3) Cotton plant as imagined and drawn by John Mandeville; "There grew there [India] a wonderful tree which bore tiny lambs on the endes of its branches. These branches were so pliable that they bent down to allow the lambs to feed when they are hungrie."
4) Descent of the Ganges (Mahabalipuram), Bay of Bengal, c. 7th cent AD.
5) Descent of the Ganges (Mahabalipuram) viewed by Indian women.
6) Yakshi from Bharut, c. 100 BC, stone, 2.14 m, Indian Museum, Calcutta.
7) Female figure with a bird, Indian, early 9th century, sandstone, 81.5 cm, Royal Academy, Patna.
8) Front page of the Opticae Thesaurus, which included the first printed Latin translation of Alhazen's Book of Optics. The illustration incorporates many examples of optical phenomena including perspective effects, the rainbow, mirrors, and refraction.
9) Iraqi banknote with portrait of Alhazen.
10) Hevelius's Selenographia, showing Alhasenc] representing reason, and Galileo representing the senses, 1647, Houghton Library, Harvard University.
11) Unknown engraver, Francis Xavier (left), Ignatius of Loyola (right) and Christ at the upper centre. Below: Matteo Ricci (right) and Johann Adam Schall von Bell (left), all in dialogue towards the evangelization of China.
12) Puppet Show in a Tea House, hanging scroll, Japan, 18th century, National Museum, Warsaw.
13) Hiroshige, Sudden Shower Over Shin-Ohashi Bridge and Atake, Hiroshige, 1857, one of the hundred famous views of Edo, Brooklyn Museum, New York.
14) Gentile Bellini, Portrait of Sultan Mehmed II, 1480, oil (19th-century repaint) on canvas, perhaps transferred from wood, 69.9 x 52.1 cms, National Gallery, London.
15) Sibilizade Ahmed, Sultan Mehmed II smelling a Rose, c. 1480, watercolour on paper, Tokapi Palace Museum, Istanbul.
16) Gentile Bellini, sketch of a Turkish painter, or scribe, 1479-80, pen and gouache on parchment, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston.
17) School of Veronese, Sultan Selim II, last quarter of sixteenth-century, oil on canvas, Alte Pinakothek, Munich.
18) Nakkaş Osman, miniature of Sultan Selim II, from treatise on physiognomy, 1579, Tokapi Palace Museum, Istanbul.
19) Nakkas Osman, Consultation for the programme of the Şahname-ı Selim Han, with the scholars Şemseddin Ahmet Karabaği, Seyyid Lokman, the writer Ilyas Katib and the painters Nakkaş Osman and Ali, 1571–81 (folio 9r).
20) Nakkas Osman, Murder of Ma'sum Beg, the envoy of the Safavid Shah Tahmasp, by Bedouin in the Hejaz, from the Şahname-ı Selim Han (folio 68a).
21) Hans Holbein, The Ambassadors, 1533, oil on oak, 207 x 209. 5 cms, National Gallery, London.
22) Detail: Scientific instruments.
23) Attributed to Jacopo di Barbari, Portrait of Luca Pacioli, c. 1495-1500, tempera on panel, 99 x 120 cms (39 x 47 inches), Capodimonte, Naples.
24) The first printed illustration of a rhombicuboctahedron, by Leonardo da Vinci, published in De divina proportione, 1509.
25) Dynamic slide of a rhombicuboctahedron.
26) Folio from a non-illustrated manuscript, second half 9th–mid-10th century, made in Tunisia, probably Qairawan, Gold and silver on indigo-dyed parchment, 11 15/16 x 15 13/16 in. (30.4 x 40.2 cm), Metropolitan Museum, New York.
27) Only known copy of the first printed Koran in Venice, 1537-1538.
28) Isola di San Michele, Venice.
29) Folio from a non-illustrated manuscript, late 8th–early 9th century, attributed to Syria, Yemen, or North Africa, Ink on parchment, H. 21 5/8 x 27 9/16 in. (55 x 70 cm).
30) Mappomondo Room, Palazzo Pubblico, Siena.
31) Simone Martini, Equestrian Portrait of Guidoriccio da Fogliano (west wall), c. 1330, Fresco, 340 x 968 cm, Palazzo Pubblico, Siena.
