September 2, 2019 0

Islamic art | Wikipedia audio article

Islamic art | Wikipedia audio article

Islamic art encompasses the visual arts produced
from the 7th century onward by people who lived within the territory that was inhabited
by or ruled by culturally Islamic populations. It is thus a very difficult art to define
because it covers many lands and various peoples over some 1,400 years; it is not art specifically
of a religion, or of a time, or of a place, or of a single medium like painting. The huge
field of Islamic architecture is the subject of a separate article, leaving fields as varied
as calligraphy, painting, glass, pottery, and textile arts such as carpets and embroidery.
Islamic art is not at all restricted to religious art, but includes all the art of the rich
and varied cultures of Islamic societies as well. It frequently includes secular elements
and elements that are frowned upon, if not forbidden, by some Islamic theologians. Apart
from the ever-present calligraphic inscriptions, specifically religious art is actually less
prominent in Islamic art than in Western medieval art, with the exception of Islamic architecture
where mosques and their complexes of surrounding buildings are the most common remains. Figurative
painting may cover religious scenes, but normally in essentially secular contexts such as the
walls of palaces or illuminated books of poetry. The calligraphy and decoration of manuscript
Qur’ans is an important aspect, but other religious art such as glass mosque lamps and
other mosque fittings such as tiles (e.g. Girih tiles), woodwork and carpets usually
have the same style and motifs as contemporary secular art, although with religious inscriptions
even more prominent. “Islamic art developed from many sources:
Roman, Early Christian art, and Byzantine styles were taken over in early Islamic art
and architecture; the influence of the Sassanian art of pre-Islamic Persia was of paramount
significance; Central Asian styles were brought in with various nomadic incursions; and Chinese
influences had a formative effect on Islamic painting, pottery, and textiles.” Though the
whole concept of “Islamic art” has been criticised by some modern art historians, calling it
a “figment of imagination” or a “mirage”, the similarities between art produced at widely
different times and places in the Islamic world, especially in the Islamic Golden Age,
have been sufficient to keep the term in wide use by scholars.There are repeating elements
in Islamic art, such as the use of geometrical floral or vegetal designs in a repetition
known as the arabesque. The arabesque in Islamic art is often used to symbolize the transcendent,
indivisible and infinite nature of God. Mistakes in repetitions may be intentionally introduced
as a show of humility by artists who believe only God can produce perfection, although
this theory is disputed.Typically, though not entirely, Islamic art has focused on the
depiction of patterns, whether purely geometric or floral, and Arabic calligraphy, rather
than on figures, because it is feared by many Muslims that the depiction of the human form
is idolatry and thereby a sin against God, forbidden in the Qur’an. Human portrayals
can be found in all eras of Islamic art, above all in the more private form of miniatures,
where their absence is rare. Human representation for the purpose of worship is considered idolatry
and is duly forbidden in some interpretations of Islamic law, known as Sharia law. There
are also many depictions of Muhammad, Islam’s chief prophet, in historical Islamic art.
Small decorative figures of animals and humans, especially if they are hunting the animals,
are found on secular pieces in many media from many periods, but portraits were slow
to develop.==Calligraphy==Calligraphic design is omnipresent in Islamic
art, where, as in Europe in the Middle Ages, religious exhortations, including Qur’anic
verses, may be included in secular objects, especially coins, tiles and metalwork, and
most painted miniatures include some script, as do many buildings. Use of Islamic calligraphy
in architecture extended significantly outside of Islamic territories; one notable example
is the use of Chinese calligraphy of Arabic verses from the Qur’an in the Great Mosque
of Xi’an. Other inscriptions include verses of poetry, and inscriptions recording ownership
or donation. Two of the main scripts involved are the symbolic kufic and naskh scripts,
which can be found adorning and enhancing the visual appeal of the walls and domes of
buildings, the sides of minbars, and metalwork. Islamic calligraphy in the form of painting
or sculptures are sometimes referred to as quranic art.East Persian pottery from the
9th to 11th centuries decorated only with highly stylised inscriptions, called “epigraphic
ware”, has been described as “probably the most refined and sensitive of all Persian
pottery”. Large inscriptions made from tiles, sometimes with the letters raised in relief,
or the background cut away, are found on the interiors and exteriors of many important
buildings. Complex carved calligraphy also decorates buildings. For most of the Islamic
period the majority of coins only showed lettering, which are often very elegant despite their
small size and nature of production. The tughra or monogram of an Ottoman sultan was used
extensively on official documents, with very elaborate decoration for important ones. Other
single sheets of calligraphy, designed for albums, might contain short poems, Qur’anic
verses, or other texts. The main languages, all using Arabic script,
are Arabic, always used for Qur’anic verses, Persian in the Persianate world, especially
