Publication News

The Art and Architecture of Twelver Shi'ism: Iraq, Iran and the Indian Sub-Continent.

twelverJames W. Allan

Biennial Ehsan Yarshater Lecture Series, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (January 11–16, 2007), Azimuth Editions, London, 2012.

This book arose from the exhibition Pilgrimage: The Sacred Journey, held at the Ashmolean Museum in 2006, curated by Dr Ruth Barnes. Those of us involved in it discovered that, amongst the many tens of books on the art and architecture of the Islamic world, there are none in which to look up the art and architecture associated with Twelver Shi'ism. This is the dominant faith in southern Iraq and Iran, and has also had a major historical role in India, in particular in the Deccan and in Lucknow. This book attempts to correct the situation, and is the first in its field.

It looks first at the history of the great Shi'i shrines of Iraq and Iran, a subject almost completely untouched in the standard works on Islamic architecture; on the role of Shi'i and, unexpectedly, Sunni (orthodox Islamic) patronage in their development; at the collecting of relics, and the use of inscriptions and symbols to identify religious buildings; and at the way in which different Shi'i religious buildings (e.g. tekiyehs, ashur khanehs and kerbalas) appeared in Iran and in India.

It then turns to the impact of Shi'ism on the craft industries, highlighting in particular the role of shrines in promoting art, the likely importance of Shi'ism in the development of Iran's steelworking industry, the use of inscriptions to identify objects as Shi'i, and the rise of figural art to communicate Shi'i faith – in the arts of the book, in paintings of the Kerbala drama, and, since the Islamic Revolution, on Iranian banknotes and stamps.

Finally, it turns to the impact of the art of Shi'ism on the annual Muharram processions, with their magnificent steel and brass standards ('alams), and highlights the syncretism characteristic of Shi'i art and architecture in the subcontinent.

Publication News

Architecture and Hagiography in the Ottoman Empire: The Politics of Bektashi Shrines in the Classical Age

hagiographyZeynep Yürekli

Based on a thorough examination of buildings, inscriptions, archival documents and hagiographies, this book uncovers the political significance of Bektashi shrines in the Ottoman imperial age. It thus provides a fresh and comprehensive account of the formative process of the Bektashi order, which started out as a network of social groups that took issue with Ottoman imperial policies in the late fifteenth century, was endorsed imperially as part of Bayezid II's (r. 1481–1512) soft power policy, and kept under check by imperial authorities as the Ottoman approach to the Safavid conflict hardened during the rest of the sixteenth century.

Ashgate, Birmingham Byzantine and Ottoman Studies - November 2012. Includes 50 b&w illustrations, 3 maps and 4 plans. 230 pages. Hardback. ISBN: 978-1-4094-1106-2

Scholarship News

Oxford Wolfson Marriott & I.M.Pei Graduate Scholarship in Islamic Art and Architecture

The Khalili Research Centre is offering jointly with Wolfson College a fully-funded graduate scholarship at the University of Oxford from the beginning of the academic year 2014-2015 for a student undertaking either doctoral research or a combined four-year programme consisting of a Master's course continuing on to a DPhil. Applications are invited from suitably qualified graduates who are applying for entry to the Faculty of Oriental Studies to commence DPhil research in the field of Islamic art and architecture in October 2014. The Scholarship is awarded on the basis of academic merit and potential. The Scholarship will cover their full costs including the University composition fee, the College fee, and maintenance costs at the current UK Research Council rate. The successful scholar will become a member of Wolfson College and be offered a room in College accommodation (at the current rent) for the first year of their course (see here). Applicants should first consult the Further Particulars that may be consulted and downloaded here. Applicants, whether internal or external, should apply to the University under the standard procedures for graduate degrees for 2014-15. The University's application procedures are described at Applications should normally be made on-line ( before 24 January 2014.

Publication News

Essays Presented to James W. Allan

metalworkI.B. Tauris 2012

The material and visual culture of the Islamic World casts vast arcs through space and time, and encompasses a huge range of artefacts and monuments from the minute to the grandiose, from ceramic pots to the great mosques. Here, Venetia Porter and Mariam Rosser-Owen assemble leading experts in the field to examine both the objects themselves and the ways in which they reflect their historical, cultural and economic contexts.

Islamic metalwork is the particular focus of this book, which celebrates the fundamental contribution to its study made by James Allan. It includes an important new study of Mosul metalwork and presents recent discoveries in the fields of Fatimid, Mamluk and Qajar metalwork. Reflecting the inter-disciplinary spirit of this book, chapters explore the role of painting in the design of Islamic metalwork, issues of influence between Iran and India, and the importance of textual sources for the understanding of metalworking and the trade in raw materials.

Metalwork and Material Culture in the Islamic World also investigates cases from the Islamic West, and the spread of different artistic styles and influences across the Islamic World and beyond. By examining architecture, ceramics, ivories and textiles, seventeenth-century Iranian painting, and contemporary art, the book explores a wide range of artistic production and historical periods from the Umayad caliphate to the modern Middle East. This rich and detailed volume makes a significant contribution to the fields of Art History, Architecture and Islamic Studies, bringing new objects to light and shedding new light on old objects.

To order this book at the Special Offer Price of £38.50 – 30% off – go to

Bursary News

The UBS AG Bursary in Islamic Art

ubs logo 1895A generous benefaction to The Friends of the Khalili Research Centre (U.K. Registered Charity no. 1116434) from the Swiss global financial services company UBS AG will provide a bursary for a graduate student demonstrating exceptional academic merit who has been accepted by the Faculty of Oriental Studies in the University of Oxford to pursue research in any subject of Islamic art, architecture, or archaeology. Further details are available here.

The Khalili Research Centre is the University of Oxford's powerhouse for research and teaching of the art, architecture and archaeology of the Islamic societies of the Middle East and of their non-Muslim members and neighbours. The UBS AG bursary, which will run from 2013–2018, will provide for the fees of a student, who demonstrates exceptional academic merit and is working towards a doctorate in Islamic art.

In establishing the UBS AG bursary in Islamic Art, Mr Jakob Stott, CEO Wealth Management Europe said: "We are confident that the work of the KRC breaks down borders, and that its students will not only achieve personal success but will also leave Oxford as eloquent, impassioned and persuasive champions of Islamic art and of its importance as a medium for greater understanding and acceptance between different cultures as a force for change."

The Director of the KRC, Professor Jeremy Johns, said: "The visual language of Islamic art is universal. It transcends the linguistic, political and religious divisions that plague our world, not only in the contemporary Middle East, but also in Britain, Europe and North America. We at Oxford are immensely privileged to teach and to learn from brilliant and exciting young students who come to us from all over the world. We are delighted and immensely grateful to UBS AG for having joined those who support them."