32) Detail: Guidoriccio da Fogliano.
33) Pietro Vesconte's Mappa Mundi from Marino Sanuto's Liber secretorum (oriented with East at the top), 1320-1321.
34) Image of a cartographer, assumed to be Pietro Vesconte himself, from the 1318 Vesconte atlas, Museo Correr, Venice.
35) Martyrdom of the Franciscans, 1324-27, Fresco, San Francesco,Siena.
36) Map of the Silk Roads.
37) Zhou Jichang, Lohan Demonstrating the Power of the Buddhist Sutras to Daoists, c 1178, as reproduced by Bernard Berenson with the caption “Chinese Painting of the Twelfth Century,” in Bernard Berenson, “A Sienese Painter in a Franciscan Legend,” Burlington Magazine, 1903, MFA, Boston.
38) Photograph of Berenson looking at art.
39) Hanging scroll of a bodhisattva (Avalokiteśvara or Kṣitigarbha) leading an elegant lady supported on clouds to the Pure Land, ink and colours on silk, British Museum, London.
40) Tawaraya Sōtatsu Waves at Matsushima, eighteenth century, six-panel folding, screen, MFA, Boston, Fenollosa-Weld, Collection.
41) Berenson’s “Buddha.” Head of Ananda, Javanese, sailendra dynasty (eighth– eleventh century), ca. 760–830, stone, probably from Candi Borobudur, magelang, Java, photograph taken for the Berensons by Harry Burton, ca. 1910.
42) Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Palazzo Publicco, Good and Bad Government frescoes, 1338-1340.
43) Effects of Good Government on the City Life (detail), 1338-40, Fresco, Palazzo Pubblico, Siena.
44) Effects of Good Government on the City Life (detail), 1338-40, Fresco, Palazzo Pubblico, Siena.
45) Chinese porcelain found in renaissance Italy, 15th century, location unknown.
46) Blue-and-white faience albarello with Kufic-inspired designs, Tuscany, 2nd half of 15th century.
47) Effects of Good Government in the Countryside.
49) Hawking Party.
51) Leonardo, Landscape drawing for Santa Maria della Neve on 5th August 1473, Pen and ink, 190 x 285 mm, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.
52) Huang Gongwang, The first part of the Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains, titled The Remaining Mountain, 31.8 × 51.4 cm, Zhejiang Provincial Museum in Hangzhou.
53) Att to the Emperor Huizong, Chinese Women making silk, remake of a lost original by Zhang Xuan, early 12th century, ink colour and gold on silk, 7.7 cm × 466 cm, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
54) Masaccio, Madonna and Child, 1426, egg tempera on wood, 134.8 x 73.5 cms, National Gallery, London.
55) Detail showing Tiraz.
56) Tiraz fragment, late 9th or 10th century AD, att to Yemen, cotton, ink, and gold; plain weave, resist-dyed (ikat), painted Inscription: black ink and gold leaf; painted, Textile: L. 23 in. (58.4 cm) W. 16 in. (40.6 cm), Metropolitan Museum, New York.
57) Tiraz fragment, 8th–9th century, attributed to Egypt, wool; tapestry weave, 8 in. (20.3 cm), W.12 in. (30.5 cm), Metropolitan Museum, New York.
58) Pseudo-Kufic script on the hem of the Virgin's mantle in Filippo Lippi's 1438 Pala Barbadori, Musée du Louvre, Paris.
59) Filippo Lippi, Barbadori Altarpiece, 1438, tempera on panel, 208 cm × 244 cm (82 in × 96 in) Musée du Louvre, Paris.
Throughout this course we have looked at the art of the Silk Roads. To end we shall consider the link between silks and a famous painting in Florence: Masaccio’s Madonna and Christ. In this painting the Virgin Mary wears a purple cloak that is embroidered with words. This is an example of Tiraz, namely borders of textiles embellished in Arabic with silk threads. These were “standard for all textiles in Islamic countries” and they became much admired in Christian countries, as a result of Silk Road commerce. It is probably the case that the renaissance painters, commissioners and viewers of their works did not notice the hidden religious messages. So we return home to our familiar renaissance, but this time more knowledgeable about the links between its art and the Silk Roads.