for poetry, and Turkish, with Urdu appearing in later centuries. Calligraphers usually
had a higher status than other artists.==Painting==Although there has been a tradition of wall-paintings,
especially in the Persianate world, the best-surviving and highest developed form of painting in
the Islamic world is the miniature in illuminated manuscripts, or later as a single page for
inclusion in a muraqqa or bound album of miniatures and calligraphy. The tradition of the Persian
miniature has been dominant since about the 13th century, strongly influencing the Ottoman
miniature of Turkey and the Mughal miniature in India. Miniatures were especially an art
of the court, and because they were not seen in public, it has been argued that constraints
on the depiction of the human figure were much more relaxed, and indeed miniatures often
contain great numbers of small figures, and from the 16th century portraits of single
ones. Although surviving early examples are now uncommon, human figurative art was a continuous
tradition in Islamic lands in secular contexts, notably several of the Umayyad Desert Castles
(c. 660-750), and during the Abbasid Caliphate (c. 749–1258).The largest commissions of
illustrated books were usually classics of Persian poetry such as the epic Shahnameh,
although the Mughals and Ottomans both produced lavish manuscripts of more recent history
with the autobiographies of the Mughal emperors, and more purely military chronicles of Turkish
conquests. Portraits of rulers developed in the 16th century, and later in Persia, then
becoming very popular. Mughal portraits, normally in profile, are very finely drawn in a realist
style, while the best Ottoman ones are vigorously stylized. Album miniatures typically featured
picnic scenes, portraits of individuals or (in India especially) animals, or idealized
youthful beauties of either sex. Chinese influences included the early adoption
of the vertical format natural to a book, which led to the development of a birds-eye
view where a very carefully depicted background of hilly landscape or palace buildings rises
up to leave only a small area of sky. The figures are arranged in different planes on
the background, with recession (distance from the viewer) indicated by placing more distant
figures higher up in the space, but at essentially the same size. The colours, which are often
very well preserved, are strongly contrasting, bright and clear. The tradition reached a
climax in the 16th and early 17th centuries, but continued until the early 19th century,
and has been revived in the 20th.==Rugs and carpets==No Islamic artistic product has become better
known outside the Islamic world than the pile carpet, more commonly referred to as the Oriental
carpet (oriental rug). Their versatility is utilized in everyday Islamic and Muslim life,
from floor coverings to architectural enrichment, from cushions to bolsters to bags and sacks
of all shapes and sizes, and to religious objects (such as a prayer rug, which would
provide a clean place to pray). They have been a major export to other areas since the
late Middle Ages, used to cover not only floors but tables, for long a widespread European
practice that is now common only in the Netherlands. Carpet weaving is a rich and deeply embedded
tradition in Islamic societies, and the practice is seen in large city factories as well as
in rural communities and nomadic encampments. In earlier periods, special establishments
and workshops were in existence that functioned directly under court patronage. Very early Islamic carpets, i.e. those before
the 16th century, are extremely rare. More have survived in the West and oriental carpets
in Renaissance painting from Europe are a major source of information on them, as they
were valuable imports that were painted accurately. The most natural and easy designs for a carpet
weaver to produce consist of straight lines and edges, and the earliest Islamic carpets
to survive or be shown in paintings have geometric designs, or centre on very stylized animals,
made up in this way. Since the flowing loops and curves of the arabesque are central to
Islamic art, the interaction and tension between these two styles was long a major feature
of carpet design. There are a few survivals of the grand Egyptian
16th century carpets, including one almost as good as new discovered in the attic of
the Pitti Palace in Florence, whose complex patterns of octagon roundels and stars, in
just a few colours, shimmer before the viewer. Production of this style of carpet began under
the Mamluks but continued after the Ottomans conquered Egypt. The other sophisticated tradition
was the Persian carpet which reached its peak in the 16th and early 17th century in works
like the Ardabil Carpet and Coronation Carpet; during this century the Ottoman and Mughal
courts also began to sponsor the making in their domains of large formal carpets, evidently
with the involvement of designers used to the latest court style in the general Persian
tradition. These use a design style shared with non-figurative Islamic illumination and
other media, often with a large central gul motif, and always with wide and strongly demarcated
borders. The grand designs of the workshops patronized by the court spread out to smaller
carpets for the merely wealthy and for export, and designs close to those of the 16th and
17th centuries are still produced in large numbers today. The description of older carpets
has tended to use the names of carpet-making centres as labels, but often derived from
the design rather than any actual evidence that they originated from around that centre.
