Lifestyles of the rich (if not famous)

From CNN:

Some prominent New York divorce lawyers couldn’t think of another case where a spouse — in this instance, the wife of a major Broadway theater operator — had taken to YouTube to spill the secrets of a marriage in an apparent effort to gain leverage and humiliate the other side.

“This is absolutely a new step, and I think it’s scary,” said Bonnie Rabin, a divorce lawyer who has handled high-profile cases. “People used to worry about getting on Page Six [the gossip page of the New York Post]. But this? It brings the concept of humiliation to a whole new level.”

In a tearful and furious YouTube video with close to 150,000 hits to date, former actress and playwright (“Bonkers”) Tricia Walsh-Smith lashes out against her husband, Philip Smith, president of the Shubert Organization, the largest theater owner on Broadway.

More here.  And here’s the lovely video:

Sperm From Skin Becoming a Reality?

From Science:

Sperm In as little as 5 years, scientists may be able to grow eggs and sperm from ordinary body cells, an international consortium of scientists and ethicists announced in a consensus statement yesterday. The technological advance could be a boon for infertile couples as well as for research on reproduction, providing policymakers don’t ban the tools, the group says. Last year scientists announced that they had learned to turn back the clock on body cells. By inserting a select group of genes, they were able to convert skin cells into pluripotent stem cells (PSC)–cells capable of developing into any type of body tissue. This capability has opened up a whole new world of research–and it’s brought closer to reality the possibility of generating embryos from gametes (i.e., sperm and eggs) grown in the lab, bypassing the need to collect oocytes from women.

The consortium, known as the Hinxton Group, warns that “oversight structures” need to be in place before anyone attempts to deploy such gametes in human reproduction. Such a development raises a host of concerns that include safety issues and the specter of the “ultimate incest”–the same person supplying both egg and sperm. At the same time, the group urges policymakers to be “flexible” in regulating the new technologies, not only because of the insights they can offer into human development but also because they could present new options for infertile couples whose eggs or sperm is defective. In legislation currently being considered in the United Kingdom, it would be illegal to use gametes created in the lab to treat infertility.

More here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

On Hindu Nationalism and the Hindu Students Council

Bhagatsingh Borderless nationalisms seem norm of the era.  The Campaign to Stop Funding Hate has released this report, on the Hindu Students Council. From the preface:

To continue CSFH’s positive engagement with local HSC chapters and its membership who have remained unaware of the National HSCs connections with the violent Hindutva movement. CSFH believes that this generation of Indian-American youth would not willingly or knowingly participate in politics that supports or affirms violence in the name of religion or nation. Unlike the National HSC, we feel that local HSC chapter can be engaged in lively, strong discussions, discussions that will enrich us all and make us more aware of the political and social implications of our actions – even actions that we think are not “political” but simply express our urge to nurture our identity or learn about our heritage.

To continue to question the National HSC on its deep, long-standing connections with the Sangh Parivar [Hindu organizations built around the extreme nationalist RSS], and its use of the large majority of its unsuspecting members to further the Sangh Parivar’s agenda of hate.

[H/t: Linta Varghese]


Toil and Trouble… Stories of Experiments Gone Wrong

Eventimage In parallel with the World Science Festival is this event, Thursday, May 29th:

The Moth at Symphony Space

In a special event that throws a uniquely personal spotlight on the working lives of scientists, Nobel Laureates and other renowned scientists take to the stage to tell stories about heroic failures, miscalculations and experiments gone wrong.

This captivating evening of live stories is presented in partnership with New York’s extraordinary storytelling collective The Moth. In keeping with Moth traditions, each story must be true, must be told live, and must be told in ten minutes. During its ten-year history, The Moth has sold out every show – bringing more than 2,000 live stories to over 60,000 audience members.

    • Lucy Hawking                   

      Lucy Hawking is a journalist and the author of several novels. With her father, the physicist Stephen Hawking, she has written George’s Secret Key to the Universe, a children’s adventure featuring the mysteries of physics, science and the Universe.

christopher ricks on Dylan


But what I’m really suggesting is: the first time one hears Dylan will affect everything thereafter. Charlotte Brontë wrote wonderfully about first impressions and so did Jane Austin; we really need to value our first impressions and trust them, but not too much. I am the beneficiary – that also means the victim – of the fact that Dylan was first and foremost a love poet. At a party in Amherst, Massachusetts, the host and hostess announced that they were going to turn the lights out and that we were going to listen to a song. And we listened to “Desolation Row”. I’d never heard anything like it except that it was terrifically like The Waste Land, which is terrifically like Pope’s Dunciad. This is the extraordinary vision of hell on earth where civilization doesn’t know what to value or when it does know – doesn’t know how to value it.