 Xinru Liu, The Silk Roads in World History (Oxford University Press, 2010), 102.
“Cultural Traces” in Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s Good and Bad Government frescoes.
During one of his most aesthetic moments, Berenson enthused about the similarities between Japanese art and Lorenzetti’s paintings. Berenson developed an interest in Asian art, and more significantly made comparisons between it and western painting when he was part of the Bostonian group of scholars, art historians and aesthetes. In his early career this kind of intercultural comparison took the form of commenting on the “similarity” of the Venetian Carlo Crivelli and the Sienese Ambrogio Lorenzetti to Asian art; though later Berenson in his famous surveys of renaissance painting would liken the whole of the Sienese school to Chinese and Japanese art, largely inspired by eattending exhibitions and reading books about the subject. Long after Berenson’s death in 1959 such paintings as Lorenzetti’s Palazzo Pubblico murals of Good and Bad Government have intrigued art historians and cultural historians prompting them to pursue similar associations with the art of the Far East such as Prazniak wondering- for example- whether a piece of porcelain in this painting might actually be of the type imported from Iran or China. Scholars have gone further than this remaking on the “Chinese” look of Lorenzetti’s landscapes (above) and wondering whether the renaissance artist had knowledge of landscape painting from Asia. This speculative trend has even been extended to Leonardo, and one has to say comparing Da Vinci’s wonderfully rich drawing of the Vale of Arno with Chinese monochrome landscapes, it is tempting to argue some kind of diffusionism, but with the lack of concrete evidence we should err on the side of caution: this could simply be another instance of parallel development in landscape in different countries at separate times.
If the mappamondo that once hung in the Town Hall were an indication of Siena’s interest in Asia, this would be the cartographical equivalent of connecting St Francis on the road to Siena emulating the behaviour of whirling dervishes of the mystical Arabian Sufis who journeyed along the Silk Roads. Whether this can be called an example of religious diffusionism or parallel occurrence remains open to question; but the link whether imaginative or real has not deterred art historians, both living and dead, from connecting the Assisi monk with African and Asian religious groups. For example, in a letter written from India by Kenneth Clark to Bernard Berenson in 1950, the Director of the National Gallery compared St Francis to the Buddha, perhaps mindful of the fact that the Magus of I Tatti was interested in Asian art, and placed a head of Buddha next to his magnificent St Francis in Glory by the Florentine Sassetta. Berenson himself also remarked on the similarities between Franciscanism and Buddhism, albeit in a playful mood, though BB was preoccupied with the problem of “why is Christian art so unreligious, unspiritual as compared with the art of Buddhism. Less concerned with aesthetics and more with religion and intercultural links, Prazniak speculated about Lorenzetti’s Martyrdom of Franciscans (above). Chiefly, she wondered about the picture’s setting which might be Ceuta in Morocco where seven Sienese Franciscans martyred themselves in 1227. More relevant to the Silk Roads is the possibility that the event occurred in Tana (India), the site of a 1321 Franciscan martyrdom. Another possible site could be the Central Asian town of Almalyq near the Takmalakan Desert, an inhospitable and arid expanse known to travellers along the Silk Roads. In 1339 another group of Franciscans chose death there rather than be integrated into other religions at the Mongols’ bequest.
 The Sufis had attached themselves to Silk Road Caravans from the 10th century onwards, Richard C. Foltz, Religions of the Silk Roads: Overland Trade and Cultural Exchange from Antiquity to the Fifteenth-Century (New York, 1999), 11.
My Dear B.B: The Letters of Bernard Berenson and Kenneth Clark, 1925-1959, ed and annotated by Robert Cumming, (Yale University Press, 2015), 430. Actually the “Buddha” was Ananda, the sage’s helper.
 “for what can be more like in spirit than certain phases of Buddhism and certain phases of Franciscanism?” In Carl Brandon Strekhe, “Bernard Berenson and Asian Art” in Bernard Berenson: Formation and Heritage (Villa I Tatti, Harvard University Press, 2014), 207-229, 211; Regardless, in 1903 Berenson had inquired, “why is Christian art so unreligious, so unspiritual, as compared with the art of Buddhism?” “The answer was that Western art had “a fatal tendency to become science” and “an inherent incapacity for spiritual expression.” “Of European schools of design,” Berenson wrote, “none comes so close to those of the Far East as the school of Siena.” Ibid, 213.
