Re-Contextualizing the Object: Using New Technologies to Reconstruct the Lost Interiors of Medieval Islamic Buildings
journal article
There has been a common theme arising in the display of Islamic architectural fragments. Decontextualized and alone, so often their rather opaque provenance, and questions as to how the objects became detached from their original locations, have led to a profound disconnect between the objects and the buildings from which they came. This article proposes a new way of displaying and understanding such items in situ that directly confronts the issue of origin. Its focus is on the Ilkhanid lustre tiles from the tomb of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Samad in Natanz, Iran. A number of the tiles are in major museum collections around the world, with little sense of the cumulative appearance of the complete composition, or the other decorative elements of the building. By using low-cost building materials and high-quality printing it is possible to recreate a sense of the Ilkhanid-era appearance of the interior of the Natanz tomb. Through such an installation the original scale, context, and epigraphic programme will become clear. This article challenges several curatorial conventions and bridges the divide between the objects and the building of which they originally formed an integral part.

Keywords: Ilkhanid; Natanz; exhibitions; lustre tiles; museums; provenance
McClary, Richard Piran. "Re-Contextualizing the Object: Using New Technologies to Reconstruct the Lost Interiors of Medieval Islamic Buildings." In International Journal of Islamic Architecture, Volume 7, Number 2 (pp. 263-283) , edited by Yuka Kadoi and Mohammad Gharipour, Bristol: Intellect, 2018.
tile work (visual works)