Einstein, disguised as Robin Hood
With his memories in a trunk
Passed this way an hour ago
With his friend, a jealous monk,
He looked so immaculately frightful
As he bummed a cigarette
Then he went off sniffing drainpipes
And reciting the alphabet.

e=mc2 isn’t exactly reciting the alphabet, but it’s a wonderful way to put it. Or let’s take:

And Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot
Fighting in the captain’s tower
While calypso singers laugh at them.

Which is quite right: modernism was like the Titanic, it was terrifically expensive, it depended upon people below stairs or below deck. And it was a kind of disaster.

more from Eurozine here.

john “salter” McCain


John McCain came all the way to a Victorian opera house at this old Southern railroad junction to ponder his ancestors.

Not far from an airfield named for his grandfather, on a stage bedecked with black-and-white family photos, McCain reflected on the notions of honor and courage and duty passed down through generations as he confessed to having “been an imperfect servant of my country for many years.”

With this look backwards in search of meaning, McCain was reveling in his greatest political asset. Perhaps more than any other national candidate in recent memory, McCain has relied on the promise of a transcendent character guaranteed by personal experience, the reason he has been able to convince voters – especially those who disagree with him on key issues – of his ability to rise above partisanship and privilege, artifice and ambition.

This is a political project, but also a literary one, initiated by Mark Salter, the Arizona senator’s closest aide and one frequently described as his alter ego, who for nearly two decades has made telling McCain’s stories his own life’s work.

more from The Boston Globe here.

Tuesday Poem


In the beginning was the alphabet
–St. Roy

A Primer of the Daily RoundImage_alphabet
Howard Nemerov

A peels an apple, while B kneels to God,
C telephones to D, who has a hand
On E’s knee, F coughs, G turns up the sod
For H’s grave, I do not understand
But J is bringing one clay pigeon down
While K brings down a nightstick on L’s head,
And M takes mustard, N drives into town,
O goes to bed with P, and Q drops dead,
R lies to S, but happens to be heard
By T, who tells U not to fire V
For having to give W the word
That X is now deceiving Y with Z,
    Who happens just now to remember A
    Peeling an apple somewhere far away.


The testosterone of trading

From Nature:

Trading Books and films often dramatize financial-market traders as macho gamblers. Now there may be scientific evidence to back up that pop-culture image: two researchers have linked testosterone levels to the success of traders in one London market. John Coates, a trader-turned-neuroscientist at Cambridge University, UK, started the study after what he saw during his time working the markets: floor traders became frenzied during big winnings, then deeply depressed during downturns. “It was sort of classic manic behaviour,” he says. He says that he began to suspect that hormones, specifically testosterone, might be involved because the few female traders appeared to him to be “relatively unaffected”.

To find out, Coates and his Cambridge colleague Joe Herbert followed 17 male traders for 8 consecutive business days at a firm in London. The researchers took saliva samples from the group before and after the bulk of the day’s trading. They analysed the levels of two hormones: testosterone and cortisol, a hormone that is produced in response to uncertainty. The results, appearing today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, were clear according to Coates: “Traders had an above-average gain on the days their testosterone was above average.” In 14 out of the 17 cases, the traders earned more money on days they had elevated morning levels of the hormone.

More here.

How Epidemics Helped Shape the Modern Metropolis

From The New York Times:

Cholera_190_2 On a Sunday in July 1832, a fearful and somber crowd of New Yorkers gathered in City Hall Park for more bad news. The epidemic of cholera, cause unknown and prognosis dire, had reached its peak. People of means were escaping to the country. The New York Evening Post reported, “The roads, in all directions, were lined with well-filled stagecoaches, livery coaches, private vehicles and equestrians, all panic-struck, fleeing the city, as we may suppose the inhabitants of Pompeii fled when the red lava showered down upon their houses.”

