The new and newly renovated Shi'i shrines in Syria present dichotomies and paradoxes that encompass their foreign patronage, uncommon architecture, and huge popularity among pilgrims and casual visitors alike. Whereas their quite discordant architecture and excessive ornamentation may repel some sophisticated observers, they have become central to the pious practices of hundreds of thousands of visitors from all of the surrounding Shi'ite world. In his lecture, Yasser Tabbaa attempts to reconcile the formal aspects of these shrines--their plan, design, ornament and inscriptions---with the most basic themes of Shi'ite ritual, including the ziyara, the veneration of Ahl al-Bayt, the morals of martyrdom, and the prevailing theatricality of both ritual and architecture.
Yasser Tabbaa, visiting professor of Art History at New York University Abu Dhabi, is a specialist in Medieval Islamic architecture. His work brings together the architectural and epigraphic aspects of buildings to better understand the social, political, and religious conditions under which they were built. He has published widely on monuments that span the regions of North Africa and the Middle East, and is currently at work on the intersection of Christian and Islamic art. Mr. Taabba received his B.A. from Ohio State University and his Ph.D. from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. He has previously taught at M.I.T. and the University of Michigan.
VCU Qatar’s lectures in the Arts and Architecture of the Islamic World comprise current scholarly research from the beginning of Islamic civilization to the present. They provide an open academic forum of cultural discourse and exchange to the general public as well as specialists in art, design and the liberal arts and sciences.
Yasser Tabbaa’s lecture ‘Inclusive Piety with an Exclusive Image: The Shi'i Shrines of Syria’ is on 19 January, 2011 at 6:30 PM at the Atrium in VCUQatar. The lecture is open to the public. For further information please contact +974 44020555 or visit www.qatar.vcu.edu.