SOAS University of London

Department of the History of Art and Archaeology, School of Arts

Seminar on the Pisa Griffin and the Mari-Cha Lion

Pisa Griffin and Mari-Cha Lion

Date: 14 February 2013Time: 9:00 AM

Finishes: 14 February 2013Time: 6:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: Khalili Lecture Theatre

Type of Event: Seminar

Probably produced within the Islamic Mediterranean in the eleventh century, the Griffin has incised on its body a long inscription in Arabic expressing good wishes. Captured by the Pisans, it underwent an extraordinary transformation: for centuries it was a sound-producing guardian figure on top of the roof of Pisa Cathedral. The present project is focused on the Griffin but also includes alongside it other bronze animal sculptures such as the Mari-Cha Lion and the Lucca Falcon. It is hoped that the interdisciplinary study of the Griffin will shed light on the significance of such objects in a global Mediterranean culture.  
Group photo - Seminar on the Pisa Griffin and the Mari-Cha Lion
The seminar speakers on the steps of SOAS, Main Building

This seminar is intended to further our understanding of these bronze objects by sharing the results of the scientific analyses and the historical and art-historical investigations that have taken place in the last ten years. Part of the Research Seminar in Islamic Art, it is intended for scholars working in fields related to the Griffin and associated themes. The format of the seminar will be an introduction followed by a series of tightly focused presentations on the Pisa Griffin, Mari-Cha Lion, Lucca Falcon and related objects such as the Monzon Lion and the Cagliari Peacock. Central to them will be the questions: what are these objects?, where and when were they made?, what was the context of their production and what was their original function?, what has happened to them since?, and how can technical analyses help our investigations?

The presentations are intended to lead to an open conversation on all these topics and to a productive exchange of views.

9.00Welcome - Timon Screech (SOAS, University of London)
Chair: Alison Ohta (Royal Asiatic Society)
9.10Anna Contadini (SOAS, University of London) Introduction and overview of studies
9.25Gabriella Garzella (Pisa University) Historical background of Pisa in the Middle Ages
9.35Richard Camber (London)The Lion and possible connections with Southern Italian art
Chair: Antony Eastmond (Courtauld Institute)
10.45Peter Northover (University of Oxford) Metal analyses on the Griffin and the Lion
10.55Walter Fasnacht  (Inter-Community School, Zürich) Copper in Cyprus
11.05Matthew Ponting (University of Liverpool) Fatimid metallurgy
11.15Peter Northover (University of Oxford) Casting techniques of the Lion
11.25Mirco Bassi (Opera del Duomo, Pisa) Casting techniques of the Griffin
11.55David Sharp (Open University) Acoustic
12.05Maurice Merrell (Bishop & Son) The sound of the Griffin and the Lion
Chair: Tim Stanley (Victoria and Albert Museum)
2.00Roberto Scopigno (Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Pisa) The Griffin and the latest 3D technology
2.10Marco Callieri (Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Pisa) The Griffin and Lion in 3D
2.20Mirco Bassi (Opera del Duomo, Pisa) Decoration and tools on the Pisa Griffin
2.30Julian Raby (Freer Gallery of Art) The inscriptions on the Griffin
2.40Rachel Ward (London) The animals engraved on the Griffin and Lion
Chair: Venetia Porter (British Museum)
3.40Sophie Makariou (Musée du Louvre) The Monzon Lion and the Peacock at the Louvre
3.50William Greenwood (Museum of Islamic Art, Doha) The Doha Hind
4.00Damiano Anedda (Cagliari University) The Cagliari Peacock
4.10Anna Ballian (Benaki Museum, Athens) The Sinai predatory bird
4.20Anna Contadini (SOAS, University of London) The Lucca Falcon
5.00Julian Raby (Freer Gallery of Art) Concluding remarks

By invitation only.

Organiser: Organized and convened by Professor Anna Contadini, and the Centres & Programmes Office

Contact email:

Contact Tel: 020 7898 4892/3