An assistant to the painter Asher B. Durand described the scene near the center of the outbreak. “There is no business doing here if I except that done by Cholera, Doctors, Undertakers, Coffinmakers, &c,” he wrote. “Our bustling city now wears a most gloomy & desolate aspect — one may take a walk up & down Broadway & scarce meet a soul.” The epidemic left 3,515 dead out of a population of 250,000. (The equivalent death toll in today’s city of eight million would exceed 100,000.) The dreadful time is recalled in art, maps, death tallies and other artifacts in an exhibition, “ Plague in Gotham! Cholera in Nineteenth-Century New York,” at the New York Historical Society. The show will run through June 28.

More here.

Proust and the Squid

PD Smith investigates the intricate process of reading as seen through Maryanne Wolf’s Proust and the Squid.

Soon-to-be 3QD contributor (he starts this coming Monday) PD Smith in The Guardian:

ProustsquidAccording to Herodotus, the Egyptian king Psamtik I (664-610 BCE) conducted an experiment to discover the first spoken language. Two babies were isolated in a shepherd’s hut and no one was allowed to talk to them. Eventually, one baby spoke. The first word it uttered was bekos, “bread” in Phrygian, a language from northwest Anatolia. According to cognitive neuroscientist Maryanne Wolf, this was one of many such attempts to rediscover the Ursprache, the first language spoken on Earth. Indeed, it is a question archaeologists and linguists are still trying to answer today. But although the origins of spoken language may be lost in the mists of time, more tangible evidence exists for written language, and Psamtik would have been pleasantly surprised. Wolf cites recent evidence that suggests Egyptian hieroglyphs may be older (circa 3,400 BCE) than even Sumerian cuneiform writing.

Proust and the Squid is an inspiring celebration of the science of reading. In evolutionary terms, reading is a recently acquired cultural invention that uses existing brain structures for a radically new skill. Unlike vision or speech, there is no direct genetic programme passing reading on to future generations. It is an unnatural process that has to be learnt by each individual. As director of the Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University in Boston, Wolf works with readers of all ages, but particularly those with dyslexia, a condition that proves “our brains were never wired to read”. Wolf therefore has much of practical value to say about why some people have difficulty reading and how to overcome this.

More here.

Monday, April 14, 2008

East/West and the Central Role of Islamic Art

by Stefano Carboni

3QD contributer Alta Price had the good fortune of working with Ülku Bates and a team of scholars and curators on the exhibit Re-Orientations: Islamic Art and the West in the 18th and 19th Centuries. We posted a link to Holland Cotter’s recent review of the show in the New York Times, and the exhibit remains open to the public until April 26 at Hunter College. The accompanying catalogue includes several essays and detailed entries on each object, and we are pleased to present here the introductory essay by Metropolitan Museum of Art Curator Stefano Carboni.  

01 In the field of art history as well as in most disciplines, from political to anthropological to historical studies, the terms East and West are for the most part interpreted as a dichotomous pair. Only in the relatively recent past has it become politically incorrect in the “Western” world to view the West as morally and culturally superior to the East. This is not to say that the same sense of superiority was not felt in different times, for example, by the Chinese empire in relation to the “barbarians” of the west.(1) But the history of Europe and Asia in the past two to three centuries has much to do with colonialism and the exploitation of natural and human resources in favor of industrial development and augmented wealth in the Western world, inevitably bringing forth issues of supremacy and arrogance, control and authority, as well as anthropological and artistic curiosity. The rapid development of the disciplines of philosophy, history, sciences, archaeology, and art history in the post-Enlightenment era in Europe, combined with the inability to communicate constructively with their counterparts in Asia, contributed to widen the gap to the point that even today top-notch scholars from Japan, China, and India are educated in European and American universities and apply the art-historical parameters established by the various Gombrichs, Panofskys, and the like.(2)

    It is now usually understood that the geographical classification of East/West is culturally charged from a Eurocentric point of view, and that the East we refer to in art-historical terms represents Eastern, Southeastern, and Southern Asia—that is, the great traditions of Japan, China, and India in particular. As a matter of fact— even if it makes perfect sense that Western Asia, the Near East, and the Middle East play a fundamental role in the present discussion—non-specialists often don’t know what to make of Islamic art, where to place its geographical boundaries, how to differentiate between religious and secular, or how to fit it into the complex configuration of art history worldwide.(3)

