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Timurid Renaissance

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Timurid Renaissance
Registan square Samarkand.jpg
Three madrasas at the Registan city of Timurids
Date14th century - 16th century
LocationTimurid Empire (Central Asia and Persia)
ParticipantsTimurid dynasty (including Mughal dynasty[1])
Ottoman Empire[2]
Safavid Empire[2]

The Timurid Renaissance was a historical period in Asian and Islamic history spanning the late 14th, the 15th, and the early 16th centuries. Following the gradual downturn of the Islamic Golden Age, the Timurid Empire, based in Central Asia ruled by the Timurid dynasty, witnessed the revival of arts and sciences in the Muslim world. Its movement spread across the Muslim world and left profound impacts on late medieval and Early Modern Period Asia.[3] The French word renaissance means "rebirth", and defines a period as one of cultural revival. The use of the term for the description of this period has raised reservations among scholars, some of whom see it as a swan song of Timurid culture.[3][4]

The Timurid Renaissance was marked slightly earlier than the Renaissance movement in Europe.[5][6] Some have described it as equal in glory to the Italian Quattrocento.[4] The Timurid Renaissance reached its peak in the 15th century, after the end of the period of Mongol invasions and conquests.

Based on Islamic ideals,[7] the foundations of the Timurid Renaissance include the rebuilding of Samarkand and the invention of Tamerlane Chess by Timur, the reign of Shah Rukh and his consort Gawhar Shad in Herat (a city which rivaled Florence of the Italian Renaissance as the center of a cultural rebirth),[8][9] the period of the astronomer and mathematician Ulugh Begh (along with notable polymaths and Islamic scholars), and the construction of additional learning centers by the art patron Sultan Husayn Bayqara.[10] The Timur reign experienced revived interest in classical Persian art. Large-scale building projects were undertaken, creating mausoleums, madrasas, and kitabhane - medieval Islamic book workshops. Mathematical and astronomical studies were reinvigorated, and at the beginning of the 16th century, mastering firearms was achieved.

Major commissions from the Timur's lifetime were the Summer Palace in Shahrisabz, Bibi-Khanym Mosque, and the construction of the Registan.[11] The city of Herat became an important center of intellectual and artistic life in the Muslim world during this time.[11] Samarkand, a center of scholarly study which was previously destroyed during the Mongol conquest of Khwarezmia, became the center of the Renaissance and Islamic civilization in general due to the reconstruction during the period.[12]

The Timurid Renaissance differed from previous Buyid dynasty cultural and artistic developments in that it was not a direct revival of classical models, but rather a broadening of their cultural appeal by including more colloquial styles in Persian language. The Timurid Renaissance was inherited by Mughal India[13][14][15] and had significant influence on the other states of the Age of the Islamic Gunpowders (Ottoman Turkey and Safavid Iran).[16]

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Islamic Golden Age

Islamic Golden Age

The Islamic Golden Age was a period of cultural, economic, and scientific flourishing in the history of Islam, traditionally dated from the 8th century to the 14th century. This period is traditionally understood to have begun during the reign of the Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid with the inauguration of the House of Wisdom in Baghdad, the world's largest city by then, where Muslim scholars and polymaths from various parts of the world with different cultural backgrounds were mandated to gather and translate all of the known world's classical knowledge into Aramaic and Arabic.

Central Asia

Central Asia

Central Asia is a region of Asia that stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to western China and Mongolia in the east, and from Afghanistan and Iran in the south to Russia in the north. It includes the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, which are colloquially referred to as the "-stans" as the countries all have names ending with the Persian suffix "-stan", meaning "land of". Current geographical location of Central Asia was formerly part of the historic Turkistan also known as Turan.

Middle Ages

Middle Ages

In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late 5th to the late 15th centuries, similar to the post-classical period of global history. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire and transitioned into the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery. The Middle Ages is the middle period of the three traditional divisions of Western history: classical antiquity, the medieval period, and the modern period. The medieval period is itself subdivided into the Early, High, and Late Middle Ages.

