In a memorable passage from his seminal 2003 essay “What Should One Know about Islamic Art?” the late Oleg Grabar reminds readers of “that true but rarely acknowledged fact that the Islamic world is the only cultural entity in the history of mankind to have borders or boundaries with almost all the cultural entities known before 1492.”1 The products of successive Islamic polities that circulated around the world from the seemingly provincial urban centers in the Hejaz have long been of interest to scholars and students of world history. Throughout the second half of the first millennium, Islamic cultures—increasingly varied, complex, and heterogeneous—were dominant in large geographic...

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