Ceramic, Metal, and Glass: Questions about the Relations between Design, Technology, Industries, and Trade Patterns in Pre-Modern Middle East


Spring 2010


5th Floor Classroom


Since Hellenistic vase painting and Roman glass industry, perhaps no other culture developed such refinement on a large industrial scale than the pre-modern Islamic culture. Questions of design and technique will be explored as well as their main production centres and trade patterns. Visual representations of humans and animals, their abstractions and calligraphy hold their balance in design as in the other forms of Islamic material culture. Ceramics imported from China via Inner Asia or by the Indian Ocean influenced the production in Egypt, Iran, and Anatolia. Whereas glass and ceramics industries are usually close together, metal industry is distinct in price and workmanship. Nevertheless its forms and functions are related to their ceramic and pottery counterparts. Precious metal ware was the matter of a religious debate, especially in the 11th century. Almost at the same time base metal jars were inlaid with gold and silver, creating a craft that still lives in the Middle East. 3 credits.