The Medieval period

This period saw the Crusades, the Mongol invasions, and the rise of the powerful Timurid empire.

c. 900 - 1517 C.E.

videos + essays

We're adding new content all the time!

Mamluk bindings
Mamluk bindings

Book bindings made in Egypt and Syria during the reign of the Mamluk Sultanate represent the pinnacle of Islamic book design.

Aleppo
Aleppo

Located at the crossroads of several trade routes from the 2nd millennium B.C., Aleppo was ruled successively by the Hittites, Assyrians, Arabs, Mongols, Mamelukes and Ottomans

Khalaf, <em>Pyxis</em>
Khalaf, Pyxis

he exquisite, lidded container is sculpted out of ivory and dated to the mid-10th century during the reign of the Umayyad dynasty in Spain.

Conservation: The Nasrid plasterwork collection at the V&A
Conservation: The Nasrid plasterwork collection at the V&A

A conservator at the V&A discusses new discoveries that have uncovered new information on their materials, techniques, history and provenance

Folio from a <em>Shahnama</em>, The Bier of Iskandar (Alexander the Great)
Folio from a Shahnama, The Bier of Iskandar (Alexander the Great)

Alexander, the Mongols, and the great epic of Iran.

<em>Bahram Gur Fights the Karg (Horned Wolf)</em>
Bahram Gur Fights the Karg (Horned Wolf)

In this hunting scene from the Persian Book of Kings, the ruler Bahram lives up to his nickname “Gur,” or swift.

Mohammed ibn al-Zain, Basin (<em>Baptistère de Saint Louis</em>)
Mohammed ibn al-Zain, Basin (Baptistère de Saint Louis)

Vessels like this one were typically decorated with calligraphy, but a procession of figures is featured here.

Mihrab from Isfahan (Iran)
Mihrab from Isfahan (Iran)

This prayer niche once pointed students towards Mecca. Its blue and white patterns comprise verses from the Qur’an.

Two Royal Figures
Two Royal Figures

These stucco statues, with vivid costumes and distinctive round faces, may once have guarded a grand hall.

Coronation Mantle
Coronation Mantle

Made for a Christian ruler by Islamic artisans, this cloak is full of Islamic motifs and cosmological references.

Mamluk Qur’an
Mamluk Qur’an

The Islamic world turned writing into an art, but it’s the decoration, not the script, that sets these folios apart.

<em>Bahram Gur in a Peasant’s House</em>
Bahram Gur in a Peasant’s House

These two paintings illustrate the same story, but in different styles—as rulers changed, so did tastes for art.

Selected Contributors