02_9tile_panel_syrian_mma_18_c_2      An adequate general definition of Islamic art has been repeatedly suggested by a number of scholars who have also emphasized the fact that the adjective “Islamic” perhaps remains a not entirely satisfactory term—but still the most synthetic and acceptable, and I concur with them—to define this discipline of art-historical studies. Basically, Islamic art can be defined in an admittedly elaborate sentence as “the art produced for the most part (but by no means exclusively) by Muslim artists and craftsmen beginning from the seventh century of the Common Era in the areas of Asia, Africa, and Europe that were for the most part ruled by Muslim leaders, and that was produced for the most part (but by no means exclusively) for Muslim patrons and a general Muslim clientele.” The awkward repetition of “for the most part” and “by no means exclusively” is meant to emphasize not only the multicultural and multi-denominational facets of Muslim society and the strong presence of Christian and Jewish patrons and artists throughout the centuries,(4) but also that there existed a common artistic vocabulary that extended beyond those facets and thus allowed a collective understanding of architectural forms, object shapes, calligraphic patterns, and surface decoration. Islamic religious art, from mosque buildings to copies of the Qur’an to mosque furniture, was of course exclusively meant for Muslim patrons and for Muslim consumption; this, however, does not mean that its aniconic expression dominated the overall production of Islamic art. On the contrary, the majority of the works of “Islamic” art are of secular nature and include a large number of figurative works, from illustrated manuscripts to painted ceramics, from three-dimensional bronze figures to enamel-painted glass.


Because East/West is plainly a geographic dichotomy, it is the nebulous boundaries of Islamic art that become particularly germane in this case. This is also what I find to be one of the most peculiar, stimulating, and exhilarating aspects of the study of this field. These changing boundaries represented uninterrupted but porous frontiers in which constant exchange, interaction, and cross-effects took place both within the confines of the Islamic world and between Europe and Asia, all through the intermediary of Islamic art. The best-known examples of exchange and mutual fostering between the Islamic border regions and their neighbors are the development of the arts in the Iberian peninsula (al-Andalus) from the eighth to the sixteenth century and the contacts among Muslims, Christians, and Jews;(5) the familiarity and adoption of Islamic art forms and techniques by the Normans in Sicily (twelfth to thirteenth centuries);(6) and the impact of the Eastern-Asian traditions on Islamic art under the Ilkhanids (Mongols of Iran and Iraq, 1256–1353), which lasted for centuries.(7) Within the Islamic borders, a good example is provided by the migration of Iranian Safavid artists to the court of the Mughals in India and their initial influence over the development of peculiar Indo-Muslim and later Indo-Portuguese styles across the subcontinent, including the central plateau of the Deccan, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.(8) Many more examples, however, could be mentioned, including those that involve the relocation of artists across continents; the transfer of works of art through diplomatic exchange, commerce, and looting; and the crisscrossing traffic of high-quality trade goods, textiles, literary works, languages, religions, and ideas.

     In a recent project, I sought to demonstrate the ways in which trade, political acumen, and incessant diplomacy, rather than conquests and consequent changing borders, could also provide for centuries of continuous cultural and artistic exchanges between the Islamic powers controlling the eastern and southeastern Mediterranean coasts and the Most Serene Republic of Venice, one of the major European political players for almost a millennium.(9) In this case, it was the Venetians who initially imported, learned, absorbed, imitated, and re-elaborated the artistic, technical, and technological traditions of the Islamic world and eventually—because of the expanding and exciting horizons of the European Renaissance and the contemporaneous shrinking prosperity of the Mediterranean Islamic powers, in particular the Mamluks—reversed the trend and conquered the export market of luxury goods. For the pragmatic Venetians, who enjoyed a constant diplomatic presence and established communities of merchants in the Near East, therefore, East/West was not perceived as a dichotomy; it was a way of life, a source of wealth, and a familiar place.

08      The so-called period of the Islamic empires usually refers to the emergence or the full establishment of three powerful entities in the Islamic world—the Ottomans, the Safavids, and the Mughals—from the sixteenth century onward. The Ottomans (late thirteenth century through 1924) controlled most of North Africa, including Egypt, the eastern Mediterranean coast reaching inland as far as Iraq, most of the Arabian peninsula including the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, all of Anatolia, and most of the Balcans and eastern Europe. The Safavids (1501–1722) ruled over all of Greater Iran, and the Mughals (1526–1858) dominated a large part of the Indian subcontinent including parts of modern Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is roughly at the beginning of this period that the European Renaissance boomed and that the rule of the Ming dynasty in China (1368–1644) was at its apex. This was also the moment, however, of the unstoppable emergence of the politically stronger European powers in the business of world trade. Amassing great wealth, these European powers quickly dominated or at least controlled the sea routes of Southern Asia and Africa (not to mention the Americas) and thus entirely bypassed the traditional Mediterranean passageway for Asian-European trade from which the Islamic world had benefited so greatly throughout the centuries in their role of middlemen and brokers. The British, Portuguese, Dutch, and Russian empires established a strong economic, political, and diplomatic presence along the sea and land routes, forever changing and upsetting the parameters of communication and exchange between Europe and the Islamic world.(10)

