THE PUBLIC FIGURE:
Political Iconography in Medieval Mesopotamia
Estelle J Whelan

The region known as al-Jazirah comprises today much of northern Iraq and south eastern Turkey. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, up to the period of the Mongol invasions, this area of northern Mesopotamia was the setting in its major cities for a flourishing material culture. Situated on the great traditional trade routes between the Middle East and Europe a central component of this culture evolved around the development of public figural imagery. An impetus for this development was the perceived need for political iconography with the coming to power throughout the region of a group of Turkish dynasties where each needed to establish itself and enhance its image, legitimacy and authority. This was particularly reflected in those traditional cynosures of Islamic hegemony: coinage and architecture.
Two large sections of this unrivalled and detailed work contain extensively researched material considering numismatic and architectural details. These sections describe and investigate the iconography employed with special attention to sources of the various images, their precedents and use in related disciplines. Over 300 pages are devoted to numismatics with original inscriptions and images, and there are over 100 pages discussing architectural decoration, epigraphy and the iconography employed. Furthermore, the historical context of the major dynasties involved is discussed with genealogical charts. The work is supported by an extensive bibliography.

Estelle Whelan (1936-1997) studied history, political science, and economics at Oberlin College and fine art at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, where she subsequently obtained her PhD.
In 1982-83 she was a Fellow at the American Research Center in Egypt and from 1983-86 was Kress Foundation Fellow at Trinity College, Dublin, when she also conducted research at The Chester Beatty Library.
She also taught Islamic Art at the Institute of Fine Arts and Washington Square College, New York University, the University of California, Los Angeles, and Hunter College, City University of New York.

October 2006
260 x 200mm; 496 pages; many illustrations, map; hardback; £60.00
ISBN (10 digit) 1 901764 44 3/(13 digit) 978 1 901764 44 4


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