The Transformation of Islamic Art during the Sunni Revival
These innovations developed and were disseminated in a highly charged atmosphere of confrontation between the Seljuk and post-Seljuk proponents of the traditionalist Sunni revival and their main opponents in Fatimid Egypt. These forms stood as visual signs of allegiance to the orthodox Abbasid caliphate and of difference from the heterodox Fatimids. Tabbaa proposes that their rapid spread throughout the Islamic world operated within a system of reciprocating, ceremonial gestures, which conveyed a new and formal language that helped negotiate the gap between the myth of a unified Sunni Islam and its actual political fragmentation.
In subject matter and approach, The Transformation of Islamic Art during the Sunni Revival makes original contributions to the study of art, revealing that this relatively neglected sector of medieval art and architecture is of critical importance for reevaluating the entire field of Islamic studies. It challenges the essentialist and positivist approaches that still permeate the study of Islamic art, and offers a historical and semiotic alternative for exploring meaning within ruptures of change.
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"[This volume] provides a detailed description of calligraphical, ornamental, and architectural developments during this period. It also establishes concrete links between the transformations in form and meaning experienced by these art forms and the contemporaneous political and religious rivalries."—American Journal of Islamist Social Sciences
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