In the medieval period the town of Siena benefitted hugely from changes wrought by wars and migrations which impacted upon its geographical, cultural and economic situation. Rather than relying on domestic wealth of the wool-manufacturing trade- as Florence had- the Sienese took advantage of the “circulation of luxury goods stimulated in part by the Mongol integration of Eurasian markets.” The leading circle of banking families in Siena who formed the “financial body” known as the Biccherna, turned their eyes towards the Silk Roads which promised trade and economic prosperity for their city. This would include the importation of Chinese silk which by 1250 was being traded in Genoa, Lucca, and Tuscany from Ayas in Armenian Cilicia via Sivas and Tabriz in Iran. Though it might be optimistic to assume established links between Siena and the Mongol empire, what Prazniak terms “cultural traces” might be looked for in the context within which leading painters like Ambrogio Lorenzetti operated. Some justification for this is due to the fact that not only did Lorenzetti paint the famous murals in the Palazzo Pubblico- which might betray “cultural traces”-; but also he devised the Mappomondo previously on display in the Mappomondo Room which might represent Siena’s position relative to the rest of the world.
 Roxann Prazniak, “Siena on the Silk Roads: Ambrogio Lorenzetti and the Mongol Global Century 1250-1350,” Journal of World History, Vol. 21, No. 2 (June 2010), 177-217, 178.
The Venetian publisher Paganino Paganani was not only responsible for the publication of the mathematician Luca Pacioli’s works, but he also brought out the first printed version of the Koran in Arabic between 1537 and 1538. A copy was discovered in 1987 by the orientalist Angela Nuovo who found it in the library of the Franciscan friars on San Michele in Isola, Venice; it is written in Arabic, though the marginalia is in Latin. It has been shown that the Venetian Koran is plagued by errors due to bad editing which if committed by an Arabian scribe would merit dire penalties. In Islamic culture the Koran was regarded as “God’s Book” whose words were imparted to the prophet Muhammed who was presumed to be illiterate, and therefore had to hire scribes to take down the holy words. Paganani ‘s carelessness with the Koran due to ignorance is hardly surprising as clearly Venetian scholars would not have known of the special requirements for this kind of scripture such that the admiration of the Koran (God’s Book) led to the rejection of all pictures and images made by human hands. It is possible as Belting says that fine calligraphy would have conveyed “the supernatural authority of the word” while Islamic authority sought for a “single, authoritative form of writing.” Calligraphy would ensure that the word became a beautiful kind of image which eventually expanded out to mosques and minarets where all could read the word of God and also appreciate it on an “aesthetic” level. In fact the scriptural reform known as khatt-al-mansub or “well-proportioned calligraphy” was introduced at the court of the Abbasid caliphs in Baghdad when Alhazen was being trained, and during this period the geometric style or girih (knot, above) became a convention of Islamic calligraphy.
 Angela Nuovo, “A Lost Arabic Koran Discovered” in “The Library,” Vol. XII, No. 4, 1990.
In the medieval period before Venice became an important artistic centre in its own right, the Venetians looked to the East in a spirit of commercial opportunism. Along with other Mediterranean cities like Amalfi, Genoa, Marseilles, Naples, Pisa, and Salerno the Venetians had been quick to spot commercial possibilities; though all of them preferred to be in competition with each other rather than band together to fight the Turkish foe. In fact, Venice had taken a share in oriental trade since the tenth century and Genoa since the eleventh; but by the time of the thirteenth- century, Venice’s sea-faring empire extended to the shores of the Black Sea, to Armenia and beyond. Returning to the idea of technological and conceptual diffusion, Venice took the “cultural technique of perspective to the Ottoman Empire only a few decades after its invention.” The conqueror of Constantinople, Sultan Mehmed II (1442-1481) wanted to open up his court to western art; but the project ended when the ruler died in 1481. During a truce with the Turks in 1479, the envoy of the Sultan conveyed the ruler’s request for “a good artist who is skilled in painting portraits.” Gentile Bellini of the famous workshop was chosen to paint a famous portrait of the Sultan (NG London above) which demonstrates the use of Venetian perspective rather than the iconic book illustration favoured in Muslim courts. The Sultan rewarded Bellini with a knighthood.
