98908 - History of Islamic Art in the Persian Region, Central Asia, and India (1) (LM)

Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in History and Oriental Studies (cod. 8845)

    Also valid for Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Religions Histories Cultures (cod. 5890)

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, the student acquires a sound knowledge of the main issues related to Islamic art and architecture produced between the Mongol conquest and the modern era. The student is expected to gain the skills to evaluate the connections between social, cultural, and religious aspects and the visual arts in the Islamic world, focusing on the Persian area, Central Asia, and India and their surrounding contexts. The student navigates the history of the studies both in Italian and in English or French language. S/he knows how to illustrate the content of the course in oral and/or written form, with the appropriate terminology, and referring to the related bibliography.

Course contents

The course explores the ar and architecture of the Persian and Indian areas from the late middle ages to 1800 circa. Classes will introduce the innovative artistic techniques and the architectural solutions developed after the Mongol conquest of the Islamic world. Specifically, the course will expose the diffusion of the arts of the book, the adaptations of Islamic art and architecture in China and India and the impact of the increasing interaction of the Islamic world with Europe on the artistic production.  


  1. Introduction and historical background
  2. The representation of living beings in the arts of Islam: objects and texts
  3. Religious architecture and calligraphy: an overview from the beginnings of Islam
  4. The Ilkhanids: mosques and tombs
  5. The Islamic painting: from the origins of the pre-Mongol period to the Kitabkhane of Rab i-Rashidi of Tabriz
  6. Timurid arts of the book: the copies of Book of the Kings and the Book of the Ascension
  7. Timurid art and architecture
  8. Islamic architecture in India: the origins and the Delhi sultanate
  9. Islam in Cina / Chinese objects in the Islamic world
  10. Safavid Isfahan: urbanism and garden architecture  
  11. Safavid art of the book: the "maestri"
  12. The Safavid painting: the European influence
  13. Islamic architecture in India: the Mughal empire
  14. Islamic-Indian painting
  15. Conclusion (and last presentations)

Readings/Bibliography

Bibliography for those attending the course (for each seminar there will speciic readings selected from chapters of the following works):

- Markus Hattstein e Peter Delius (eds.), Islam: Arte e Architettura, Gribaudo, 2007, Capitoli: I mongoli islamizzati: dall'invasione mongola agli Il-khan / Asia centrale: Timuridi, Shaibanidi e khanati / Il subcontinente indiano: dal sultanato a impero moghul / Iran: Safawidi e Qagiar.

- Sheila Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom, The Art and Architecture of Islam, 1250–1800, Yale University Press, 1994. Capitoli: 2-3-4-5-11-12-13-14-18-19.

- Bianca Maria Alfieri, Architettura islamica del subcontinente indiano: India, Pakistan e Bangladesh, Lugano, Arte e Moneta SA, 1994 (Islamic Architecture of the Indian Subcontinent, London, Laurence King, 2000). Pagine: 27-62.

- Norah M. Titley, Persian Miniature Painting, London, The British Library, 1983.

- Ebba Koch, The Complete Taj Mahal and the Riverfront Gardens of Agra, London, Thames & Hudson, 2006.

Bibliography for those NOT attendng the course:

- Markus Hattstein e Peter Delius (eds.), Islam: Arte e Architettura, Gribaudo, 2007, Capitoli: I mongoli islamizzati: dall'invasione mongola agli Il-khan / Asia centrale: Timuridi, Shaibanidi e khanati / Il subcontinente indiano: dal sultanato a impero moghul / Iran: Safawidi e Qagiar.

- Sheila Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom, The Art and Architecture of Islam, 1250–1800, Yale University Press, 1994. Capitoli: 2-3-4-5-11-12-13-14-18-19.

- Bianca Maria Alfieri, Architettura islamica del subcontinente indiano: India, Pakistan e Bangladesh, Lugano, Arte e Moneta SA, 1994 (Islamic Architecture of the Indian Subcontinent, London, Laurence King, 2000). Capitoli: pp. 27-62.

- Norah M. Titley, Persian Miniature Painting, London, The British Library, 1983.

Ebba Koch, The Complete Taj Mahal and the Riverfront Gardens of Agra, London, Thames & Hudson, 2006.

- Thomas Lentz and Glenn Lowry, Timur and the Princely Vision: Persian Art and Culture in the Fifteenth Century, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1989.

- Nancy Shatzman Steinhardt, China’s Early Mosques, Edinburgh University Press, 2018. Capitoli: 4-5-7.

Teaching methods

Each seminar is subdivided into two sections. A first part consists of a collective discussion on the theme of the day and a second part consists of a frontal lecture offered by the instructor.

Assessment methods

Students who attend at least 75% of the lessons are considered to be attending.

The final mark consists of the average between the assessment of the written essay and the assessment of the final oral exam.

The essay consists of a written piece of around 3000 words on a theme decided together with the professor.

With regard to the written essay, students will be evaluated assessing their skills in:

  • Structuring the written essay according to the theme;
  • Formulating an accurate formal analysis of the object/building focus of the written essay;
  • Reviewing the existing literature;
  • Outlining the historical and artistic context of the assigned object/building;
  • Producing a written essay provided with high-quality images and a consistent and accurate footnoting and bibliography.

The oral exam consists of an analysis of two objects/buildings discussed during the course and shown in slides during the exam and of a question regarding one of the themes discussed during the course.

In the oral exam the student will be assessed according to the:

  • Capacity of analysis developed by the student also at the light of the written essay;
  • Command of the specific language of the subject;
  • Ability in summarizing the most important topics of the subject.

29-30 e lode: a written essay that successfully meets all the above-mentioned five criteria together with the acquisition by the student of an excellent command of the technical language of the subject and an all-around knowledge of the themes discussed during the oral exam.

25-28: a written essay that successfully meets at least four of the above-mentioned criteria together with the use of a rather correct technical language and an accurate exposition of the subject during the oral exam.

21-24: a written essay that successfully meets at least three of the above mentioned criteria together with some inadequacies in the use of the technical language and a superficial exposition of the subject during the oral exam.

18-20: a written essay that meets at least three of the above mentioned criteria together with a patchy and poor exposition of the subject during the oral exam or a written essay that meets less than three among the above mentioned criteria together with a very basic exposition of the subject during the oral exam.

Failure: a written essay that meets less than three among the above mentioned criteria together with a patchy and poor exposition of the subject during the oral exam.

Contents of the exam for those students who do not attend the course:

Contents of the exam for those students who do not attend the course:

1) Discussion of an essay (of at least 5000 words) devoted to a topic related to Islamic art.

2) Two questions on Topics related to the history of Fatimid art.

Details:

1) The student selects a theme and sends an outline of the essay together with a preliminary bibliography to the professor by email. Once the theme is approved, the student writes the essay and sends it to the professor at least one week before the date of the exam.

2) to prepare the two questions related to the history of Fatimid art (one on architecture and one on objects) the student is invited to read the bibliography listed in the above section "readings/bibliography"

Teaching tools

All seminar presentations and readings will be made available through the e-learning platform (Virtuale).

Office hours

See the website of Mattia Guidetti

SDGs

Quality education Reduced inequalities

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.