    This exhibition, titled Re-Orientations: Islamic Art and the West in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, seeks to explore the ways these parameters of communication and exchange functioned at a time when the European presence had fully established a powerful political grip in Mughal India, a forceful diplomatic and economic stranglehold in Qajar Iran (1779–1925), and a subtle and almost flirtatious political and cultural influence over a weakening Ottoman empire, the de facto eastern neighbor of the European powers.(11) The exhibition grew out of a curatorial-studies course—conceived by Professor Bates from Hunter College and initially co-taught by me—on “Occidentalism” in Islamic art. The “reorientation” mentioned in the title of the exhibition was certainly preceded by a period of “disorientation” in the Islamic world, at least in terms of artistic direction, which can be analyzed differently and diachronically in each of the three empires.

    In India, the European presence at the Mughal court made itself felt at an early stage during the period of reign of Akbar (r. 1556–1605), a time when his keen interest in world religions encouraged him to seek the advice of non-Indians and non-Persians. Eventually, this resulted in a flow of Christian Catholic and Protestant prints and paintings from Europe to India that affected Mughal art on different levels. The most noticeable and superficial effect was the straightforward copy or imitation of Western subjects and compositions, or at least the incorporation of several of their elements, such as puffy clouds with putti in the sky. On a deeper level, the development of true portraiture, which became highly regarded as an artistic subject in the Islamic world for the first time in India and turned into one of the hallmarks of Mughal painting, was unquestionably stimulated by the well-established European tradition.(12)

06     In Iran, the presence of European visitors at the Safavid court in Isfahan began to be felt as a sort of exotic attendance to garden parties and drinking sessions, as illustrated in tiled wall panels from the early seventeenth century.(13) It quickly moved on, however, to motivate a more genuine interest in Western techniques and compositions, to the point that Muhammad Zaman, one of the most important Iranian painters of the second half of the seventeenth century, may have traveled and spent time in Europe. The later Qajar period pays full respect to European painting not only by adopting portraiture as a means to further political agendas and a cult of the shah’s personality, but also by adopting large-size oil paintings on canvas for these purposes. The early development and technological advances in photography further fostered this interest in the West. Qajar art is indeed an interesting, sometimes odd, mixture of nostalgia for the ancient Sasanian past and a presumptuous and anachronistic glance over the courts of Europe; it is almost as if Fath cAli Shah (r. 1797–1834) saw himself as the embodiment of both Shapur II (r. 309–379) and Louis XIV (r. 1643–1715) at the same time. The Qajar guise, however, expressed the contemporary Persian longing and effort to be an active part of the “big world,” recognizing that progress, development, and wealth came mostly from the Western countries.(14)

    The Ottomans in the nineteenth century, on the other hand, seemed to lose the self-confidence that the Qajars were trying hard to demonstrate. Declining politically, the Ottoman Empire was progressively losing its former splendor during this period, and the sultan and his court must have felt the pressure at the borders and economic weakening keenly. In a changing market economy that included a shift of goods exported from the West to the East, the Ottoman court and the royal entourage pretended to remain at the zenith of their power and influence by building the Versailles-type palace of Dolmabahçe in Istanbul and by surrounding themselves with lavish imported European furniture, furnishings, and objets d’art, inaugurating what has been described as the rococò period in Ottoman art.(15) In Istanbul, artists never developed an interest in adopting and adapting portraiture or oil painting on large canvases, although they demonstrated a curiosity in landscape painting, city views, and marine panoramas (unlike their Persian and Indian colleagues) in addition to photography.(16) But it was mostly at the level of luxury arts and crafts, particularly silverwork, metalwork, and glass, that the connection with Western art can be demonstrated more accurately, especially as an effort to “send back” to the European market objects that met the same taste with a diluted Ottoman flavor.(17)


    East/West therefore becomes a shifting terminology according to the different periods, geographical centers, and cultural points of view. Within the Islamic world, as in all cultures, one’s position is always perceived as central. In the Qur’an (seventh century C.E.) we are reminded that Allah, the Light of the heavens and the earth, is compared to a “ . . . lamp enclosed in glass: the glass as it were a brilliant star lit from a blessed tree, an olive, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil is well-nigh luminous. . . . ” (Qur’an, 24:35, translated by Yusufali, my italics).

