In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful
Art of the Mamluks
Art Of The Mamluks, by Dr. Esin Atil, published by the Smithsonian Press.
Historical Summary: Mamluk Empire (1250 - 1517 AD)
Following the Ayyubid state in 1250 AD, the Mamluk sultans established a formidable
empire, ruling Egypt, Syria, and Palestine for more than two hundred and fifty years,
their frontiers extending from southeatern Anatolia to the Hijaz and incorporating parts
of Sudan and Libya. Soon after coming to power, they defeated the mongols and explled the
last of the Crusaders from the Near East. Trade and agriculture flourshied under Mamluk
rule, and Cairo, their capital, became one of the wealthiest cities in the Near East and
the center of artistic and intellectual activity. It also became the seat of the caliphate
and, thus, the most prestegious capital in the Islamic world.
The exquiste illuminations, calligraphy, and bindings of Mamluk Korans
are unequaled in any other Islamic tradition of bookmaking. The technical and artistic
virtousity found in these manuscipts is representative of the Mamluks, who, embracing
Islam with the fervor of converts, endowed elaborate religious complexes and supplied each
major foundation with its set of Korans.
The art of the Mamluks is possibly best known for the cration of
spectacular metalwork, examples of which are among the most cherished possessions of many
public and private collections around the world.