Aga Khan University Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations presents
Medieval Kashan: Crossroads of Commerce and Culture
Mon 6 November 2017
Room 2.3, Aga Khan University Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations 210 Euston Road London NW1 2DA United Kingdom OR Online via GoToWebinar.
This talk first attempts to explain why the Iranian city of Kashan is where it is and how it grew. The town’s extensive use of irrigation allowed an adequate and perhaps abundant agriculture in the surrounding region. The important presence of early Arab immigrants to Kashan is linked to Kashan’s developing and continued role as a centre of Shiʿism. A strong educational tradition produced many talented Kashani officials in the Seljuq and later administrations, who sent some of their wealth back to Kashan.
It was also in the Seljuq period that the luxury ceramics of Kashan gained international reputation. Moreover, a long-standing artisanal tradition made Kashan an exporter of brass and, above all, textiles for centuries. Wealthy Kashanis (who probably included a fair number of sayyids) invested heavily in charitable endowments, which served the poor and furthered learning in general. In the Timurid period, the investments in mathematical education produced several outstanding mathematicians and astronomers. Tax yields of the Medieval Period indicate the progressive prosperity of Kashan. As a comparatively small city, Kashan was spared some of the destruction that plagued larger Iranian cities during the Medieval Period.
Professor Roy P. Mottahedeh is a Gurney Research Professor of History in the Department of History at Harvard University. From 1987 to 1990, he was the Director of the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University and founded the Harvard Middle East and Islamic Review. He was elected a member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Council on Foreign Relations and has served as a series editor for several academic publishers. In 2006, Professor Mottahedeh received an honorary degree from the University of Lund, Sweden. He also served as Director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program at Harvard. Professor Mottahedeh is the author of various articles that demonstrate his wide range of interests from the Abbasid period in the 8th century to Islamic revival movements of the present day.