Europe

Europe

Europe is a large peninsula conventionally considered a continent in its own right because of its great physical size and the weight of its history and traditions. Europe is also considered a subcontinent of Eurasia and it is located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere. Comprising the westernmost peninsulas of Eurasia, it shares the continental landmass of Afro-Eurasia with both Africa and Asia. It is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Mediterranean Sea to the south and Asia to the east. Europe is commonly considered to be separated from Asia by the watershed of the Ural Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian Sea, the Greater Caucasus, the Black Sea and the waterways of the Turkish Straits.

Mongol invasions and conquests

Mongol invasions and conquests

The Mongol invasions and conquests took place during the 13th and 14th centuries, creating history's largest contiguous empire: the Mongol Empire (1206-1368), which by 1300 covered large parts of Eurasia. Historians regard the Mongol devastation as one of the deadliest episodes in history. In addition, Mongol expeditions may have spread the bubonic plague across much of Eurasia, helping to spark the Black Death of the 14th century.

Gawhar Shad

Gawhar Shad

Gawhar Shad was the chief consort of Shah Rukh, the emperor of the Timurid Empire.

Herat

Herat

Herāt is an oasis city and the third-largest city of Afghanistan. In 2020, it had an estimated population of 574,276, and serves as the capital of Herat Province, situated south of the Paropamisus Mountains in the fertile valley of the Hari River in the western part of the country. An ancient civilization on the Silk Road between the Middle East, Central and South Asia, it serves as a regional hub in the country's west.

Florence

Florence

Florence is a city in Central Italy and the capital city of the Tuscany region. It is the most populated city in Tuscany, with 383,083 inhabitants in 2016, and over 1,520,000 in its metropolitan area.

Italian Renaissance

Italian Renaissance

The Italian Renaissance was a period in Italian history covering the 15th and 16th centuries. The period is known for the initial development of the broader Renaissance culture that spread across Europe and marked the transition from the Middle Ages to modernity. Proponents of a "long Renaissance" argue that it started around the year 1300 and lasted until about 1600. In some fields, a Proto-Renaissance, beginning around 1250, is typically accepted. The French word renaissance means 'rebirth', and defines the period as one of cultural revival and renewed interest in classical antiquity after the centuries during what Renaissance humanists labelled as the "Dark Ages". The Renaissance author Giorgio Vasari used the term rinascita 'rebirth' in his Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects in 1550, but the concept became widespread only in the 19th century, after the work of scholars such as Jules Michelet and Jacob Burckhardt.

Bibi-Khanym Mosque

Bibi-Khanym Mosque

The Bibi-Khanym Mosque is one of the most important monuments of Samarkand, Uzbekistan. In the 15th century, it was one of the largest and most magnificent mosques in the Islamic world. It is considered a masterpiece of the Timurid Renaissance. By the mid-20th century, only a grandiose ruin of it still survived, but major parts of the mosque were restored during the Soviet period.

Islamic culture

Islamic culture

Islamic culture and Muslim culture refer to cultural practices which are common to historically Islamic people. The early forms of Muslim culture, from the Rashidun Caliphate to the early Umayyad period and the early Abbasid period, were predominantly Arab, Byzantine, Persian and Levantine. With the rapid expansion of the Islamic empires, Muslim culture has influenced and assimilated much from the Persian, Egyptian, North Caucasian, Turkic, Mongol, Indian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Malay, Somali, Berber, Indonesian, and Moro cultures.

Buyid dynasty

Buyid dynasty

The Buyid dynasty, also spelled Buwayhid, was a Shia Iranian dynasty of Daylamite origin, which mainly ruled over Iraq and central and southern Iran from 934 to 1062. Coupled with the rise of other Iranian dynasties in the region, the approximate century of Buyid rule represents the period in Iranian history sometimes called the 'Iranian Intermezzo' since, after the Muslim conquest of Persia, it was an interlude between the rule of the Abbasid Caliphate and the Seljuk Empire.

