Arts of the City Victorious Islamic Art and Architecture in Fatimid North Africa and Egypt Jonathan M. Bloom

Publication date:
25 Jan 2008
Yale University Press
256 pages: 279 x 216mm
100 b-w + 50 color illus.
Sales territories:


Arts of the City Victorious is the first book-length study of the art and architecture of the Fatimids, the Ismaili Shi'i dynasty that ruled in North Africa and Egypt from 909 to 1171. The Fatimids are most famous for founding the city of al-Qahira (whence the name Cairo) in 969, and their art - particularly textiles and lustre ceramics, but also metalwork and carved rock-crystal, ivory and woodwork - has been admired for nearly a millennium. Initially brought home to Europe by merchants and Crusaders and then preserved as relics and reliquaries in church treasuries, Fatimid art is still prized today by collectors and curators for its strongly figural imagery, and its elegant and inventive use of Arabic calligraphy, particularly the angular 'Kufic' script. Surviving examples of Fatimid art and architecture are supplemented by an unusual wealth of medieval sources that provide written evidence for the rich visual culture shared among the Muslim, Christian and Jewish inhabitants of the Fatimid realm.

In this engaging and accessible study, Jonathan Bloom concentrates on securely dated and localized examples of Fatimid art and architecture. His discussions focus on significant examples and are illustrated with over 100 photographs, many in colour, while extensive notes and bibliography provide guidance for further reading and research. As a comprehensive treatment of all the arts of a single, major dynasty, this book offers something of interest to all scholars and admirers of Islamic art and architecture.

Jonathan Bloom shares both the Norma Jean Calderwood University Professorship of Islamic and Asian Art at Boston College and the Chair of Islamic Art at the Virginia Commonwealth University with his wife, Sheila Blair. He is the author of the award-winning book, Paper Before Print, as well as co-author of Islam: A Thousand Years of Faith and Power and The Art and Architecture of Islam, published by Yale University Press.

"Well-written, well-balanced and witty... Bloom has written a wonderful in-depth and simultaneously highly readable book... It opens up new horizons and encourages the reader to go and pursue further studies in the arts of this period... highly recommendable to students and a general audience alike."—Luitgard Mols, BIOR No.LXVIII3-4