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The Topkapi Scroll
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The Topkapi Scroll
Geometry and Ornament in Islamic Architecture
Gülru Necipoglu with an essay by Mohammad al-Asad

Getty Research Institute
412 pages, 13 3/8 x 11 inches
61 color and 277 b/w illustrations
ISBN 978-0-89236-335-3
hardcover, Out of Print  1995

"A bold and stimulating book that will long be a landmark in the Western study of Islamic culture."

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Since precious few architectural drawings and no theoretical treatises on architecture remain from the premodern Islamic world, the Timurid pattern scroll in the collection of the Topkapi Palace Museum Library is an exceedingly rich and valuable source of information. In the course of her in-depth analysis of this scroll dating from the late fifteenth or early sixteenth century, Gülru Necipoglu throws new light on the conceptualization, recording, and transmission of architectural design in the Islamic world between the tenth and sixteenth centuries. Her text has far-reaching implications for recent discussions on vision, subjectivity, and the semiotics of abstract representation. She also compares the Islamic understanding of geometry with that found in medieval Western art, making this book particularly valuable for all historians and critics of architecture.

The scroll, with its 114 individual geometric patterns for wall surfaces and vaulting, is reproduced entirely in color in this elegant, large-format volume. An extensive catalog includes illustrations showing the underlying geometries (in the form of incised "dead" drawings) from which the individual patterns are developed. An essay by Mohammad al-Asad discusses the geometry of the muqarnas and demonstrates by means of computer-generated images how one of the scroll's patterns could be used to design a three-dimensional vault.

Gülru Necipoglu is the Aga Khan Professor of Islamic Art and Architecture at Harvard University and the author of Architecture, Ceremonial, and Power: The Topkapi Palace in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries.

This title is out of print. Please look for it at your local library or used bookstores.

Series: Sketchbooks & Albums