Conference “Stucco Decoration in the Architecture of Iran and Neighbouring Lands: New Research – New Horizons” — University of Bamberg, 4-7 May 2022

Stucco in the Architecture of Iran and Neighbouring Lands: New Research – New Horizons

A conference hosted by the University of Bamberg Islamic Art and Archaeology, Institute of Oriental Studies

Venue: Schillerplatz 17, 96049 Bamberg

 

Wed 4 May 2022              Location: Dominican Library Hall

18:00     Welcome address – Opening (L. Korn),  Refreshments  

                          

Thu 5 May 2022                Location: Institute of Oriental Studies, Room 00.13

09:00     Conference Registration             

09:30     Opening Remarks (L. Korn)        

10:00-12:00  Panel 1: Research of Persianate Stuccos: Past, Present and Future – Chair: Lorenz Korn

  •  Renata Holod:  Recovering Rayy: Erich Schmidt’s Excavations at Rayy, Iran, and their contribution to the Study of the Material Culture of Medieval Iran
  •  Barbara Finster: Medieval stucco decorations in Yemen
  •  Sheila Blair: Stucco workers, luster potters and builders: the case of Hasan ibn ʿAli ibn Ahmad ibn Babawayh al-Vidguli
  •  Yves Porter and Anais Leone: Stucco vs Luster in Ilkhanid Iran

12:00     Lunch Break      

13:30-15:30 Panel 2: Pre-Islamic to Saljuq Periods – Chair: Ana Marija Grbanovic

  •  Meysam Labbaf-Khaniki and Atefe Shekofte: Identification and Technical Examination of the Stucco Decorations from Bazeh-Hur in North-Eastern Iran
  •  Niloufar Ehteshami: Continuuity or Discontinuity in stucco motifs from Sasanian to the Early-Islamic periods: finds from the Jahangir and Gowriyeh Sites in Ilam, Iran
  •  Maryam Moeini: Some little-known pre-Ilkhanid architectural revetments from the Friday mosque of Tabriz
  •  Iman Aghajani: The Development of the Stucco Decoration during the Early Seljuq Period in Iran

15:30     Coffee Break    

16:00-18:00 Panel 3: Western Boundaries – Chair: Parviz Holakooei

  •  Simone Struth: ‘Like the pearl-bright star’ – Abbasid stucco material from Samarra
  •  Andrea Luigi Corsi: Beyond the ‘Samarra Styles’: Reconsidering the 10th-century Stuccowork in Deir al-Surian as a Reflection of Post-Samarra Mesopotamian Stucco Production
  •  Robert Hillenbrand: Iranian Saljuq stucco in Anatolia
  •  Bernard O’Kane: Mamluk stuccos – the Iranian Connection?

18:30     Visit to the University of Bamberg Museum of Islamic Art (the Bumiller Collection)

 

Fri 6 May 2022             Location: Institute of Oriental Studies, Room 00.13

09:00-10:30 Panel 4: Ilkhanid Stuccos  – Chair: Iman Aghajani

  • Ana Marija Grbanovic: Patterns and Constellations of Ilkhanid Stucco Production
  •  Bahareh Taghavinejad: Some Pieces of Evidence of the Personal Style of Damghanian Artists in the Stucco Decorations of the Ceiling of Sofeh Darvish in Isfahan Grand Mosque
  •  Elaheh Alvandiyan: Introduction and recognition of stucco technique of the tomb of Seyyed Roknuddin Yazd

10:30     Coffee Break    

11:00-13:00 Panel 5: Techniques and Archaeometry – Chair: Lorenz Korn

  •  Parviz Holakooei and Amir Hossein Karimy: Blue ‘Out of the Blue’: Scientific Studies on the Blue Pigments Applied on Persian Stuccos
  •  Moslem Mishmastnehi and Tomasz Stawski: Crystals of Gypsum in Hands of Masters: Interdisciplinary approach to understand the Chaîne opératoire of Seljuk and Ilkhanid Stuccoes
  •  Marco Brambilla: Pre-fabricated stucco decorations in Sultaniyy
  •  Stefan Masarovic: Material Examination of five Seljuk and Muzafarrid Carved Architectural Decoration Stucco Segments: 3 monumental figurative panels and 2 further objects                 preserved at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha

13:00     Lunch Break      

14:30-16:30 Panel 6: Eastern Boundaries – Chair: Moslem Mishmastnehi

  • Viola Allegranzi and Sandra Aube: Stuccoes of the Noh Gonbad mosque in Balkh
  • Ruslan Muradov: Restoration of the Mihrab of the Mashhad-Ata Mosque in Medieval Dahistan
  •  Richard McClary: The Qarakhanid Stucco Decoration in the Shah Fazil Tomb at Safid Buland,Kyrgyzstan: A Unicum in Context
  • Valentina Laviola: Ghazni Stuccoes. From an Old Excavation to a Synergic Study of the Architectural Decoration of the Ghaznavid Palace

