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Renaissance Venice, Islam and Mahmud the Kurd : a metalworking enigma

Author: Sylvia Auld
Publisher: London : Altajir World of Islam Trust, 2004.
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
The name of Mahmud the Kurd (probably an itinerant master craftsman working in the second half of the 15th century) has been found on ten small, domestic objects of brass. All are exquisitely worked with intricate arabesques. On one, his signature appears in two forms in Arabic (or Persian), and in transliterated Roman script. Why? For whom was he working, and where? These are the questions which this book tries to  Read more...
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Additional Physical Format: Online version:
Auld, Sylvia.
Renaissance Venice, Islam and Mahmud the Kurd.
London : Altajir World Of Islam Trust, 2004
(OCoLC)607584444
Named Person: Maḥmūd Kurdī; Mahmûd, el-Kurdi; Mahmûd, el-Kurdi.; Maḥmūd Kurdī; Mahmûd, el-Kurdi.
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Sylvia Auld
ISBN: 1901435113 9781901435115
OCLC Number: 56708830
Description: 349 pages : illustrations ; 27 cm
Contents: The work of Mahmud al-Kurdi and associates --
The work of the Zain al-Din group --
A question of provenance : the art historical view --
Links between East and West : the historical perspective --
Decorative techniques --
Arabesques and knots : principal decorative motifs --
Appendix : details of Timurid design --
Where was Mahmud al-Kurdi working? Towards a solution --
Catalogue : incense burners --
Catalogue : round-bottomed covered boxes or bowls --
Catalogue : cylindrical boxes and covers --
Catalogue : bowls and dishes --
Catalogue : salvers --
Catalogue : candlesticks --
Catalogue : buckets --
Catalogue : ewers or jugs --
Catalogue : miscellaneous --
Catalogue of locations --
Catalogue of signed objects --
Sources of decorative details.
Responsibility: Sylvia Auld.

Abstract:

The name of Mahmud the Kurd (probably an itinerant master craftsman working in the second half of the 15th century) has been found on ten small, domestic objects of brass. All are exquisitely worked with intricate arabesques. On one, his signature appears in two forms in Arabic (or Persian), and in transliterated Roman script. Why? For whom was he working, and where? These are the questions which this book tries to answer. The widespread links between Renaissance Europe and Islam, which emerge as part of the trail, may come as a surprise to some readers. The objects listed in this book are not only fascinating in themselves but can be seen as a microcosm of the international exchanges and excursions of the period. Later, in 19th-century Europe, it was even assumed that Mahmud (and others working in the same style) were employed in Venice. This seems improbable following research in the archives, but so far no satisfactory explanation has been offered for Mahmuds double-language signature. Close examination of the objects shows that there are in fact three distinct styles. In the 15th century, against a backdrop of diplomatic intrigue in the face of Ottoman victories, Venice promoted links with their rivals, the Turcoman White Sheep dynasty, whose capital then was at Tabriz. This explains a Persian element in the decorative detail of the first stylistic group. Some of the objects of a second group include a European shield as part of their decoration. Despite renewed papal bans, European trade with Islam continued unabated in the Eastern Mediterranean; Venice was the prime port for this commercial activity, and this accounts for the appearance of this second, Mamluk, group. The admiration in Europe and more particularly in Italy for the high quality of Islamic inlaid work explains the details of a third, western, group. Men like Benvenuto Cellini not only set out to emulate this technique, which they called azzimina, but to prove that they could do better.

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