Slavs and Tatars: Mirrors for Princes

Downey, Anthony (2015) Slavs and Tatars: Mirrors for Princes. JRP Ringier, Zurich. ISBN 978-3-03764-407-2

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The contribution to medieval advice literature for future rulers, from the Turkic, Slavic and Uighur region, is seldom written about in terms of cultural practices in contemporary art. In its exploration of the modern day notions of self-help, wisdom, advice and good counsel, Slavs and Tatars: Mirrors for Princes re-animates the ideals medieval advice literature and proposes an expanded field of research within which to understand the ‘mirrors of princes’ genre alongside the present-day relevance of Yusuf Khass Hajib’s 11th century text Kutadgu Bilig (which is to Turkic languages what Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh is to Persian, Beowulf to English, or Nibelungen to German).

A central component in this lineage of advice literature — of which Machiavelli’s The Prince is the most widely known example — is the promotion of both self-grooming and the ideal of statecraft for the purpose of governance.The expansive context of the original genre of ‘mirrors for princes’, its universalist and yet esoteric import, is distilled in this volume into a number of objects produced by Slavs and Tatars which suggest both self-grooming and the elevation of statecraft throughout the Middle Ages. The texts in this volume, likewise, speak to both the unique approach of the artists to this subject matter and to the importance of Kutadgu Bilig in understanding the historical relationship between statecraft (dawla) and faith/religion (din). In doing so, both artists and writers produce further original research on what precisely this means in present day ideals of governance and statist forms of managerialism.

For an audience encountering the artist’s works, the relatively obscure objectives of tomes such as Kutadgu Bilig are given over to a permissive linguistic and conceptual practice that promotes the latter’s relevance for today and brings its importance as a scholarly text to the fore. How, this volume asks, were forms of political writing, often called advice literature (or fürstenspiegel), shared by Christian and Muslim lands during the Middle Ages? And how are we to understand how the genre of medieval advice literature acted as a starting point to discuss fate and fortune, versus governance, and the translation of statecraft into its modern-day equivalent, namely, public relations and so-called spin doctoring, all being key themes in the artists’ work.

Item Type: Book
Additional Information: From the publisher's website: This publication brings together the writing of preeminent scholars and commentators using the genre of medieval advice literature as a starting point to discuss fate and fortune versus governance, advice for female nobility, and an Indian television drama as a form of translation of statecraft. The illustrated essays are accompanied by an interview with Slavs and Tatars.
Date: 28 February 2015
Subjects: CAH02 - subjects allied to medicine > CAH02-06 - allied health > CAH02-06-01 - health sciences (non-specific)
L200 Politics
L300 Sociology
L600 Anthropology
L900 Others in Social studies
Q100 Linguistics
Q400 Ancient Language studies
Q900 Others in Linguistics, Classics and related subjects
T300 South Asian studies
T400 Other Asian studies
T600 Modern Middle Eastern studies
T900 Others in Eastern, Asiatic, African, American and Australasian Languages, Literature and related subjects
V200 History by area
V500 Philosophy
V600 Theology and Religious studies
W100 Fine Art
W900 Others in Creative Arts and Design
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > Birmingham Institute of Creative Arts > Birmingham School of Art
Depositing User: Anthony Downey
Date Deposited: 30 Nov 2017 16:10
Last Modified: 06 Sep 2021 15:39

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