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Carboni, Stefano, "Following the Stars: Images of the Zodiac in Islamic Art"

Posted By: TimMa
Carboni, Stefano, "Following the Stars: Images of the Zodiac in Islamic Art"

Carboni, Stefano, "Following the Stars: Images of the Zodiac in Islamic Art"
Publisher: Metropolitan Museum of Art | 1997 | ISBN: N/A | English | PDF | 48 pages | 6.66 Mb

The appearance and psychic allure of a spectacular comet have been much in the news of late. But a belief in the pull of celestial events on human affairs – shaping daily life, presaging beginnings and endings – has ancient roots.

This conviction was strong in the Islamic world centuries ago, when the study of the movement of planets and stars was gradually shifting from the hard-science realm of astronomy toward the popular, often mystical terrain of astrology.

Astrological emblems and diagrams were a natural subject for art, particularly for an audience already disposed to see Creation itself as a vast fabric of ornamental design. Within this model of the universe, the vision of the constellations as light-spangled patterns dancing through space made perfect sense.

The way in which such a concept was embodied in art is the theme of a small, carefully thought out exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art titled ''Following the Stars: Images of the Zodiac in Islamic Art.'' Organized by Stefano Carboni, assistant curator in the department of Islamic art, it includes 20 objects dating from the 12th to the 15th centuries. All but one piece are from the Met's collection.

As the show's modest catalogue suggests, written treatises on astrology were thick with arcane symbols that only initiates could fathom. But once translated into visual form, the same concepts became not only accessible but with a little creative tinkering here and there, richly poetic as well.

Carboni, Stefano, "Following the Stars: Images of the Zodiac in Islamic Art"