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Orientalism and Crusader Art: Constructing a New Caanon

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This article argues that we need to question the Orientalist ideology that draws boundaries between the study of crusader art and that of the neighboring Muslim states. Two unusual Ayyubid glass beakers, now in the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore, are shown to contain Christian images. These images are placed within a landscape showcasing the major monuments in Jerusalem: the Dome of the Rock, the Holy Sepulchre, and the Tower of David, to highlight the significance of the sites for the viewer/patron. When these two beakers are compared with rnetalwork made in an Islamic style but depicting Christian scenes, it becomes clear that they were not as rare as we may think. Indeed, they prompt us to rethink our preconsumptions about daily life in the crusader kingdoms and to reassess the workings of the multiethnic market spaces of the Levant. The beakers may have served a foreign clicntele, but most probably were made for local Christian communities. Furthermore, these pieces allow us to study the processes of transference of tastes and techniques to the West.

Affiliations: 1: Yale University


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