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Unit Six: From the City to the Steppe—Art Beyond the Royal Court

Dado panel, 10th century. Iran, Nishapur. Stucco; carved

Throughout the Islamic world, people from all walks of life bought, commissioned, and collected works of art. Artistic patronage by the non-ruling classes of society—such as merchants, nomads, scholars, and members of the wealthy urban elite—reflect the importance of art in daily life and the universal appeal of beautiful objects. The chapters in this unit explore the art of three disparate societies: medieval Nishapur, a mercantile city along the Silk Road; the nomadic Turkmen people of Central Asia; and the urban elite of eighteenth-century Damascus, a provincial center of the Ottoman empire.

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After reading this chapter, you will be able to identify how artifacts excavated in the medieval city of Nishapur (in present-day Iran) provide insight into the customs, activities, and environment of its residents.

Subject Areas: English Language Arts; Visual Arts; World History

After reading this chapter, you will be able to understand how a reception room from the house of an affluent family in eighteenth-century Damascus reflects the tastes, interests, and life of the urban elite in a provincial city of the Ottoman empire; and identify key features of this domestic interior and their cultural and artistic significance.

Subject Areas: Visual Arts; World History

After reading this chapter, you will be able to identify ways the art of the Turkmen people of Central Asia reflects nomadic life and understand the functional and symbolic role objects played in their lives.

Subject Areas: Visual Arts; World History

Unit Six Lesson Plans

Lesson Plan: Daily Life in Medieval Nishapur

Students will be able to recognize ways works of art reflect medieval Nishapur's status as an important center of trade; use visual evidence to support inferences; and apply an original two-dimensional design to a three-dimensional form (in alternative activity).

Lesson Plan: Domestic Life in Eighteenth-Century Damascus

Students will be able to understand how a reception room from the house of an affluent family in eighteenth-century Damascus reflects the tastes, interests, and life of the urban elite in a provincial city of the Ottoman empire; and recognize ways interiors from different time periods and places (including their own) reflect the personal tastes, interests, and values of their inhabitants.

Lesson Plan: The Nomads of Central Asia—Turkmen Traditions

Students will be able to identify ways art of the Turkmen people of Central Asia reflects nomadic life and understand the functional and symbolic role objects play in their lives.

Bowl with Arabic inscription

The lesson plan related to Daily Life in Medieval Nishapur features a tenth-century bowl.

The Damascus Room

The lesson plan related to Domestic Life in Eighteenth-Century Damascus features the Damascus Room.

Storage bag faces

The lesson plan related to The Nomads of Central Asia—Turkmen Traditions features wool storage bags.