16:30     Coffee Break    

17:00-18:30 Panel 7: New Ideas and Approaches – Chair: Sheila Blair

  • Ruba Kanaan: Matter, mode, and making: stucco in the legal texts of Iran and Central Asia (11th-13th c.)
  • Katherine Hughes: The fabric of the building: The ecology of Samanid stucco ornament and non-representational haptic space
  • Giuseppe Labisi: Stucco Decoration in Semi-Domes Squinches. Sasanian Architectural Heritage within Early Islamic Architecture

19:00     Dinner 

                             

Sat 7 May 2022                 Location: Institute of Oriental Studies, Room 00.13

09:30-11:30 Panel 8: Conservation and Preservation of Stuccos – Chair: Amir Hossein Karimy

  •  Rosario Paone: Esfahan, IsMEO restorations of stucco and plaster in the seventies
  •  Hamed Sayyadshahri and Mohammad Mortazavi: Reconstruction of Missing Parts of the Stucco Decorations: Some Restoration Experiences
  •  Yaser Hamzavi: The contemporary challenge for conservators to preserve creative stuccoes from the past: Molded stucco of the tomb of Sayyid Rukn al-Din and Sayyid Shams al-Dinin Yazd
  •  Majid Montazer Zohouri and Iman Aghajani: Archaeological Studies on Islamic Stucco Decorations in the Storage of National Museum of Iran

11:30     Coffee Break    

12:00     Final Discussion and Closing Remarks                Moderator: Lorenz Korn – Discussants: N.N.

13:00     Lunch Break      

                              

In the afternoon: Excursion to historical monuments with stucco decoration, either in the old city of Bamberg or at Kloster Banz and Vierzehnheiligen

                              

     Islamic Stucco as an object of scientific research

Stucco, as one of the most widespread media of decoration throughout the history of architecture, has received increasing interest over the last few years. Before, stucco in the eastern Islamic sphere was studied sporadically, and its scholarly perception has been impacted by numerous disciplinary and methodological divides. The division between research on the pre-Islamic and Islamic periods implied that pre-Islamic stuccos were considered as products of a separate period, or at best as forerunners of a technology of architectural decoration that fully flourished in Islamic times. The wider interest in early Islamic stuccos was frequently limited to objects from the Abbasid caliphal residence of Raqqa or Samarra, whereas early stuccos from other regions remained little known, or were viewed as the mostly dependant from the Mesopotamian sites. However, a recent series of research projects in stucco decorations has begun to change the situation. As materials from older fieldwork are being re- examined and new materials are appearing (e.g. from the excavations at Balkh and Ghazni), new questions have been raised. Accompanied by some revised attributions and re-groupings, the new interest in stucco is apt to open a wider field of aesthetics that connects architecture with the arts of the object, and in which established boundaries are being questioned. For example, the Mongol invasion to Persia from 1220 onwards, commonly understood as causing a major break in the history of Islamic Art, appears as a moment of transition when looking at the forms, techniques of stucco decoration.

In the traditional approach by Historians of Islamic Art, stucco decoration was assessed by its style – the characteristics of visual appearance and ornamental iconography. Stuccos have been viewed as works of different regional schools, and in parallel, differences in their production methods, more exact dating or detailed observations of their craftsmanship, which could lead to more comprehensive understanding, have been overlooked. Over the last few years, aspects of production technology have received more attention. For example, it seems now generally accepted that the majority of Islamic stuccos were originally brightly coloured, even if this is rarely addressed. However, researchers are only beginning to find out what techniques the craftsmen exactly used, and how the stuccos actually looked in their intended colouring.

Perception of stucco as a craft, rather than art, and the near-absence of stucco from museum collections, had rendered it a subject less worthy of discussion. Access to monuments and stuccos in the Middle East is sometimes challenging, particularly for international researchers. More recently, the subject has seen a revived interest, by the means of thorough monument documentation and their art historic discussion. Preliminary archaeometric research for material characterization of the stucco body and of colouring, and a better understanding of their production have begun to emerge. Two recent conferences on stucco in the Islamic world, held at the University of Kashan in April 2017 and organized by the Institute of Iranian Studies of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (online) in January 2021, have been indicative of this development.

Research Project “Stucco and Tiles…” at Bamberg University

In order to contribute to the field, a research group in Islamic Art and Archaeology at the University of Bamberg is conducting a DFG-funded project, dedicated to art historical and archaeometric aspects of 11-14th century stuccos in Iran. We decided to organize a conference dedicated to the subject, in order to generate further scholarly interaction and to communicate the latest research finds and innovative methodology for research of stuccos. Traditional disciplinary confines will be transcended by inclusion of experts from different fields into the conference. Furthermore, dynastic, temporary and geographical boundaries will be tackled. The edited volume, based on the papers presented at the conference, is intended to disseminate these research finds to the wider scholarly audience of, not only, the field of Islamic Art and Archaeology, but also for disciplines such as History, Sociology, Anthropology and Cultural Heritage Preservation.

More information: here

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