Sussan Babaie: The Timurid "kitabkhana" (library/atelier/scriptorium/workshop)

Wissenschaftliches Kolloquium / Colloquio scientifico

Timurid Samarqand is the stuff of legend: in Persian poetry, it is pictured as the desired destination for the learned and the lover; to Babur, the founder of the Mughal dynasty, it was the ancestral home of his South Asian empire; to the merchants networking as far afield as Venice and Peking, it was the marketplace where they met at the intersection of the legendary silk roads. In anticipation of the scheduled visit in March 2012 to Samarqand, this workshop considers some of the salient features of the arts and architecture of the Timurids (1370-1509). Timur/Tamerlane (r 1370-1405) founded an empire encompassing a vast region of West, Central and South Asia, and a plethora of ethnicities, religions and languages. To the Timurid elite, who was Turko-Mongol in ethnicity and languages, Persian was the 'lingua franca', the thread that created a Persianate cultural landscape across the entire empire and established a legacy shared by the Ottomans, the Safavids and the Mughals. Our readings and discussions for this workshop will consider Timurid monuments in modern Uzbekistan through the lens of this vast cultural zone anchored on a network of princely "kitabkhana" and the imperial patronage of architecture. Specific buildings, urban ensembles, books and paintings and dishes and tent fittings; these undergird our forays into questions of commerce, competition, and empire. The workshop aims to intimate something of the texture of life of the artists, poets, architects and princely patrons who interacted on imperial book and building projects through the conceptual, and real, space of the "kitabkhana".

Sussan Babaie is Visiting Professor at the Institut für Kunstgeschichte, Ludwig Maximilian Universität, München. Lecturer in Asian Arts (appointment begins fall 2013) at The Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London.

1994 Ph.D. at New York University, Institute of Fine Arts: Doctoral exams in Renaissance (North-South exchanges). Dissertation in Islamic art: "Safavid Palaces at Isfahan; Continuity and Change (1590-1666)"; 1985 M.A. at New York University, Institute of Fine Arts: Renaissance art and architecture; 1983 M.A. at American University, Washington DC, Art Department: Italian Renaissance art and American art.

Teaching: 2011-2012 Visiting Professor at the Institut für Kunstgeschichte, Ludwig-Maximilian Universität, München; 2010-2011 Allianz Visiting Professor at the Institut für Kunstgeschichte, Ludwig-Maximilian Universität, München; Feb-Apr 2011 Visiting Professor at the School of Art and Art History, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida; 2001-2008 Assistant Professor at the Department of the History of Art, University of Michigan; 2006-2008 Unbudgeted appointment at the School of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Michigan.

AWARDS and GRANTS: 2012-13 National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for book project "Architectural Cosmopolitanism in the Middle East: Houses of 17th-Century Aleppo and Isfahan"; 2011 Tom and Patricia Kennedy Residential Fellowship at the School of Art and Art History, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida.

Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz - Max-Planck-Institut
Palazzo Grifoni - Seminarraum
Via dei Servi 51
50122 Firenze


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