A series of enigmatic ninth- or tenth-century wall paintings from Nishapur in eastern Iran seems to have been imbued with amuletic, apotropaic, or talismanic properties. Recapitulating while exaggerating some of the properties of marble, the paintings also include anthropomorphic and vegetal imagery. Their idiosyncratic iconography seems to highlight a tension between physis and technē that may be relevant to the ambiguous ontology of efficacious images in general.
Animal, Vegetal, and Mineral: Ambiguity and Efficacy in the Nishapur Wall Paintings
Finbarr Barry Flood is William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of the Humanities at the Institute of Fine Arts and Department of Art History, New York University. His publications include Objects of Translation: Material Culture and Medieval “Hindu-Muslim” Encounter (2009), which was awarded the 2011 Ananda K. Coomaraswamy Prize of the Association for Asian Studies. He is currently completing a major book project, provisionally entitled Islam and Image: Polemics, Theology, and Modernity. Other projects include a collaborative project entitled Object Histories: Flotsam as Early Globalism, for which he and Professor Beate Fricke, of UC Berkeley, have just been awarded an ACLS Collaborative Grant.
Finbarr B. Flood; Animal, Vegetal, and Mineral: Ambiguity and Efficacy in the Nishapur Wall Paintings. Representations 1 February 2016; 133 (1): 20–58. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/rep.2016.133.1.20
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