'The Grove Encyclopedia of Islamic Art and Architecture’ Addresses Laymen, Authors

Publish Date : Wednesday 12 February 2014 - 13:22
The compilers of 'The Grove Encyclopedia of Islamic Art and Architecture’ , Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom said their work addresses all readers without any knowledge about Islamic architecture.
IBNA: Speaking with IBNA prior to receiving their World Book of the Year Award of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Bloom and his wife Blair said their work is good for everyone without any information about the history of Islamic art and architecture. What follows is a short interview they had with IBNA here in Tehran, Iran.
-Please tell our readers about your work and its significance. 
Bloom: We edited articles on Islamic art and the arts of Central Asia and had it published in, I think, 1996 or 1997, and we went on to other things. And about 10 years ago we were approached by Oxford University Press which now owns that publication and they said, "would you like to take all the articles and put into a very big encyclopedia which would be only dedicated to Islamic art and architecture?" And so we said yes we would do that. What it meant was taking everything that we had done before, extracting it, moving pieces around, cutting them up, putting them together, commissioning new ones and creating a new work out of the olds, and bringing everything up to date. 

Blair: Our work is bigger and longer than any other work in Islamic art and architecture so far, far bigger, so only the articles on section A of the encyclopedia are bigger than a book, and have more words than a book. 

-How long did it take to complete? 
Two years. 

-Did you have to visit places to finish the work? 
Yes, we have been everywhere . However there are places like Saudi Arabia and Iraq that we did not visit. We didn\'t do all of the work ourselves. We had over 260 writers who wrote the original articles and we brought it all together. We put them all together and smoothed them out. Some of out contributors are among the most famous people. Many of them are among the greatest experts in Islamic arts. Their names have been enclosed at the beginning of the book. But not in the articles because of technical reasons that we had to move paragraphs around. We also needed to make it read continuously. So you have to put things in the middle. 

-What was the method you applied for completion of your work? 
We wanted to make it as complete and accessible to ordinary people. And for people ranging from ordinary folks who are just interested in the subject to scholars and students and researchers of other fields who want to quickly learn something about Islamic art and architecture. 

-So you didn\'t presume any further information on the part of the readers. 
Yes right exactly. We had a philosophy that some arts are more important than others. Architectures is the most important art, we believe, because it takes more money and work so it must be given more words. It takes more money and more time so it must get more word. For instance, in Islamic art writing is very very important. We had to tell people that in bigger articles.
Story Code: 194090