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Safavid Courtiers Leading Georgian Captives

Safavid Courtiers Leading Georgian Captives

mille-fleurs motif
Safavid dynasty

I have erased the beginning of this post. It contained information on an event of extreme cruelty that led to severe losses and still causes episodes of disabling fatigue and life-threatening anxiety. During such episodes, I cannot write or look after myself properly. My blog suffers. It’s a short post.


A Seated Scribe by Gentile Bellini, (Isabella Stewart Gardner Collection)



However, I have done more investigative work on Muslims, Armenians and the concept of nationhood. Religion is a factor in nationhood, but it is not as significant as the use of a common language. Even in the Islamic world, countries accepted plurality. The millet system is a proof of religious tolerance. For instance, in the case of the genocide of Armenians, the Ottomans feared Armenians would enter into an alliance with Christian Russia.

Nationhood is rooted in several factors, but langage overrides faith. State and speech is a product of the Renaissance and a result of Johannes Gutenberg‘s invention, in 1439, of the movable type printing press. Constantinople was defeated in 1453 and its Greek scholars fled to Italy carrying books. The printing press had just been invented when Byzantine scholars inaugurated the Renaissance. Literacy spread, creating a middle class, and it brought the validation of the vernacular, and the writing of songs in the mother tongue, or madrigals, but polyphonic, mixing voices. This is a subject we have covered, but not in the context of nationhood and nationalism.

A colleague told me about the Bellini knot, so I looked at the Metropolitan’s collection and found four Bellini rugs. I also found a Safavid dynasty tapestry or rug featuring the mille-fleurs motif. Keeping fabrics in good condition is difficult. Flanders may therefore have influenced the East. The Franco-Flemish lands were the cultural hub of ‘Europe’ before the Renaissance, in music especially, but tapestries and rugs were made in Flanders, as well as the illuminations of Books of Hours and other illuminated manuscripts. There were exchanges.


Venice and the Islamic World, 828 – 1797: Bellini carpets

Particularly interesting is the position of Venice. It was very close to the Ottoman Empire. Trading led to use the of a lingua franca. A simplified Italian was the lingua franca when Bellini travelled to Constantinople. In 2007, the Metropolitan had an exhibition on Venice and the Islamic World, 828 – 1797.

I will close here, but this discussion will be continued.

Love to everyone.

Aram Khachaturian
David Oïstrakh plays Khachaturian’s Violin Concerto, mvt 1


© Micheline Walker
5 October 2016