Umayyad Self-Representation

Garth Fowden

in Qusayr 'Amra

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 2004 | ISBN: 9780520236653
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520929609 | DOI:
Umayyad Self-Representation

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It seems legitimate to enquire what the court taste of which Quṣayr 'Amra is a typical example can tell us about the broader cultural identity and aspirations of the Umayyad elite and, to the extent that that elite was representative, of the Arab conquerors generally. The eye of the student of Quṣayr 'Amra is caught especially by the art of Coptic Egypt. Evidence for Sasanian art being as deficient as that for Coptic is abundant; the Iranian element at Quṣayr 'Amra is correspondingly elusive. It is true that art produced under the Umayyads outside Syria might be less eclectic. Umayyad art often seems awkward and ill digested; yet there is a chemistry, however wild, between its elements. The thematic abundance of Quṣayr 'Amra's paintings may be in part a meditation on precisely this cultural encounter and economic conjuncture.

Keywords: Quṣayr 'Amra; Umayyad; Coptic Egypt; cultural identity; Syria; paintings

Chapter.  14850 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Greek and Roman Archaeology

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