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The Unicorn
Richard Ettinghausen
Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1950; Series: Studies in Muslim Iconography (Freer Gallery of Art Occasional Papers, 1:3)

"It is generally acknowledged that Islamic art is an art of decoration; yet we have to admit that so far hardly any Mussources have been tapped which explain the meaning and mental associations of these decorative schemes. We do not know, for instance, what a Muslim artist had in mind when he painted an arabesque, a peacock, a hare, or the more fananimals such as those which are usually called griffons and harpies. Even the names of many designs are not known to Western scholars. There is usually also no explanation to be found as to why certain motifs became popular at certain times and then disappeared. The following study tries to establish the various iconographic forms and the historical setting of the "unicorn" motif. It also intends to reconstruct the connotations most likely to be found in the mind of a medieval Muslim conwith a picture of the animal." - Ettinghausen

Language: English

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