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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

366                 Ike Contribution to Islam
can ever be adapted to the changed requirements of the twentieth
and succeeding centuries, and still retain its individual character.
Our knowledge of the history of ceramics and textiles during
the Muslim period has been immensely enriched by the excava-
tion in recent years of the rubbish-heaps of the Old City of
al-Fustat. In both these crafts the immemorial skill of the native
workman has contributed greatly to the story of Islamic art. In
particular, the collections in the Victoria and Albert Museum,
and the Metropolitan Museum of New York illustrate how
Coptic elements survived into Arab times, to be fused into
designs and fashions imported from other Muslim provinces.
Special mention should be made of the lustre ware in pottery,
for which A. J. Butler has shown Egyptian origins. Egyptian
carpet-making, though never attaining the spectacular richness
of Persian and Turkish products, nevertheless had a considerable
reputation: the rigid geometrical designs, characteristic of other
arts in Egypt, have survived to the present day in the pleasant
brown Assiut rugs. A very fine example of Egyptian pile-carpet
is preserved in the Austrian Imperial Collection at Vienna. But
on the subject of these rugs the experts are again at variance,
and geometrically patterned mats have been ascribed indiffer-
ently to Asia Minor, Damascus, and Morocco.
Under foreign influences, notably those of Mosul, the art of
engraving in metal, and particularly of silver-inlay work, attained
great perfection in Egypt during the Mamluk period, the four-
teenth century marking the peak of development. Human and
animal figures, such as are found commonly on Persian pieces,
were never featured in Egyptian work, which found ample
scope in intricate design and lettering. Good work was still
produced to within comparatively recent times: but since the
art was debased to meet the demands of tourists, the markets
are now flooded with monstrosities imitating the scenes of the
Egypt of the Pharaohs.
Superficial as this sketch of the Muslim arts has of necessity