The Gwalior Qur’an Manuscript: Biographies

The Gwalior Qur’aninfo-icon Manuscript: The Polysemy of an Illuminated Codex
Paris, 14–15 June, 2012
Institut d’Art et d’Archéologie (Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art) and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Site Richelieu).

Omar Alí-de-Unzaga is a Research Associate in the Department of Academic Research and Publications and Academic Coordinator of the Qur’anic Studies Research Unit at The Institute of Ismaili Studies. He completed his PhD at the University of Cambridge, on the use of the Qur’an in the Epistles of the Pure Brethren (Ikhwan al-Safa). He is currently preparing a publication under the working title ‘A Philosophical Reading of Scripture: The Qur’an in the Epistles of the Pure Brethren’, as well as an English translation and a critical edition of the Epistle on Character Traits (al-Risala fi’l-akhlaq) of the Rasa’il Ikhwan al-Safa’.

Sabrina Alilouche holds a Masters degree in Linguistics and Art History. She has studied Hafsid gravestones of the thirteenth to sixteenth centuries from Algeria under the supervision of Jean-Pierre Van Staëvel and Éloïse Brac de la Perrière. She is currently working on the subject of painted wooden ceilings dating from the sixteenth to the twentieth century in Algiers.

Nalini Balbir is Directeur d’études at the École Pratique des Hautes Études and professor of Indian Studies at the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3. She is an expert in Jain Studies, in Hindi and Gujarati literature as well as the philology of Buddhist texts. Among her many works are the catalogues and descriptions of the Jain manuscripts kept in European libraries (the volumes dedicated to the British Library, British Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum having been completed).

Nourane Ben Azzouna holds a PhD in the History of Islamic Art, but is also interested in codicology and the history of books. Her work mainly focuses on manuscripts. She is currently Chargée d’études at the Agence France Museums / Louvre Abu Dhabi.

Johanna Blayac is an historian specialising in the Islamic world in the Middle Ages. She is currently carrying out research into the Indian sultanates and Muslims in India. Her doctoral thesis deals with the earliest Indo-Muslim societies (seventh–fourteenth centuries), seen through the medium of epigraphy. She is an associate researcher at the Centre d’Études de l’Inde et de l’Asie du Sud (Centre National de Recherche Scientifique – École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales), and is currently teaching as a temporary lecturer (attaché temporaire de recherche et enseignement) at the University of Paris 8.

Éloïse Brac de la Perrière holds a PhD in Art History and is an expert in illuminated manuscripts and in pre-Mughal India. She is Maître de conférences in Art History and Archeology of the Muslim World at the University of Paris – Sorbonne, and the author of L’art du livre dans l’Inde des sultanats (Paris, 2008). For the last three years, she has led the research programme on the Gwalior Qur’an (Centre National de Recherche Scientifique – University of Paris – Sorbonne).

Frantz Chaigne is completing his doctoral thesis on the illuminated decorations of manuscripts created in the Ilkhan empire at the University of Paris – Sorbonne. His main areas of focus include the compilation of a taxonomy of ornamental elements and the part played by exchanges with Central and Far Eastern Asia. He has taken part in the research programme on the Gwalior Qur’an led by Éloïse Brac de la Perrière since 2009.

Mathilde Cruvelier is preparing a doctoral thesis on the art of Muslim and Christian Arabic books in the Mamluk Near East during the fourteenth century, at the University of Paris – Sorbonne. She was an associate researcher in the Department of Manuscripts (Orient Department) of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France from 2008 to 2009. Since 2009, she has been studying the Gwalior Qur’an as part of doctoral research.

Heather Ecker is the Head of Curatorial Affairs at the Aga Khaninfo-icon Museum Project in Toronto. Previously, she was Curator of Islamic Art and Head of the Department of the Arts of Asia and the Islamic World at the Detroit Institute of Arts. She received her doctorate in Islamic Art and Archaeology from the University of Oxford in 2000. In 2004, she was the curator of Caliphs and Kings. The Art and Influence of Islamic Spain at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. With Teresa Fitzherbert, she is the co-author of ‘The Freer Canteen, Reconsidered’ (forthcoming in the Ars Orientalis journal).

Ghazaleh Esmailpour Qouchani studied Applied Arts at the Honar University in Tehran. She is now completing her thesis at the University of Paris – Sorbonne, on the subject of the use of the colour blue in Safavid miniatures before the reign of Shah Abbas. Since 2009, she has been contributing to the research on the Gwalior Qur’an in the workshops led by Éloïse Brac de la Perrière.

Finbarr Barry Flood, PhD, is a Professor at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University. He is currently working on a research project entitled ‘Islam and Image: Aniconism, Iconoclasm, and the Economy of Representation’. Another of his fields of research is intercultural exchanges in the Islamic World. His two most recent publications are Globalizing Cultures: Art and Mobility in the Eighteenth Century, a dedicated volume of Ars Orientalis, vol. 39 (2011) which he co-edited, and Objects of Translation: Material Culture and Medieval ‘Hindu–Muslim’ Encounter (Princeton, 2009).

Christiane Gruber, PhD, is Associate Professor of Islamic Art at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her fields of research include Islamic book arts, Persian painting, Turco-Persian representations of the Prophet Muhammad, Islamic ascension (mi‘rajinfo-icon) tales and images, practices of divination in Persian lands, and post-revolutionary Iranian visual and material culture. She is the author of two books on mi‘raj texts and images, the editor of several volumes on Islamic book arts, ascension tales and visual culture. She is currently writing her next book, entitled The Praiseworthy One: The Prophet Muhammad in Islamic Texts and Images.

