The arts of the Mamluks are considered a particularly rich field of study stretching over a nearly three hundred year period. Diverse in their make-up, the progression and development of this art began with strong Ayyubid influences that quickly evolved into a style that was uniquely Mamluk. While many historians have argued that figural imagery all but disappeared in these later progressions of Mamluk art, most notably following the reign of the Mamluk sultan al-Nasir Muhammad (1309-1341), the reality of these conclusions is much more complex. Indeed, the lack of conclusively dated materials from these later periods has been a significant factor in these early claims regarding Mamluk figural imagery. However, given the recent study released by Rachel Ward that re-dated Medieval Syrian and Egyptian glass, as well as a careful reexamination of other portable arts of this period, it becomes clear that the production of anthropomorphic and zoomorphic imagery was by no means halted during the reign of al-Nasir Muhammad, but rather was relegated to artwork that did not bear the official court titulature of amirs and sultans. In this sense, figural imagery played a important, albeit secondary, role in the visual expressions of the Mamluk ruling elite.
Arab & Islamic Civilizations Department
MA in Arabic Studies
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(2014).The supposed dissipation of figural imagery in Mamluk art: a study of Mamluk iconography [Master's Thesis, the American University in Cairo]. AUC Knowledge Fountain.
Peruski, Jennifer. The supposed dissipation of figural imagery in Mamluk art: a study of Mamluk iconography. 2014. American University in Cairo, Master's Thesis. AUC Knowledge Fountain.