History

Illustration from Jāmī's Rose Garden of the Pious, dated 1553.
Illustration from Jāmī's Rose Garden of the Pious, dated 1553.

The Timurid Empire was founded by Amir Tamerlane in 1370 after the conquest of several Ilkhanate successor states. After conquering a city, the Timurids commonly spared the lives of the local artisans and deported them to the Timurid capital of Samarkand. After the Timurids conquered Persia in the early 15th century, many Islamic artistic traits became interwoven with existing Mongol art. Timur's establishment of the Islamic Sharia law later in life made Samarkand one of the centers of Islamic art.[17] In the mid 15th century the empire moved its capital to Herat, which became a focal point for Timurid art. As with Samarkand, artisans and intellectuals of various ethnic backgrounds soon established Herat as a center for arts and culture. Soon, many of the Timurid cultural expressions became mixed with those of other traditions.[18]

Arts

Sultan Husayn Bayqara, a patron of art, constructed multiple centers of learning.
Sultan Husayn Bayqara, a patron of art, constructed multiple centers of learning.

Timurid art absorbed and improved upon the traditional Persian concept of the "Arts of the Book". The new, Timurid-inflected works of art saw illustrated paper (as opposed to parchment) manuscripts produced by the empire's artists. These illustrations were notable for their rich colors and elaborate designs.[19] Due to the quality of the miniature paintings found in these manuscripts, archaeologist and art historian Suzan Yalman of the Metropolitan Museum of Art[20] noted that "the Herat school [of manuscript painting] is often regarded as the apogee of Persian painting.[21] Timurid silver-inlaid steel is often being cited as being of particularly high quality. Painting was not limited to manuscripts, as many Timurid artists also created intricate wall paintings. Many of these wall paintings depicted landscapes derived from both Persian and Chinese artistic tradition.[22] While the subject matter of these paintings was borrowed from other cultures, Timurid wall paintings were eventually refined into their own, unique style.[23] Mongol artistic traditions were not entirely phased out, as the highly stylized depictions of human figures seen in 15th century Timurid art are derived from this culture.[24]

Sultan Husayn Bayqara reign saw a further rise in the arts. He was renowned as a benefactor and patron of learning in his kingdom.[25] Sultan Husayn built numerous structures including a famous school. He has been described as "the quintessential Timurid ruler of the later period in Transoxiana" and his sophisticated court and generous artistic patronage was a source of admiration, particularly from his cousin, Babur of Mughal India.

Timurid architecture

Timurid architecture drew on the aspects of the Seljuk architecture. Turquoise and blue tiles forming intricate linear and geometric patterns decorated the facades of buildings. Sometimes the interior was decorated similarly, with painting and stucco relief further enriching the effect.[26] Timurid architecture is the pinnacle of Islamic art in Central Asia. Spectacular and stately edifices erected by Tamerlane and his successors in Samarkand and Herat helped to disseminate the influence of the Ilkhanid school of art in India, thus giving rise to the celebrated Mughal (or Mongol) school of architecture. Timurid architecture started with the sanctuary of Ahmed Yasawi in present-day Kazakhstan and culminated in Timur's mausoleum Gur-e Amir in Samarkand. Timur's Gur-I Mir, the 14th-century mausoleum of the conqueror is covered with "turquoise Persian tiles".[27] Nearby, in the center of the ancient town, a "Persian style madrassa" (religious school)[27] and a "Persian style mosque"[27] by Ulugh Beg is observed. The mausoleum of Timurid princes, with their turquoise and blue-tiled domes remain among the most refined and exquisite Persian architecture.[28] Axial symmetry is a characteristic of all major Timurid structures, notably the Shāh-e Zenda in Samarkand, the Musallah complex in Herat, and the mosque of Gawhar Shad in Mashhad. Double domes of various shapes abound, and the outsides are perfused with brilliant colors. Timur's dominance of the region strengthened the influence of his capital and Persian architecture upon the Indian Subcontinent.[29]

