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Sara Kuehn
1966,  Female ,  German

Trained as an art historian (PhD in Islamic art and archaeology, Free University of Berlin, 2008) and working on religious symbolism for more than 20 years, Dr Sara Kuehn studies religion from a cross-cultural comparative perspective. With a dual background of Islamic and Chinese/Japanese art histories (BA in Chinese and Japanese Art and Archaeology, International Christian University, Tokyo, 1991, and MA in Islamic art and archaeology, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 1998), combined with a museum career, she specializes in the artistic and cultural relationship between the Islamic world and Western Asia and has conducted extensive fieldwork in these regions. In so doing, she seeks to synthesize grounded fieldwork and theoretical reflection in a broad multidisciplinary setting. Her main research foci are religious visual culture in an interreligious perspective; cosmographies and imaginary journeys; angels and angelology; migration and cross-cultural dimensions of objects, ideas and images. Her recent book The Dragon in Medieval East Christian and Islamic Art (with a Foreword by Robert Hillenbrand, Brill: Leiden, Boston, 2011) won the 2013 World Prize for the Book of the Year of the Islamic Republic of Iran. She is presently writing her habilitation thesis on “Hybrid Creatures in Western Asia from 2500 BCE to 650 CE” at the Institute for the Study of Religions, University of Vienna.


1. “Pilgrimage as Muslim Religious Commemoration: The Case of Ajvatovica in Bosnia-Herzegovina,” Muslim Pilgrimage in Europe, eds. I. Flaskerud and R.J. Natvig, Ashgate: Ashgate Studies in Pilgrimage, ed. J. Eade (scheduled for publication in 2016).
2. “Symbolic Characteristics of the Practice of Spiritual Retreat (Khalwa) in the Teachings of Sayyid Yahya al-Shirwani al-Bakubi and His Spiritual Lineage,” The Khalwatiyya Soufi Order L’Ordre soufi Khalwatiyya, Journal d’Histoire du Soufisme (JHS), ed. Zarcone, vol. 7 (scheduled for publication in 2016).
3. “Ganymede and the Eagle’: Variations of an Airborne Theme in the Iranian World? Modes of Rendition of Spiritual Ascent in Persianate Tradition,” The Visual World of Persianate Culture. ed. Y. Kadoi, Edinburhg: Edinburgh University Press (scheduled for publcation in 2016).
4. “The Interplay of the Angels and the Prophet Muhammad in the Earliest Images of the Prophet in Islamic Art,” Comparative Medieval Angelology Volume, ed. J.A. Greelay, Turnout: Brepols (scheduled for publication in 2016).
5. “Bektashi Religious Visual Culture in the Western Balkans,” Octa Orientalia 69 (scheduled for publication in 2016).
6. “The Eclipse Demons Rahu and Ketu in Islamic Astral Sciences,” in Umbra: Demonology as a Semiotic System, eds. D. Antonov and O. Khristoforova, Issue 5, Noscow: Indrik (scheduled for publication in 2016).
7. “On Beauty in the ‘illuminist Vision’ of Suhrawardi Maqtul,” Aesthetics of the Sublime: Religious Texts and Rhetorical Theory, eds. S. Dorpmuller, I. Weinrich, M. Stille and J. Scholz, Heidelberg: Springer (scheduled for publication in 2016; submitted 2013).
8. “Visions of the Universe in the Religious Symbol System of Third-Millennium B.C. Bactria-Margiana,” Transactions of the Margiana Archaeological Expedition: In Memory of Professor Victor Sarianidi 6, Moscow (scheduled for publication in 2016).
9. “Twelver Shi’i Components in Contemporary Bektasi Visual Piety in the Western Balkans?: A Note on Bektasi Visual Culture,” NEC Institute for Advanced Study Yearbook 2013-2014, ed. I. Vainovski-Mihai, Bucharest 2015, pp. 289-334.
10. “The Dargon in Medieval Islamic Astrology and Its Indian and Iranian Influences,” Proceedings of the Indo-Mongol Colloquium, 01-04 February, 2012, Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi, 2015.
11. “Vestiges of the Ouroboros in Medieval Islamic Visual Tradition,” Proceedings of the 9th International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East (ICAANE), Wiesbaden: Harrassoqitz, 2016, pp. 169-82.
12. “The Dragon Fighter: The Influence of Zoroastrian Ideas on Judaeo-Christian and Islamic Iconography,” Zoroastrianism in the Levant, ARAM Periodical (ARAM Society for Syro-Mesopotamian Studies), vol. 26, 1 and 2, Leuven: Peeters 2014, pp. 65-101.
13. “Ungeheuer als Träger lebensspendender Macht? Transreligiöse Migrationen einer alten Symbolik im Vorderen Orient (9-14. Jh.),” EOTHEN VI, 2014, pp. 168-88.
14. “Escaping the Jaws of Death’: Some Visual Conceptualisations in Late Medieval Islamic and Eastern Christian Art,” in Umbra: Demonology as a Semiotic System, eds. D. Antonov and O. Khristoforova, Issue 3, Moscow: Indrik, 2014, pp. 133-64.
15. “The Dragon in Transcultural Skies: Its Celestial Aspect in the Medieval Islamic World,” Spirits in Transcultural Skies, Transcultural Research – Heidelberg Studies on Asia and Europe in a Global Context, eds. N. Gutschow and K. Weiler, Heidelberg: Springer, 2014, pp. 71-97.
16. “Reverberations of the Life and Work of the Seventeenth-Century Bosnian Shaykh and Poet Hasan Qa’imi,” Transcendent Philosophy Journal 13, 2012, pp. 149-76.
17. “On the Role of the Ophidian and the Quadruped Dragon within the Iconography of the Mythological Scheme of the Oxus Civilisation,” On the Track of Uncovering a Civilization. A Volume in Honor of the 80th Anniversary of Victor Sarianidi, Transactions of the Margiana Archarological Expedition, vol. 3, Moscow-St. Petersburg: Aletya, November 2009, pp. 43-67.
18. “Tilework on Funerary Monuments of the 12th to 14th Century in Konya Urgench (Gurganj),” Arts of Asia March-April 2007, vol. 38, no. 2, pp. 1-18.
19. “Towards the Dragon and the Mythical Bird: Tracing Possible Antecedents for some Elements of Khitan Iconography,” Arts of Asia September-October 2006, vol. 36, no. 5, pp. 76-88.

Books by Sara Kuehn
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