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Christian-Islamic Encounters on Thirteenth-Century Ayyubid Metalwork: Local Culture, Authenticity, and Memory

Eva R. Hoffman
Gesta
Vol. 43, No. 2 (2004), pp. 129-142
DOI: 10.2307/25067100
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25067100
Page Count: 14
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Christian-Islamic Encounters on Thirteenth-Century Ayyubid Metalwork: Local Culture, Authenticity, and Memory
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Abstract

This paper explores a multilayered Christian-Islamic encounter that is inscribed on a group of celebrated and well-studied Ayyubid silver-inlaid metalwork objects with Christian themes, made in Syria and Egypt between the late 1230s and the 1250s. Studies have demonstrated the possibility of an extraordinary range of patronage and functions for these works. Indeed, the success of these works depended on their connection to a variety of Christian and Muslim audiences and on readings from various Christian and Muslim perspectives. This article explores, further, these multiple readings, highlighting the centrality of local culture in the production and reception of objects. A fully shared local visual culture explains the interchangeability of Christian and non-Christian motifs on these pieces of metalwork, with indigenous Christians and Muslims as participants and inhabitants of the same visual culture. The consideration of local identity for these objects also informs their Crusader patronage and reception. For the Crusaders, these works carried the imprimatur of authenticity and helped to shape the memory of their experience in the Holy Land.

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