Metalwork, ceramics, and carving

The Timurid Empire also produced quality pieces of metalwork. Steel, iron, brass, and bronze were commonly used as mediums.[21] Timurid silver-inlaid steel is often being cited as being of particularly high quality.[30] Following the collapse of the Timurid Empire, several Iranian and Mesopotamian cultures co-opted Timurid metalwork.[21]

Chinese-style ceramics were produced by Timurid artisans. Jade carving also had some presence in Timurid art.[22]

Science

Ulugh Beg and Ali Qushji in the observatory.
Ulugh Beg and Ali Qushji in the observatory.
Ulugh Beg Observatory and its Madrasah has been an important centre of astronomical study in Central Asia.
Ulugh Beg Observatory and its Madrasah has been an important centre of astronomical study in Central Asia.
Papers from Ali Qushji's scientific works.
Papers from Ali Qushji's scientific works.
Theorem of Al-Kashi
Theorem of Al-Kashi

Jamshid al-Kashi was one of the most influential contributors in the fields of mathematics and astronomy. He got immense support from both Emperor Shah Rukh and Queen Goharshad, who were very interested in the sciences and encouraged theirs court to study the various fields in great depth. Consequently, the period of their power became one of many scholarly achievements.

The rein of Sultan Ulugh Begh saw the scientific peak of the empire. During his rule, al-Kashi produced sine tables to four sexagesimal digits (equivalent to eight decimal places) of accuracy for each degree and includes differences for each minute. He also produced tables dealing with transformations between coordinate systems on the celestial sphere, such as the transformation from the ecliptic coordinate system to the equatorial coordinate system.[31] The Sullam al-Sama was authored, which provided the resolution of difficulties met by predecessors in the determination of distances and sizes of heavenly bodies such as the Earth, the Moon, the Sun and the Stars. The Treatise on Astronomical Observational Instruments was also written which described a variety of different instruments, including the triquetrum and armillary sphere, the equinoctial armillary and solsticial armillary of Mo'ayyeduddin Urdi, the sine and versine instrument of Urdi, the sextant of al-Khujandi, the Fakhri sextant at the Samarqand observatory, a double quadrant Azimuth-altitude instrument he invented, and a small armillary sphere incorporating an alhidade which he invented.[32]

The invention of the Plate of Conjunctions was seen, an analog computing instrument used to determine the time of day at which planetary conjunctions will occur,[33] and for performing linear interpolation.[34] Invented was also a mechanical planetary computer which he called the Plate of Zones, which could graphically solve a number of planetary problems, including the prediction of the true positions in longitude of the Sun and Moon,[34] and the planets in terms of elliptical orbits;[35] the latitudes of the Sun, Moon, and planets; and the ecliptic of the Sun. The instrument also incorporated an alhidade and ruler.[36]

Ulugh Begh founded an institute in Samarkand which soon became a prominent university. Students from all over Central Asia, and beyond, flocked to this academy in the capital city of his sultanate. Consequently, Ulugh Beg gathered many great mathematicians and scientists, including Ali Qushji. Ali made significant development of astronomical physics independent from natural philosophy, and for providing empirical evidence for the Earth's rotation in his treatise, Concerning the Supposed Dependence of Astronomy upon Philosophy. In addition to his contributions to Ulugh Beg's famous work Zij-i-Sultani and to the founding of Sahn-ı Seman Medrese, one of the first centers for the study of various traditional Islamic sciences in the Ottoman caliphate, Ali Kuşçu was also the author of several scientific works and textbooks on astronomy.[37] Qushji's most important astronomical work is Concerning the Supposed Dependence of Astronomy upon Philosophy. Under the influence of Islamic theologians who opposed the interference of Aristotelianism in astronomy, Qushji rejected Aristotelian physics and completely separated natural philosophy from Islamic astronomy, allowing astronomy to become a purely empirical and mathematical science. This allowed him to explore alternatives to the Aristotelian notion of a stationary Earth, as he explored the idea of a moving Earth instead (though Emilie Savage-Smith asserts that no Islamic astronomers proposed a heliocentric universe[38]). He also found empirical evidence for the Earth's rotation through his observation on comets and concluded, on the basis of empirical evidence rather than speculative philosophy, that the moving Earth theory is just as likely to be true as the stationary Earth theory.[39][40][41]

