The Art of Calligraphy and Illumination in Konya, 1270s–1330s

Dr Cailah Jackson
Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Scholarship concerning the cultural and artistic landscapes of medieval Anatolia has made encouraging progress in recent years. Published research to date, however, has not fully addressed the production of the Islamic arts of the book in this period. Several illuminated manuscripts remain from the late thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Many of these are richly decorated and contain important details concerning the people who commissioned and produced them. However, this material remains relatively neglected in broader surveys of Islamic art. This lecture will address this gap in scholarship by discussing several illuminated manuscripts produced in Konya (present-day central Turkey) between 1278 and 1332. Consisting mainly of works by the Mevlevi Sufis, Jalal al-Din Rumi and Sultan Walad, most of this material has not been published in detail or studied within a broader cultural framework. The talk will outline the diverse decorative features of these manuscripts, focusing particularly on calligraphy and illumination. It will demonstrate that Konya – despite frequent outbreaks of violence – possessed an active artistic scene that was populated by Seljuk bureaucrats, Mevlevi dervishes, converts from Christianity and Turkmen princes.


Dr Cailah Jackson is a Junior Research Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies. Her research focuses on the medieval arts of the book of the central and eastern Islamic lands. Cailah gained her DPhil from the University of Oxford in 2017 and is the recipient of several awards including the 2018 Leigh Douglas Memorial Dissertation Prize, given by the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies. She is the author of the forthcoming book, Islamic Manuscripts of Late Medieval Rūm, 1270s–1370s: Production, Patronage and the Arts of the Book (Edinburgh University Press) and several articles on manuscript production in medieval Anatolia.

(Seminars start at 5.00 p.m.)