    At the opposite end of the chronological spectrum, ayatollah Khomeini referred to the United States as the capitalism of the West and to the Soviet Union as the socialism of the East during the Iranian Revolution of the 1970s. Therefore, one of the most important goals in Iranian foreign policy, still largely valid today after the collapse of the Soviet Union, was to prevent political, economic, and cultural reliance on both Western capitalism and Eastern socialism, thus looking only at Islam for the right answers.(18) This concept of “neither east nor west,” initially a mere political slogan, had some success and has entered the world of mainstream literary works, such as Christiane Bird’s recent book Neither East Nor West: One Woman’s Journey Through the Islamic Republic of Iran (2001).(19)

07     In the arts, this position should be interpreted mostly in a geographical sense but still as a central one. The Islamic world was a throughway between the East and West, and artistic ideas, patterns, shapes, and designs were often retained, studied, understood, and transformed into the language of Islamic art. Sometimes, they passed through without being noticed. During the periods of most fruitful exchange, the Islamic areas took up an important radial role of diffusion of the arts, either from the central cities of the various caliphates and sultanates or from the peripheral centers closer to the borders with the East and the West.(20)

    “Occidentalism” and “reorientation” are just two facets of this broader issue—facets that have, however, been largely neglected in art-historical studies mostly because they correspond to a late phenomenon in Islamic art and a slightly uneasy one due to the Western contribution to it. Thanks to the present exhibition and catalogue, I am happy to witness that time has come to address this fascinating aspect of Islamic art.


1. In China, depending on the period and reigning dynasty, there was a rather sophisticated system of classification of “barbarians” or “outsiders” based on the four cardinal points of the compass.

2. See in particular Erwin Panofsky’s Meaning in the Visual Arts: Papers in and on Art History (1955) and Idea: A Concept in Art Theory (1968), and Ernst Gombrich’s The Story of Art (first edition 1950), The Sense of Order: A Study in the Psychology of the Decorative Arts (1979), and Reflections on the History of Art: Views and Reviews (1987).

3. In addition to a widespread poor knowledge of the Islamic world and its history, its peculiar geographical distribution makes it an uneasy fit into the traditional classifications of art history. Classification has ranged from attempts to incorporate it into the medieval European world (in the early part of the twentieth century) to the continental concept of “Asian” art where, however, it always plays a marginal role.

4. In relation to the arts, the active role of Christians and Jews in a predominantly Muslim world is firmly established through written sources and patronage.

5. See, for example, Vivian B. Mann, Thomas F. Glick, and Jerrilynn D. Dodds, eds., Convivencia. Jews, Muslims, and Christians in Medieval Spain, exh. cat. (New York: George Brazille in association with The Jewish Museum, 1992), with its bibliography. A more recent example is Cynthia Robinson and Layla Rouhi, eds., Under the Influence: Questioning the Comparative in Medieval Castile (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2004).

6. Jeremy Johns, Arabic Administration in Norman Sicily: The Royal Diwan (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002); Ernst J. Grube and Jeremy Johns, The Painted Ceiling of the Cappella Palatina (Genoa: Bruschettini Foundation for Islamic and Asian Art, and New York: East-West Foundation, 2005).

7. Linda Komaroff and Stefano Carboni, The Legacy of Genghis Khan. Courtly Art and Culture in Western Asia, 1256–1353, exh. cat. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2002), with its extensive bibliography.

8. Among many published works, see Daniel Walker, Flowers Underfoot: Indian Carpets of the Mughal Era, exh. cat. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1997); Ashok Kumar Srivastava, Mughal Painting: An Interplay of Indigenous and Foreign Traditions (New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, 2000); Ebba Koch, ed., Mughal Art and Imperial Ideology: Collected Essays (Delhi and New York: Oxford University Press, 2001); and Rosemary Crill, Susan Stronge, and Andrew Topsfield, eds., Arts of Mughal India: Studies in Honour of Robert Skelton (Ahmedabad, India: Mapin Publishing, 2004).

9. Stefano Carboni, ed., Venice and the Islamic World, 828–1797 (Paris: Gallimard, distributed by Yale University Press, 2007).

