REFERENCE EXTERNAL LINKS: "Forging Islamic science" by Nir Shafir

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A Modern-day Forgery, Masquerading as a Medieval Illustration!

A modern-day forgery, masquerading as a medieval illustration!

According to scholar Nir Shafir, Assistant Professor of History at University of California, San Diego, this is a fake produced for the tourist market – a modern-day forgery, masquerading as a medieval illustration. They take old leaves of manuscripts and partially paint over them. The text is in Persian and mentions mineralogy/chemistry. This one was probably made in south Asia, not Turkey, and the page it was painted on looks like an old printed text, possibly a lithograph, and is in Persian.

In his article “Forging Islamic science” he says that “Fake miniatures depicting Islamic science have found their way into the most august of libraries and history books. How? ….These contemporary images are in fact not ‘reproductions’ but ‘productions’ and even fakes – made to appeal to a contemporary audience by claiming to depict the science of a distant Islamic past. They have have found their way into conference posters, education websites, and museum and library collections.

The problem goes beyond gullible tourists and the occasional academic being duped: many of those who study and publicly present the history of Islamic science have committed themselves to a similar sort of fakery. There now exist entire museums filled with reimagined objects, fashioned in the past 20 years but intended to represent the venerable scientific traditions of the Islamic world. The irony is that these fake miniatures and objects are the product of a well-intentioned desire: a desire to integrate Muslims into a global political community through the universal narrative of science. That wish seems all the more pressing in the face of a rising tide of Islamophobia.

Even if its imitations look crude, they still find audiences – such as those who visit the 2013 ‘Science in Islam’ exhibition website at the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford. What drives the spread of these images and objects is the desire to use some totemic vision of science to redeem Islam – as a religion, culture or people – from the Islamophobia of recent times. In the case of the false miniatures, many are painted on the ripped-out pages of centuries-old manuscripts to add to their historicity, literally destroying authentic artifacts to craft new forgeries.