Belting’s intervention has much wider significance because it brings to light the question of why these two different cultures- Arabic and European- came to have this encounter which was characterised by different notions of how images should be seen by each culture. However, this cultural relationship should not be confined to Europe and the Arabian cultures; there is a hidden history of what Belting calls “the globalization of perspective” which includes Far Eastern countries like China and Japan who were forced to accept perspective through the missionary programmes of religious organisations like the Jesuits, some of whom were scientists. The Jesuits under the command of Matteo Ricci in Japan enlisted subtle science as well as proactive proselytising in order to convert the people of other countries to their faith. The Jesuit library in Beijing contained no less than nineteen books on perspective including works by Venetian and Roman theorists, though the Chinese unable to read the text were struck by the illustrations which they regarded as a “peculiar kind of sculpture, as they could not understand how the figures seemed to step from the surface of the page.” This evangelizing zeal extended to painting and architecture: Father Alessandro Valignano, Ricci’s superior in Rome, urged his subordinate to train Chinese artists in linear perspective; but in the end Valignano opted to move this training to Japan; he also suggested that churches in Japan did not conform to Japanese style because “theirs are synagogues of Satan and ours are churches of God.”  The Jesuits had some success with perspective in Japan- - the first workshops for teaching Japanese artists perspective were opened between 1591 and 1614- but it would not be until the eighteenth-century that Japanese artists embraced perspective (above) with pictures known as ukiye-o, “pictures of the floating world.”
 Valignano quoted in Evonne Levy, Propaganda and the Jesuit Baroque (University of California Press, 2004), 186.
 Ibid. Belting notes “western perspective encountered the least resistance in the Japanese mass media, whose prints do not count as high art. For the most part Western pictures were used for prints, so Japanese artists went on painting in the traditional manner for the elite, while the media served up Western-style “news” images to the general public.”
It is one thing for goods like silk and spice to be carried via the silk roads by individuals; it is also unsurprising to see different styles appear in Central and Far East Asia because artists and artisans, travelled, set down roots, and helped to build towns, symbols of foreign civilisations; nor would one be surprised at the spread of religions like Buddhism along the Silk Roads as is proved by the existence of the Dunhuang Caves. Yet as Wittkower rightly observed, in the age of the renaissance and baroque, diffusion took on a new aspect: not exclusively concerned with religion and commerce, diffusion encompassed “technical-know how,” scientific concepts as well as “spiritual welfare.” And with scientific innovations like perspective, one does not only have to take account of the physical distance between the West and the East; but the cultural difference, and indeed the different ways of seeing which might be seen as a side effect of technological diffusion. The history of linear perspective is well documented and need not be gone into here, but what is not studied so much is the significance of perspective in Arab cultures where it in fact originated. As Hans Belting- who has written a pioneering book on this subject- observed, perspective was introduced in the Middle Ages into Europe “by the Arab theory for which translators in Latin used the Latin term perspectiva.” And it was the work of the mathematician Al Hazen (AD 965-1040 above) that bore the title Perspectiva until 1572. As Belting explains: “Before that date “perspective” referred to a theory of vision that did not deal with pictures and images” a fact lost to “cultural memory.” In brief, the Arab “provenance of optics” did not fit with the “way the Renaissance saw itself.”
 Hans Belting, Florence and Baghdad: Renaissance Art and Arab Science (Harvard University Press, 2011), 26.
 Ibid. There is a tradition that illustrates ways of seeing by linking it to ethnology. The 13th century Polish scientist Witelo who based his investigations on Alhazen observes the difference between seeing by different peoples: “For some colours and proportions of parts of a body and of paintings are approved by a Moor, others by a Dane, and between these two extremes a German approves middling colours, heights and bearing of body, and as to each is his own custom, so to each falls his own estimation of beauty.” Quoted in David Summers, The Judgement of Sense: Renaissance Naturalism and the Rise of Aesthetics (Cambridge University Press, 1987, rep 1994), 157 n. 18.