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Color Cladding: Islamic Tiles from the Doris Duke Collection, 2011

Keynote Public Lecture: March 6, 2011 at the Doris Duke Theatre

From Babylon to Baths: The History of Tiles in the Near East

Speaker: Jonathan Bloom, Norma Jean Calderwood University Professor of Islamic and Asian Art, Boston College

Professor Bloom’s keynote lecture offered a general history of Islamic tiles from the 12th century onwards. In addition to distinguishing between ceramic and tile traditions and interior and exterior tile decoration, he introduced the audience to various ceramic techniques (lajvardina, luster, cuerda seca, mosaic), discussed notable centers of production from North Africa to Iran, and clarified the original architectural contexts (palaces, mosques, shrines) of tiles now preserved in museum collections. His lecture was beautifully illustrated with images of well-known Islamic monuments, including the Kutubiyya Mosque in Marrakesh and the Shah Mosque in Isfahan. He also introduced the audience to several masterpieces in the Shangri La collection and concluded by considering the legacy of Islamic tiles across the globe.

Presentations: March 7-8, 2011 at Shangri La

The remaining two days of the conference were closed to the public and took place in the Playhouse, which is regularly used as a convening space for lectures and musical performances. This intimate “workshop” setting fostered a compelling degree of dialogue and debate over the course of two days.


Ali b. Muhammad's mihrab and its mates

Speaker: Sheila Blair, Norma Jean Calderwood University Professor of Islamic and Asian Art, Boston College


Groups, gaps and guesses: Some reflections on Kashan luster tiles

Speaker: Oliver Watson, I.M. Pei Professor Elect of Islamic Art and Architecture, University of Oxford, United Kingdom


From Tents to (Text)Tiles: Some thoughts on the source of tile design

Speaker: Linda Komaroff, Curator of Islamic Art and Department Head, Art of the Middle East, LACMA


Tiles from Ilkhanid secular buildings

Speaker: Tomoko Masuya, Professor of Islamic Art History, Institute for Advance Studies in Asia, University of Tokyo


Characterization of the ceramic phases of Takht-i Sulaiman tiles

Speaker: John Hirx, Senior Objects Conservator and Head of Objects Conservation at LACMA


Pahlavi Tiles on Pacific Walls: Doris Duke's Commissions of 1938-39

Speaker: Keelan Overton, Curator of Islamic Art at Shangri La (June 2011-Nov. 2012)

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