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Between East And West: The Wall Paintings Of Samarra And The Construction Of Abbasid Princely Culture

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Chapter Summary

This chapter grapples with questions concerning the development of the early Islamic palace and the ?princely cycle.? It focuses on the wall paintings of the ḥarīm in the palatine complex at Samarra, founded in 836 by the Abbasid caliph al-Muḥtasim. It also focuses on strategies for studying these paintings: first, on the position of the Samarra paintings in Abbasid art and second, on their broader implications for Abbasid art and their role in the formation of early Islamic art. The chapter reconsiders the dominance of Eastern trajectory and destabilizes altogether the East-West binary for the study of early Islamic art. It suggests a more holistic approach that engages East and West through a discourse of cultural exchange and the creation of a local Iraqi style. In this way, a far more integrated scenario of dynamic networks of interaction and connections will emerge, linking East and West, past and present.

Keywords: ḥarīm; Abbasid art; early Islamic palace; East-West binary; Eastern trajectory; Iraqi style; palatine complex; princely cycle; Samarra wall paintings



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