Legacy

Following the decline of the Timurid Empire in the late 15th century, the Gunpowder empires, which were the Ottomans, Safavid dynasty, Mughal India and other empires co-opted Timurid artistic traditions into their own.[42][20]

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Jami

Jami

Nūr ad-Dīn 'Abd ar-Rahmān Jāmī, also known as Mawlanā Nūr al-Dīn 'Abd al-Rahmān or Abd-Al-Rahmān Nur-Al-Din Muhammad Dashti, or simply as Jami or Djāmī and in Turkey as Molla Cami, was a Persian Sunni poet who is known for his achievements as a prolific scholar and writer of mystical Sufi literature. He was primarily a prominent poet-theologian of the school of Ibn Arabi and a Khwājagānī Sũfī, recognized for his eloquence and for his analysis of the metaphysics of mercy. His most famous poetic works are Haft Awrang, Tuhfat al-Ahrar, Layla wa Majnun, Fatihat al-Shabab, Lawa'ih, Al-Durrah al-Fakhirah. Jami belonged to the Naqshbandi Sufi order.

Ilkhanate

Ilkhanate

The Ilkhanate, also spelled Il-khanate, known to the Mongols as Hülegü Ulus, was a khanate established from the southwestern sector of the Mongol Empire. The Ilkhanid realm, officially known as Iranzamin, was ruled by the Mongol House of Hulagu. Hulagu Khan, the son of Tolui and grandson of Genghis Khan, inherited the Middle Eastern part of the Mongol Empire after his brother Möngke Khan died in 1260. Its core territory lies in what is now part of the countries of Iran, Azerbaijan, and Turkey. At its greatest extent, the Ilkhanate also included parts of modern Iraq, Syria, Armenia, Georgia, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, part of modern Dagestan, and part of modern Tajikistan. Later Ilkhanate rulers, beginning with Ghazan in 1295, converted to Islam. In the 1330s, the Ilkhanate was ravaged by the Black Death. Its last khan Abu Sa'id died in 1335, after which the khanate disintegrated. The Ilkhanid rulers, although of non-Iranian origin, tried to advertise their authority by tying themselves to the Iranian past, and they recruited historians in order to present the Mongols as heirs to the Sasanians of pre-Islamic Iran.

Samarkand

Samarkand

Samarkand, also known as Samarqand, is a city in southeastern Uzbekistan and among the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Central Asia. There is evidence of human activity in the area of the city from the late Paleolithic Era. Though there is no direct evidence of when Samarkand was founded, several theories propose that it was founded between the 8th and 7th centuries BCE. Prospering from its location on the Silk Road between China and Europe, at times Samarkand was one of the largest cities of Central Asia. Most of the inhabitants of this city are native Persian-speakers and speak the Tajik Persian dialect. This city is one of the historical centers of the Tajik people in Central Asia, which in the past was one of the important cities of the great empires of Iran.

Law

Law

Law is a set of rules that are created and are enforceable by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior, with its precise definition a matter of longstanding debate. It has been variously described as a science and as the art of justice. State-enforced laws can be made by a group legislature or by a single legislator, resulting in statutes; by the executive through decrees and regulations; or established by judges through precedent, usually in common law jurisdictions. Private individuals may create legally binding contracts, including arbitration agreements that adopt alternative ways of resolving disputes to standard court litigation. The creation of laws themselves may be influenced by a constitution, written or tacit, and the rights encoded therein. The law shapes politics, economics, history and society in various ways and serves as a mediator of relations between people.

