Illumination of the manuscript compare to the art of Qurans
Consider this Hebrew manuscript of the Book of Exodus from 10th century Egypt, now in the collection of the British Library: https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/karaite-book-of-exodus-or-2540. (note: the text is written in Arabic rather than in Hebrew)
How does the illumination of the manuscript compare to the art of Qur’ans that we have studied so far (be specific)?
Why do you think the Jewish community commissioned this biblical text in this way? If you had to select from the following headings – Islamic art or Jewish art – how would you classify this object? Why?
What other categories or terminology might you use to describe it? Reflect on the task of categorization – what did you think about in trying to determine the most fitting category?
What did you struggle with? What does this tell you about the nature of identity in the medieval period?
The Fatimid period has been considered by many scholars as a golden age of multicultural and interfaith tolerance, which witnessed the construction of iconic structures, including Cairo’s al-Azhar and al-Hakim mosques as well as several Coptic and Syrian churches and monasteries, as well as several synagogues.
Read about the similarities in wood-carving in Fatimid Egypt’s mosque and church architecture:
Adeline Jeudy, ” A mixed company of Syrians, Saracens, and Greeks” A mixed company of Syrians, Saracens, and Greeks” – Alternative Formats
(read the Egypt section only, pages 225-233)
How do the two groups of woodcarvings compare? How would you classify them? Are they both works of Islamic art? If so, why? If not, why not?
Watch this video about a ceramic bowl in the British Museum and explore Diarna’s records on the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Cairo:
British Museum: Islamic arts in Egypt: script and lusterware
Diarna: Ben Ezra Synagogue
What do these works teach us about the relationships across religious communities in Fatimid Egypt?