10. Cultures of the Indian Ocean, exh. cat. (Lisbon: National Commission for the Commemoration of the Portuguese Discoveries, 1998); Gauvin A. Bailey, The Jesuits and the Grand Mogul: Renaissance Art at the Imperial Court of India, 1580–1630 (Washington, DC: Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, 1998); Jay A. Levenson, ed., Encompassing the Globe: Portugal and the World in the 16th & 17th Centuries (Washington, DC: Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, 2007).

11. A general view of this period in relation to the three late Islamic empires and their artistic relationship with Europe can be found in Stephen Vernoit, Occidentalism: Islamic Art in the 19th CenturyDiscovering Islamic Art: Scholars, Collectors and Collections, 1850–1950Islamic Art in the 19th Century: Tradition, Innovation, and Eclecticism (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2006).

12. In addition to the sources listed in note 8, see, among many, Abu al-Fazl ibn Mubarak, The Akbar Nama of Abu-l-Fazl: History of the Reign of Akbar, Including an Account of his Predecessors, trans. H. Beveridge (New Delhi, India: Ess Ess Publications, 1985); Barbara Brend, The Emperor Akbar’s Khamsa of Nizami (London: British Library, 1995); and John Seyller et al., The Adventures of Hamza. Painting and Storytelling in Mughal India, exh. cat. (Washington, DC, and London: Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in association with Azimuth Editions, 2002).

13. One of these panels in the Metropolitan Museum of Art representing European foreigners was published most recently in Assadullah Souren Melikian-Chirvani, Le Chant du monde. L’art de l’Iran safavide 1501–1736, exh. cat. (Paris: Musée du Louvre Editions and Somogy Editions d’Art, 2007), no. 120, p. 359.

14. See, among many, Layla S. Diba with Maryam Ekhtiar, ed., Royal Persian Paintings: The Qajar Epoch, 1785–1925, exh. cat. (Brooklyn, NY: Brooklyn Museum of Art in association with I. B. Tauris Publishers, 1998); Julian Raby, Qajar Portraits (London and New York: Azimuth Editions in association with the Iran Heritage Foundation, distributed by I. B. Tauris Publishers, 1999); Frederick N. Bohrer, Sevruguin and the Persian Image: Photographs of Iran, 1870–1930 (Washington, DC, Seattle, and London: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, and University of Washington Press, 1999); Irina Koshoridze, Layla S. Diba, and B. W. Robinson, Qajar Portraits / Kajaruli portreti (Tbilisi, Georgia: Shalva Amiranashvili State Art Museum of Georgia, 2004); Willem Floor, Wall Paintings and Other Figurative Mural Art in Qajar IranMuraqqa’e Sharqi: Studies in Honor of Peter Chelkowski (San Marino: AIEP Editore, 2007).

15. Zeynep Çelik, The Remaking of Istanbul: Portrait of an Ottoman City in the Nineteenth CenturyIstanbul 1900: Art-Nouveau Architecture and Interiors (New York: Rizzoli, 1996); Diana Barillari, D’Aronco Ottoman Architect. Projects for Istanbul 1893–1909. Restorations, Projects, Books, catalogue 1 (Istanbul: Istanbul Research Institute, 2006).

16. Engin Çizgen, Photography in the Ottoman Empire, 1839–1919 (Istanbul: Haşet Kitabevi, 1987).

17. Particular mention in this respect should be made of the glass production in Beykoz near Istanbul, on the Bosphorus; see Fuat Bahramoglu, Turkish Glass Art and Beykoz-Ware (Istanbul: Publications of the RCD Cultural Institute, 1976).

18. See

19. Published by Pocket Books, Washington Square Press, New York, 2001.

20. Oleg Grabar has addressed some of these issues in a number of articles and essays, five of which were recently collected and published again in Islamic Visual Culture, 1100–1800. Constructing the Study of Islamic Art, vol. II (Aldershot, England: Ashgate Variorum, 2006), pp. 381–441.


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Diba, Layla S., with Maryam Ekhtiar, ed. Royal Persian Paintings: The Qajar Epoch, 1785–1925. Exh. cat. Brooklyn, NY: Brooklyn Museum of Art in association with I. B. Tauris Publishers, 1998.

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Grabar, Oleg. Islamic Visual Culture, 1100–1800. Constructing the Study of Islamic Art, Vol. II. Aldershot, England: Ashgate Variorum, 2006.