Islamic art

Islamic art

Islamic art is a part of Islamic culture and encompasses the visual arts produced since the 7th century CE by people who lived within territories inhabited or ruled by Muslim populations. Referring to characteristic traditions across a wide range of lands, periods, and genres, Islamic art is a concept used first by Western art historians since the late 19th century. Public Islamic art is traditionally non-representational, except for the widespread use of plant forms, usually in varieties of the spiralling arabesque. These are often combined with Islamic calligraphy, geometric patterns in styles that are typically found in a wide variety of media, from small objects in ceramic or metalwork to large decorative schemes in tiling on the outside and inside of large buildings, including mosques. Other forms of Islamic art include Islamic miniature painting, artefacts like Islamic glass or pottery, and textile arts, such as carpets and embroidery.

Herat

Herat

Herāt is an oasis city and the third-largest city of Afghanistan. In 2020, it had an estimated population of 574,276, and serves as the capital of Herat Province, situated south of the Paropamisus Mountains in the fertile valley of the Hari River in the western part of the country. An ancient civilization on the Silk Road between the Middle East, Central and South Asia, it serves as a regional hub in the country's west.

Paper

Paper

Paper is a thin sheet material produced by mechanically or chemically processing cellulose fibres derived from wood, rags, grasses or other vegetable sources in water, draining the water through fine mesh leaving the fibre evenly distributed on the surface, followed by pressing and drying. Although paper was originally made in single sheets by hand, almost all is now made on large machines—some making reels 10 metres wide, running at 2,000 metres per minute and up to 600,000 tonnes a year. It is a versatile material with many uses, including printing, painting, graphics, signage, design, packaging, decorating, writing, and cleaning. It may also be used as filter paper, wallpaper, book endpaper, conservation paper, laminated worktops, toilet tissue, or currency and security paper, or in a number of industrial and construction processes.

Parchment

Parchment

Parchment is a writing material made from specially prepared untanned skins of animals—primarily sheep, calves, and goats. It has been used as a writing medium for over two millennia. Vellum is a finer quality parchment made from the skins of young animals such as lambs and young calves.

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York City, colloquially "the Met", is the largest art museum in the Americas. Its permanent collection contains over two million works, divided among 17 curatorial departments. The main building at 1000 Fifth Avenue, along the Museum Mile on the eastern edge of Central Park on Manhattan's Upper East Side, is by area one of the world's largest art museums. A much smaller second location, The Cloisters at Fort Tryon Park in Upper Manhattan, contains an extensive collection of art, architecture, and artifacts from medieval Europe.

Inlay

Inlay

Inlay covers a range of techniques in sculpture and the decorative arts for inserting pieces of contrasting, often colored materials into depressions in a base object to form ornament or pictures that normally are flush with the matrix. A great range of materials have been used both for the base or matrix and for the inlays inserted into it. Inlay is commonly used in the production of decorative furniture, where pieces of colored wood, precious metals or even diamonds are inserted into the surface of the carcass using various matrices including clear coats and varnishes. Lutherie inlays are frequently used as decoration and marking on musical instruments, particularly the smaller strings.

Mural

Mural

A mural is any piece of graphic artwork that is painted or applied directly to a wall, ceiling or other permanent substrate. Mural techniques include fresco, mosaic, graffiti and marouflage.

Babur

Babur

Babur, born Mīrzā Zahīr ud-Dīn Muhammad, was the founder of the Mughal Empire in the Indian subcontinent. He was a descendant of Timur and Genghis Khan through his father and mother respectively. He was also given the posthumous name of Firdaws Makani.

Source: "Timurid Renaissance", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2022, November 28th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timurid_Renaissance.

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