chapter  7
28 Pages

The Greek Sources of Islamic Scientific Illustrations

WithKurt Weitzmann

This chapter focuses on defining more precisely than has been attempted hitherto the impact of Greek manuscripts on Islamic book painting, looking at this problem primarily from the point of view of a Byzantinist. That al-Jazari wrote his treatise under the inspiration of Greek models has generally been recognized, though there is some debate as to the precise texts he used. The point is that the Islamic illustrator did not have to invent this type of automaton, but that he was in a position merely to transform into his own style similar contrivances of Greek models, being perfectly capable of designing seated figures where the Greek model may have had standing ones. Once more the Byzantine parallel suggests that the Arab illustrator was inspired by a Greek model, though at the same time he showed a capability of recasting it in his own, outspoken style.