Research has clarified that designs were by no means always restricted to the centre they
are traditionally associated with, and the origin of many carpets remains unclear.
As well as the major Persian, Turkish and Arab centres, carpets were also made across
Central Asia, in India, and in Spain and the Balkans. Spanish carpets, which sometimes
interrupted typical Islamic patterns to include coats of arms, enjoyed high prestige in Europe,
being commissioned by royalty and for the Papal Palace, Avignon, and the industry continued
after the Reconquista. Armenian carpet-weaving is mentioned by many early sources, and may
account for a much larger proportion of East Turkish and Caucasian production than traditionally
thought. The Berber carpets of North Africa have a distinct design tradition. Apart from
the products of city workshops, in touch with trading networks that might carry the carpets
to markets far away, there was also a large and widespread village and nomadic industry
producing work that stayed closer to traditional local designs. As well as pile carpets, kelims
and other types of flat-weave or embroidered textiles were produced, for use on both floors
and walls. Figurative designs, sometimes with large human figures, are very popular in Islamic
countries but relatively rarely exported to the West, where abstract designs are generally
what the market expects.==Architecture==
Main article: Islamic Architecture Views of Islamic Art are widely seen through
Eurocentrism which coins the term Orientalism. The East has dominant control over most interpretations
while infiltrating in their prejudice perceptional views. It is also important to note the Western
linear theory of evolution in cultures that suggests progress began in the East and later
translated to the West.==Ceramics==Islamic art has very notable achievements
in ceramics, both in pottery and tiles for walls, which in the absence of wall-paintings
were taken to heights unmatched by other cultures. Early pottery is often unglazed, but tin-opacified
glazing was one of the earliest new technologies developed by the Islamic potters. The first
Islamic opaque glazes can be found as blue-painted ware in Basra, dating to around the 8th century.
Another significant contribution was the development of stonepaste ceramics, originating from 9th
century Iraq. The first industrial complex for glass and pottery production was built
in Raqqa, Syria, in the 8th century. Other centers for innovative pottery in the Islamic
world included Fustat (from 975 to 1075), Damascus (from 1100 to around 1600) and Tabriz
(from 1470 to 1550). Lusterwares with iridescent colours may have continued pre-Islamic Roman
and Byzantine techniques, but were either invented or considerably developed on pottery
and glass in Persia and Syria from the 9th century onwards.Islamic pottery was often
influenced by Chinese ceramics, whose achievements were greatly admired and emulated. This was
especially the case in the periods after the Mongol invasions and those of the Timurids.
Techniques, shapes and decorative motifs were all affected. Until the Early Modern period
Western ceramics had very little influence, but Islamic pottery was very sought after
in Europe, and often copied. An example of this is the albarello, a type of maiolica
earthenware jar originally designed to hold apothecaries’ ointments and dry drugs. The
development of this type of pharmacy jar had its roots in the Islamic Middle East. Hispano-Moresque
examples were exported to Italy, stimulating the earliest Italian examples, from 15th century
Florence. The Hispano-Moresque style emerged in Al-Andaluz
or Muslim Spain in the 8th century, under Egyptian influence, but most of the best production
was much later, by potters presumed to have been largely Muslim but working in areas reconquered
by the Christian kingdoms. It mixed Islamic and European elements in its designs, and
much was exported across neighbouring European countries. It had introduced two ceramic techniques
to Europe: glazing with an opaque white tin-glaze, and painting in metallic lusters. Ottoman
İznik pottery produced most of the best work in the 16th century, in tiles and large vessels
boldly decorated with floral motifs influenced, once again, by Chinese Yuan and Ming ceramics.
These were still in earthenware; there was no porcelain made in Islamic countries until
modern times, though Chinese porcelain was imported and admired.The medieval Islamic
world also had pottery with painted animal and human imagery. Examples are found throughout
the medieval Islamic world, particularly in Persia and Egypt.===Tiling===The earliest grand Islamic buildings, like
the Dome of the Rock, in Jerusalem had interior walls decorated with mosaics in the Byzantine
style, but without human figures. From the 9th century onwards the distinctive Islamic
tradition of glazed and brightly coloured tiling for interior and exterior walls and
domes developed. Some earlier schemes create designs using mixtures of tiles each of a
single colour that are either cut to shape or are small and of a few shapes, used to
create abstract geometric patterns. Later large painted schemes use tiles painted before
firing with a part of the scheme – a technique requiring confidence in the consistent results
of firing. Some elements, especially the letters of inscriptions,
may be moulded in three-dimensional relief, and in especially in Persia certain tiles
in a design may have figurative painting of animals or single human figures. These were
often part of designs mostly made up of tiles in plain colours but with larger fully painted
tiles at intervals. The larger tiles are often shaped as eight-pointed stars, and may show
animals or a human head or bust, or plant or other motifs. The geometric patterns, such
as modern North African zellige work, made of small tiles each of a single colour but
different and regular shapes, are often referred to as “mosaic”, which is not strictly correct.
