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Past Event

Saturday University: The Art and Culture of Herat Afghanistan in the Late 15th Century

Sat Mar 25 2017

Asian Art Museum


10 AM – 11:30 AM

A majority of the world’s Muslim population lives in Asia. This is an opportune time to explore diversity among their communities. The series provides historical, cultural, and contemporary perspectives on Islam and the arts, from Central Asia to Indonesia.

The Art and Culture of Herat Afghanistan in the Late 15th Century: Master of Calligraphers Sultan ‘Ali Mashhadi
David Roxburgh, Harvard University
Seattle University, Pigott Auditorium (PIGT)

Sultan ‘Ali Mashhadi (d. 1520) became the leading master of the hanging cursive script nasta'liq in the city of Herat during the last decades of the 15th century. Many critics regarded his achievement in the calligraphic arts as superlative to all of his predecessors and one that could never be surpassed. The artistic and cultural life of Herat, formed and pursued by a “galaxy" of poets, calligraphers, and artists, was sustained by elite patrons—the likes of ruler Sultan Husayn (d. 1506) and his foster brother Mir Ali Shir (d. 1501)—and produced a remarkable corpus of objects that can be elucidated through an equally rich collection of texts that includes histories and biographies. The lecture introduces the art and culture of Herat through Sultan 'Ali Mashhadi and explores his relationships with his peers, both artists and patrons.

About the Presenter

David Roxburgh is the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Professor of Islamic Art History at Harvard University. His books include Prefacing the Image: The Writing of Art History in Sixteenth-Century Iran (2001) and The Persian Album, 1400–1600 (2005). He has also worked as a curator on the exhibitions Turks: A Journey of A Thousand Years (London, Royal Academy of Art, 2005) and Traces of the Calligrapher: Islamic Calligraphy in Practice, c. 1600–1900 (Houston, Museum of Fine Arts, 2007).

Saturday University is hosted by Seattle University. Held in partnership with the University of Washington Jackson School of International Studies and Elliott Bay Book Company.


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MAR 25

The Art and Culture of Herat Afghanistan in the Late 15th Century: Master of Calligraphers Sultan ‘Ali Mashhadi


Artist Naiza Khan in Dialogue



Individual lecture tickets available at the door only: $10, SAM members $5
Please arrive to your seat 10 minutes before the program starts, or your seat may be released.

Image: Illuminated text (recto); Calligraphic Composition (verso), folio from an album of calligraphy, left-hand side of a bifolio, c. 1500–1520, Sultan Ali Mashhadi, Persian, fl. 1453–1519, Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper, 30.16 x 20.16 cm (11 7/8 x 7 15/16 in.), Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of John Goelet.