Asma Hilali is a Research Associate in the Qur’anic Studies Unit of The Institute of Ismaili Studies, London. She studied Arabic Language, Literature and Civilisation at the University of Tunis I. She completed a PhD thesis at the École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris, in 2004. Since 2008, she has worked on the edition of the oldest manuscript of the Qur’an. She includes this work in her larger research project on the transmission of Qur’an and hadithinfo-icon and ‘intermediary genres’ during the first three centuries of Islam. Along with this subject, most of her publications and conferences are about the history of prophetic traditions, its process of conceptualisation and the historical issues that surround it.

Marie Lamaa is an Art Historian working on calligraphy and epigraphy in the Islamic World. As Collaborateur scientifique in the Department of Islamic Arts at the Louvre Museum from 2002 to 2009, she has worked on a number of exhibitions and contributed to their catalogues. She is currently associated with the Centre Phoenix pour les Études Libanaises, Saint-Esprit University, Kaslik (Lebanon) and is working on a variety of museum projects as well as on exhibitions.

Yves Porter holds a PhD in Iranian Studies and an Habilitation à diriger des Recherches (HdR) in the History of Islamic Art. He is Professor of History of Islamic Art and Archaeology at the University of Aix-Marseille. He is specifically interested in Persian writing on the Arts as well as in the art of books and in ceramics from Iran and Muslim India. He has recently published L’Inde des sultans (Paris, 2009) and Le Prince, l’artiste et l’alchimiste: la céramique dans le monde iranien au Xe au XVIIe siècle (Paris, 2011).

Anne Regourd holds a PhD in Philosophy. She currently works in the Institute of Social Anthropology at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna. She published on divinatory and magic practices in mediaeval Islam and contemporary Yemen (Religious Anthropology, History of Sciences) and in Arabic Philology (Papyrology, Epigraphy). She runs the programmewhich safeguards the manuscripts of the private libraries of Zabid (Yemen, Centre Français d’Archéologie et de Sciences Sociales de Sanaa), paying special attention to the watermarked papers.

Simon Rettig received his BA from the École du Louvre in Paris and his MA from the University of Aix-Marseille I, where he recently completed his PhD in Islamic Art and Archaeology. He is a researcher at the Freie Universität in Berlin in the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft – Emmy Noether Junior Research Group ‘Kosmos-Ornatus. Ornament in France and Persia ca. 1400 in Comparison’. His project is entitled ‘Designing the Book: Function and Evolution of Illuminations in Persian Manuscripts Between 1370 and 1500’. He also teaches undergraduate seminars on the history of Islamic art.

Francis Richard is an expert in the field of Persian manuscripts and miniatures. He was curator of Persian manuscripts in the Department of Manuscripts at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France from 1974 to 2003. Between 2003 and 2007, he was Head of the Department of Islamic Arts at the Louvre Museum. Since 2006 he has been the Academic Director of the Bibliothèque Universitaire des Langues et Civilisations (BULAC), Paris. He is the author of a number of publications on Persian manuscripts, such as Splendeurs persanes. Manuscrits du XIIe au XVIIe siècle (Paris, 1997) and Le Livre persan (Paris, 2003). His most recent work, Bibliothèque nationale de France. Catalogue des manuscrits persans. II. Le Supplément persan (no. 1–1000) is forthcoming (2012).

Patricia Roger-Puyo is Ingénieur de recherche at Institut de Recherche sur les Archéomatériaux, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Orléans. She holds a doctorate in Physical Sciences, specifically radiological physics, from Paul Sabatier University in Toulouse. Having previously worked as a radiophysicist in a hospital environment, she embarked upon a career change, moving to the Ernest Babelon Centre of the Centre National de Recherche Scientifique, Paris, where she became Bernard Guineau’s successor in 2002 in order to pursue her research into archaeo-materials using non-destructive methods, and into pigments and dyes. Medieval manuscripts are the main focus of her research, which makes use of the methods of non-destructive spectrometric analyses in situ. Arabic manuscripts are among those studied.

Fabrizio Speziale holds a PhD in Social and Historical Anthropology (l’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, 2002). He is an expert in scientific texts from Iran and Southern Asia. His current research deals especially with the history of Persian and Urdu texts on the subjects of medicine and Indian sciences. He currently holds a joint position as lecturer in Languages, History and Society of the Iranian World at the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3 and the Centre National de Recherche Scientifique, and he is the head of the Perso-Indica research programme.

Jean-Pierre Van Staëvel is a Professor of Archaeology and History of Islamic Arts at the University of Paris – Sorbonne. He is an archaeologist and Arabist, and an expert in the Western part of the Muslim world during the Middle Ages. He has taken part in excavations at Sabra al-Mansuriyya (Tunisia), among others. He is currently leading the joint French–Moroccan archaeological programme of the Ijiliz Mountains (Morocco), the cradle of the Almohad movement. He is also interested in the contribution that legal sources can make to our knowledge of the material culture of the countries of Islam. He has published Droit maikite et habitat à Tunis au XIVe siècle: conflits de voisinage et normes juridiques d’après le texte du maître maçon Ibn al-Rami (Cairo, 2008).