al-Ándalus. They include a set of nine capitals, most of them from Madinat al Zahra.

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    The collection also includes two zoomorphic bronze fountain spouts dated to the 10th or early-11th century.

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    A dish, which the label identified as probably being from Córdoba, dates to the 10th century and demonstrates the green and purplish/black decoration characteristic of that time and place.

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    An ivory container, described on the label as a pen box, bears inscriptions that date it Dec. 1003-Jan.1004.

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    A wooden beam, dated to the 11th century, is carved with imagery that includes animals and human beings.

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    A blue Qur’an page, said to be from Spain or North Africa, is dated to the 9th or 10th century.

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  3. Michael Schreffler

    Jonathan Bloom on architectural prototypes in Umayyad Cordoba


    Prof. Jonathan Bloom presented a lecture to the students at VCU on Feb. 26, 2013. He is the co-holder, with his wife Sheila Blair, of the Hamad bin Khalifa Chair in Islamic art at VCU, and the author of a number of books on Islamic art, including Arts of the City Victorious: Islamic Art and Architecture in Fatimid North Africa and Egypt, published by Yale University Press in 2008. In his lecture, Prof. Bloom discussed the ways in which the mosque of Córdoba was redesigned in the tenth century “to copy — in medieval terms, of course — the Great Mosque of Damascus that the Umayyad caliphs had built several hundred years before.” In his analysis, Bloom compared this medieval mode of copying to that discussed by the architectural historian Richard Krautheimer in a series of articles on the Carolingian revival of early Christian architecture justcougars.com.


    El Profesor Jonathan Bloom dio una conferencia a los estudiantes de VCU el pasado día 26 de Febrero. Bloom es titular, junto a su esposa Sheila Blair, de la Cátedra Hamad bin Khalifa en arte Islámico en VCU y autor de un importante número de libros sobre arte Islámico, incluyendo Arts of the City Victorious: Islamic Art and Architecture in Fatimid North Africa and Egyptpublicado por Yale University Press en 2008. En su conferencia, el Profesor Bloom habló sobre las diversas formas en que la Mezquita de Córdoba fue rediseñada en el siglo X “para copiar, en términos medievales, por supuesto, la Gran Mezquita de Damasco que los califas Omeyas habían construido varios siglos atrás”. En su análisis, Bloom comparó este modo medieval de copia con el discutido por el historiador de la arquitectura Richard Krautheimer en una serie de artículos sobre la recuperación de la arquitectura cristiana primitiva durante el período Carolingio.



  4. Michael Schreffler

    Glaire Anderson on Concubines, Eunuchs, and Patronage


    On Feb. 5, 2013, the VCU students heard a lecture by Prof. Glaire Anderson and had a chance to talk with her. Prof. Anderson is an Associate Professor in the Art Department at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She is a historian of medieval Islamic architecture and urbanism with a focus on the ninth and tenth centuries in the western Mediterranean. Her lecture was entitled “Concubines, eunuchs, and patronage in Early Islamic Córdoba.” She argued that eunuchs and other unfree elites in  Córdoba were more actively involved in art and architectural design that has been so far acknowledged, and that eunuchs directed architectural projects on behalf of women at the Umayyad court. Among the examples she cited were the royal concubine ‘Ajab, whose villa is one of the first documented instances of artistocratic villa patronage in Córdoba by a patron other then that Umayyad ruler himself; and the eunuch Ja’far, who directed the royal textile workshop and, later, the architecture workshop.


    Anderson, Concubines, Eunuchs, and Patronage


    El 5 de Febrero de 2013 los estudiantes de VCU asistieron a la ponencia de la Profª Dra. Glaire Anderson, con quien tuvieron la oportunidad de hablar posteriormente. La doctora Anderson es profesora asociada en el Departamento de Arte de la Universidad de Carolina del Norte, en la ciudad de Chapel Hill. Es historiadora de la arquitectura y el urbanismo islámicos durante la Edad Media, especializada en los siglos X y XI en la zona del Mediterráneo occidental. Su ponencia se tituló “Concubinas, eunucos y patrocinio en la Córdoba Islámica” y, en ella, la doctora argumentó que los eunucos y otras élites esclavas de Córdoba estuvieron más activamente involucradas en el arte y el diseño arquitectónico de lo que tradicionalmente se ha reconocido, y que los eunucos dirigieron proyectos arquitectónicos en nombre de algunas mujeres de la corte de los Omeyas. Anderson citó, entre otros ejemplos, lo casos de la concubina real Ajab, cuya residencia es uno de los primeros ejemplos documentados de patrocinio residencial aristocrático en Córdoba por un mecenas que no era el califa, y el eunuco Ja’far, que dirigió el taller real de textiles y, posteriormente, el de arquitectura.


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