Dedicated to the topics of eroticism and sexuality in the visual production of the medieval and early modern Muslim world, this volume sheds light on the diverse socio-cultural milieus of erotic images, on the range of motivations that determined their production, and on the responses generated by their circulation. The articles revise what has been accepted as a truism in existing literature-that erotic motifs in the Islamic visual arts should be read metaphorically-offering, as an alternative, rigorous contextual and cultural analyses. Among the subjects discussed are male and female figures as sexualized objects; the spiritual dimensions of eroticism; licit versus illicit sexual practices; and the exotic and erotic ’others’ as a source of sensual delight. As the first systematic study on these themes in the field of Islamic art history, this volume fills a considerable gap and contributes to the lively debates on the nature and function of erotic and sexual images that have featured prominently in broader art-historical discussions in recent decades.
Francesca Leoni is the Yousef Jameel Curator of Islamic Art, Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Oxford, UK. Mika Natif is Assistant Curator of Islamic and Later Indian Art, Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art, Harvard Art Museums, USA.
'Francesca Leoni and Mika Natif, curators at the Ashmolean Museum and the Harvard Art Museums respectively, are well placed to bring together this timely new collection, which taken as a whole asserts that the obvious should no longer be wilfully overlooked. The result is an interesting investigation into cultural attitudes to sex.' Art Newspaper