New Evidence on Medieval Hungaro-Khwarazmian Artistic Contacts

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Institutional Affiliation : 
Department of Iranian Studies, Eötvös Loránd University of Sciences
Academic Bio: 
Iván Szántó (1977) is a Lecturer of Iranian Art in the Department of Iranian Studies at Eötvös Loránd University of Sciences (ELTE), Budapest. He has a PhD in Art History (2009, ELTE) and an MA in Iranian Studies (2003, ELTE). From 2003, he has served at the Department of Iranian Studies at ELTE, conducting seminars (readings of historical, art historical, and literary texts, source interpretation) and lecturing (on the history and art history of Iran and neighboring countries). His research interests and publications focus on various aspects of Islamic visual arts, in particular the artistic connections and interchanges between Early Modern Iran, Eastern Europe, and the frontier areas between them. He has participated in various museum projects and exhibitions in Hungary. His professional career outside of academia includes translating and editing.

The recent chance find of a Khorasan lampstand in Budapest warrants a rethinking of the nature and extent of trade contacts between these areas. Apart from its unexpected finding location, the significance of the object is enhanced by its association to a small but well-defined group which can be dated either to the last decades of the twelfth century AD or to the first decades of the thirteenth. All the known examples will be discussed in the first section of the paper. Such artefacts are by no means common in a thirteenth-century Central European context, yet indirect information about contacts between Hungarian and Khwarazmian traders – comprising written documents, toponyms, and coin hoards – are well attestable until the second quarter of the thirteenth century when both countries were ransacked by the advancing Mongols; and this combined information might explain the fortunes of this piece of metalwork.  Tentative as this suggestion is, the object might also illustrate the hitherto barely detected material culture of the Khwarazmian settlers of Hungary.  In the second part of the discussion, a closer look will be taken at the aforesaid commercial and social networks. Finally, a wider regional overview is presented that may open up a path towards the evaluation of medieval Iranian metalwork in the area.

Academic Discipline : 
Iranian Studies
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