Aga Khan Documentation Center receives noted scholar’s archive

Tabbaa Mosul

Iraq. Mosul. Mashhad al-Imam Yahya ibn al-Qasim. Built, 1239-40/637 AH; destroyed, July 2014/1435 AH

Yasser Tabbaa, a prominent scholar in Islamic art and architecture, has donated his archive to AKDC@MIT. Dr. Tabbaa has taught at several prestigious US universities, including MIT, The University of Michigan, and Oberlin College. Internationally, Dr. Tabbaa taught on the faculty of New York University Abu Dhabi; served as Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Design at the University of Jordan; and Deputy Headmaster and Dean of the Faculty at King’s Academy in Amman, Jordan. Dr. Tabbaa  has authored books and articles on Islamic architecture, ornament, and calligraphy, including Constructions of Power and Piety in Medieval Aleppo (Penn State Press, 1997) and The Transformation of Islamic Art during the Sunni Revival  (U. Washington Press, 2001). His most recent book is Najaf: The Gate of Wisdom (UNESCO, 2014), and he is currently directing a similar project on the city and monuments of Samarra and preparing a book on Shiʿi shrine architecture.

Particularly pertinent to events of today, Dr. Tabbaa’s collection documents many of the monuments damaged or destroyed in recent conflicts, including those in Iraq and Syria.  His images and notes will be used in the continuing effort of AKDC to substantiate and record the loss of cultural heritage throughout the region.

Dr. Tabbaa’s archive, comprised of slides, prints, field notes, and more, will not only enhance AKDC’s archival holdings, but — in conjunction with other recent scholarly archival donations — provides a unique opportunity for students and scholars to examine the historiography of the field as it developed in the late 20th century.