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Unit Seven: Trade and Artistic Exchange

Elephant-shaped drinking vessel (kendi)

Elephant-shaped drinking vessel (kendi  ), second quarter of the 17th century. Iran, probably Kirman

The role of trade, diplomacy, and cultural interconnections is crucial to understanding works of art produced in the Islamic world. The fluid movement of artists and luxury objects among eastern and western Asia and Europe led to the cross-fertilization of motifs, designs, materials, and production techniques. The existence of a network of trading posts and routes throughout this vast geographic region facilitated long-distance communication, the transmission of ideas, and the emergence of a global culture. The chapters in this unit highlight artistic relationships between China and the Near East and those between Venice and the Islamic world.

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