From Islamica Magazine
by Lucien De Guise
The monsoon winds brought Islam to Southeast Asia. Lucien de Guise wonders when interest in the region’s Islamic art will arrive …
Surveys of islamic art tend to venture no further east than India. Similarly, art historians have shown a long-standing lack of interest in the output of Muslim artists from sub-Saharan Africa. The same applies to Islam in Europe, unless it happens to be Spain or Sicily, which have acquired perhaps the greatest mystique of all. Islamic art of the Balkans does not have the same allure, partly because it is of a more recent vintage and includes embarrassing items such as wine cups.
The conventional approach has for more than a century determined that Islamic art comes from the “heartlands” and everything else is ethnographic. No one can say that the quantity of books on Islamic art is anything but massive, especially when the number of collectors is so small. The geographical range is, however, very limited. Books may occasionally mention China or Southeast Asia, but seldom do they show what works from so far east actually look like. To find a volume dedicated to Islamic art from these regions is almost inconceivable.