chao chen, research librarianChao Chen, Research Librarian; Home
email:; phone: 617.627.2057.
Tisch Library, Tufts University

Painting in Islamic Art (8th-16th Centuries)

Research Sources & Tips



1. Overviews, Images and Primary Sources

2. Reserves and Books

3. Journal Articles

4. Writing and Citing Sources


1. Overviews, Images and Primary Sources

  Definitions and Overviews


   Primary Sources


87 Thematic Essays on Islamic Art and More
Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History.)

The Grove Islamic Art and Architecture

Oxford Art Online



Currently, of the more than 1.9 million images are the following collections related to Islamic art:


Sheila Blair, Jonathan Bloom, Walter Denny: Islamic Art and Architecture


Dura-Europos and Gerasa Archives (Yale University)


Machteld Johanna Mellink: Near Eastern Archaeology (Bryn Mawr College)


Shangri La, Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art


David Wade: Pattern in Islamic Art


Islamic Manuscripts Online

Discover Islamic Art

Miniatures from the Topkapi Museum (Istanbul)

The Digital Scriptorium

(medieval and renaissance manuscripts from many institutions.


The Muslim World 1100-1700: Early Sources on Middle East History, Geography and Travel. DS38.3 .M88 2007

Early Medieval art, 300-1150; Sources and Documents N5975 .D3


2. Reserves and Books

  A. Use Library Catalogs for Reserves and Books

   B. Sample Searches:

      Using the search technique as described in the left column, we have arrived at more subject browsing (mainly in the Tisch collections) below; note the search pattern and keywords; modify to your own needs. Search beyond Tisch; for example, BLC WorldCat)

1. Course Reserves

2. Tufts Libraries Catalog

3. BLC WorldCat (beyond Tufts)


Path of Discovery in the Catalogs

1. Find a title/author (assigned readings/Course Reserves);

2. Note the descriptive language of the Catalog record.

3. Use that language in further searches


e.g. Click on subject/author in the record to see further results and related topics.



O'Kane, Bernard.


Early Persian painting: Kalila and Dimna manuscripts of the late fourteenth century


London; New York: I.B. Tauris, 2003.


Kalīlah wa-Dimnah. Persian.

Illumination of books and manuscripts, Iranian

Manuscripts, Persian.

1. Subject Browse:

Islamic art


Islamic art -- Egypt

Islamic art -- Iran

Islamic art, Turkey


Islamic art -- Mediterranean Region


Art, Sassanid

Art, Medieval -- Spain

Islamic art Spain

Art -- Italy -- Venice


Islamic calligraphy

Islamic painting

Islamic pottery


Coptic mural painting and decoration



Miniature painting, Iranian



Illumination of books and manuscripts


Illumination of books and manuscripts, Arab

Islamic illumination of books and manuscripts

Illumination of books and manuscripts, Iranian



Koran -- Illustrations


Illustration of books -- Arab countries


Literature, Medieval -- Illustrations


Art and literature -- Islamic countries  


Art and literature -- History To 1500


Firdawsī. Shāhnāmah -- Illustrations


Science -- Islamic countries -- History

2. Keyword Searches



Mosaics and "Middle East"


mosaics and turkey


mosaics and palestin*


A particular issue, Christian elements/influences:


egypt* and art* and christian* and (Medieval or "middle ages")



1. include "and" in between keywords;

2. "or" and ( ) to nest related/varied expressions;

3. art* for art, arts, artists, etc.


*Try using historical terms such as "Persia", "Ottoman", "Iberia", Al Andalus, Caliph, Caliphal, as well.




3. Find Exhibition/Museum Catalogues

Islamic Art -- Exhibitions

These exhibition and museum catalogues are uniquely valuable sources, which may include:

*Fundamental data on each work of art;

*Official images of the artworks;

*Curatorial statements/essays;

*essays by art critics/historians;

*list of scholarly publications on the art;

*interviews with artists;

*and more.


3. Journal Articles and More

  A. Subject Databases:

   B. Searching Tips:

   C. Finding Full Text

1. JSTOR and Project Muse


Two favorite collections of core journals of all disciplines.


2. Period Studies:


International Medieval Bibliography (400-1500).


Iter: Gateway to the Middle Ages and Renaissance (400 -1700).



3. Search across these subjects or separately (the ProQuest databases:

Index Islamicus

ArtBibliographies Modern

Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals

MLA (Literature)

Dissertations & Theses



4. Another Group of Databases:

Art Full Text

Historical Abstracts,

Religion Index,

Women's Studies


5. When use GoogleScholar, set your Library Links to access Tufts full texts.

1. Find More Articles like this "perfect" one


Search, in Arts and Humanities Citation Index, for the article you have read. For example the article in your syllabus:

King, David A. "Astronomical Alignments in Medieval Islamic Religious Architecture."Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 385 (1982) 303-312.
References: 32 Times Cited: 6

You can, then, look up, in the record, the 32 references that King cited for his article and, in turn, 6 articles that cited his. The assumption is that these articles address related issues.


1. Not every single article is cited;
2. Influential authors are cited more often;
3. More recent publications take time to be cited.


2. Find "Literature Review"

Reviews of recent books and other types of review articles in major journals in a discipline are likely to summarize the current state of research in an area.

An example of review of Books:

Brend, Barbara. "Figurative Art in Medieval Islam and the Aiddle of Bihzad of Herat (1465-1535). Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 17 (2007) 64-68.


Recently Published Reviews

1. Click on the findIt@tufts button button in your search results screen to a window of three sequential options:

a. link to the digital full text when available;

b. link to a Library Catalog search for the print journal;

c. link to ILliad for requesting the article when the above two options are negative.

2. Search for a journal directly here:

a. Tufts Library Catalog (including e-journals)

b. Electronic journals list

c. Use ILliad to request your article, if Tufts does not have your journal.


A Few Core Journals:

Dumbarton Oaks Papers

Early Medieval Europe

Essays in Medieval Studies


Medieval Encounters


Studies in Iconography


International Journal of Middle East Studies

Islamic Studies

Journal of Near Eastern Studies

Journal of Middle East Women's Studies

The Middle East Journal



The Art Bulletin.

Art History

Architectural History

Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians


4. Writing and Citing

   Writing Help

   Citing Sources

A Short Guide to Writing about Art by Sylvan Barnet. Oversize: N7476 .B37 2011  

Writing about Art & Art History (The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)



Tufts Academic Resources Center -- Writing Tutors


Chicago Style Manual