Grube, Ernst J., and Jeremy Johns. The Painted Ceiling of the Cappella Palatina. Genoa: Bruschettini Foundation for Islamic and Asian Art, and New York: East-West Foundation, 2005.

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Komaroff, Linda, and Stefano Carboni. The Legacy of Genghis Khan. Courtly Art and Culture in Western Asia, 1256–1353. Exh. cat. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2002.

Koshoridze, Irina, Layla S. Diba, and B. W. Robinson. Qajar Portraits / Kajaruli portreti. Tbilisi, Georgia: Shalva Amiranashvili State Art Museum of Georgia, 2004.

Levenson, Jay A., ed. Encompassing the Globe: Portugal and the World in the 16th & 17th Centuries. Washington, DC: Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, 2007.

Mann, Vivian B., Thomas F. Glick, and Jerrilynn D. Dodds, eds. Convivencia: Jews, Muslims, and Christians in Medieval Spain. Exh. cat. New York: George Braziller in association with The Jewish Museum, 1992.

Mubarak, Abu al-Fazl ibn. The Akbar Nama of Abu-l-Fazl: History of the Reign of Akbar, Including an Account of his Predecessors. Translated by H. Beveridge. New Delhi, India: Ess Ess Publications, 1985.

Raby, Julian. Qajar Portraits. London and New York: Azimuth Editions in association with the Iran Heritage Foundation, distributed by I. B. Tauris Publishers, 1999.

Rastegar, Soussie, and Anna Vanzan, eds. Muraqqa’e Sharqi: Studies in Honor of Peter Chelkowski. San Marino: AIEP Editore, 2007.

Robinson, Cynthia, and Layla Rouhi, eds. Under the Influence: Questioning the Comparative in Medieval Castile. Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2004.

Seyller, John, Ebba Koch, and Wheeler Thackston. The Adventures of Hamza: Painting and Storytelling in Mughal India. Exh. cat. Washington, DC, and London: Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in association with Azimuth Editions, 2002.

Srivastava, Ashok Kumar. Mughal Painting: An Interplay of Indigenous and Foreign Traditions. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, 2000.

Vernoit, Stephen, ed. Discovering Islamic Art: Scholars, Collectors and Collections, 1850–1950. London and New York: I.B. Tauris Publishers, 2000.

__________. Occidentalism: Islamic Art in the 19th Century. London and New York: Nour Foundation in association with Azimuth Editions and Oxford University Press, 1997.

Walker, Daniel. Flowers Underfoot: Indian Carpets of the Mughal Era. Exh. cat. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1997.

Stefano Carboni is Curator and Administrator in the Department of Islamic Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Visiting Professor at the Bard Graduate Center in New York. He joined the curatorial staff at the Metropolitan Museum in 1992 after completing his graduate studies in Arabic and in Islamic Art at the University of Venice and his Ph.D. in Islamic Art at the University of London. At the Metropolitan Museum he has been responsible for a large number of exhibitions, including the recent acclaimed Venice and the Islamic World, 828-1797 (2006-2007). His publications include authoring and editing several exhibition catalogues, among which are Glass of the Sultans (2001); the prestigious Barr Award–winner The Legacy of Genghis Khan. Courtly Arts and Culture in Western Asia, 1256-1353 (2002); and Venice and the Islamic World; another major publication is the catalogue of the Islamic glass collection in the National Museum of Kuwait (Glass from Islamic Lands. The Al-Sabah Collection, Kuwait National Museum, 2001). He lectures widely in the museum and outside and teaches courses in Islamic Art and Curatorial Studies on a regular basis at the Institute of Fine Arts (NYU), Hunter College (CUNY), and the Bard Graduate Center for the Decorative Arts in New York.

Monday Poem

The Tao that can be thought of is not the real Tao
so the Tao that can be spoken is not the real Tao either
soooo, the Tao that can be named is likewise nothing too.
.………………………………………–Lao Tzu, sort of

'The spirit of the best of men is spotless,
like the new Lotus in the [muddy] water
which does not adhere to it.
………………………………………. –





My Religious Life
Jim Culleny

I was Catholic,
but was not universal enough
when I was.

I was Protestant,
but did not protest enough
when I was.

I was a Transcendental Meditationist,
but was not transcendent enough
when I was.

I was a dilettante Buddhist,
but (unlike the lotus) I failed to bud
when I was.

Now as a Taoist
in an inscrutable plan
I’m most content, because
it’s nothing I can really talk about
if I am.

Listen: Here