The Mughals made much less use of tiling, preferring (and being able to afford) “parchin
kari”, a type of pietra dura decoration from inlaid panels of semi-precious stones, with
jewels in some cases. This can be seen at the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and other imperial
commissions. The motifs are usually floral, in a simpler and more realistic style than
Persian or Turkish work, relating to plants in Mughal miniatures.==Glass==For most of the Middle Ages Islamic glass
was the most sophisticated in Eurasia, exported to both Europe and China. Islam took over
much of the traditional glass-producing territory of Sassanian and Ancient Roman glass, and
since figurative decoration played a small part in pre-Islamic glass, the change in style
is not abrupt, except that the whole area initially formed a political whole, and, for
example, Persian innovations were now almost immediately taken up in Egypt. For this reason
it is often impossible to distinguish between the various centres of production, of which
Egypt, Syria and Persia were the most important, except by scientific analysis of the material,
which itself has difficulties. From various documentary references glassmaking and glass
trading seems to have been a speciality of the Jewish minority in several centres. Between the 8th and early 11th centuries the
emphasis in luxury glass is on effects achieved by “manipulating the surface” of the glass,
initially by incising into the glass on a wheel, and later by cutting away the background
to leave a design in relief. The very massive Hedwig glasses, only found in Europe, but
normally considered Islamic (or possibly from Muslim craftsmen in Norman Sicily), are an
example of this, though puzzlingly late in date. These and other glass pieces probably
represented cheaper versions of vessels of carved rock crystal (clear quartz), themselves
influenced by earlier glass vessels, and there is some evidence that at this period glass
cutting and hardstone carving were regarded as the same craft. From the 12th century the
industry in Persia and Mesopotamia appears to decline, and the main production of luxury
glass shifts to Egypt and Syria, and decorative effects of colour on smooth surfaced glass.
Throughout the period local centres made simpler wares such as Hebron glass in Palestine.
Lustre painting, by techniques similar to lustreware in pottery, dates back to the 8th
century in Egypt, and became widespread in the 12th century. Another technique was decoration
with threads of glass of a different colour, worked into the main surface, and sometimes
manipulated by combing and other effects. Gilded, painted and enamelled glass were added
to the repertoire, and shapes and motifs borrowed from other media, such as pottery and metalwork.
Some of the finest work was in mosque lamps donated by a ruler or wealthy man. As decoration
grew more elaborate, the quality of the basic glass decreased, and it “often has a brownish-yellow
tinge, and is rarely free from bubbles”. Aleppo seems to have ceased to be a major centre
after the Mongol invasion of 1260, and Timur appears to have ended the Syrian industry
about 1400 by carrying off the skilled workers to Samarkand. By about 1500 the Venetians
were receiving large orders for mosque lamps.==Metalwork==Medieval Islamic metalwork offers a complete
contrast to its European equivalent, which is dominated by modelled figures and brightly
coloured decoration in enamel, some pieces entirely in precious metals. In contrast surviving
Islamic metalwork consists of practical objects mostly in brass, bronze, and steel, with simple,
but often monumental, shapes, and surfaces highly decorated with dense decoration in
a variety of techniques, but colour mostly restricted to inlays of gold, silver, copper
or black niello. The most abundant survivals from medieval periods are fine brass objects,
handsome enough to preserve, but not valuable enough to be melted down. The abundant local
sources of zinc compared to tin explains the rarity of bronze. Household items, such as
ewers or water pitchers, were made of one or more pieces of sheet brass soldered together
and subsequently worked and inlaid.The use of drinking and eating vessels in gold and
silver, the ideal in ancient Rome and Persia as well as medieval Christian societies, is
prohibited by the Hadiths, as was the wearing of gold rings. One thing Islamic metalworkers
shared with European ones was high social status compared to other artists and craftsmen,
and many larger pieces are signed. Islamic work includes some three-dimensional
animal figures as fountainheads or aquamaniles, but only one significant enamelled object
is known, using Byzantine cloisonne techniques. The Pisa Griffin is the largest surviving
bronze animal, probably from 11th century Al-Andaluz. More common objects given elaborate
decoration include massive low candlesticks and lamp-stands, lantern lights, bowls, dishes,
basins, buckets (these probably for the bath), and ewers, as well as caskets, pen-cases and
plaques. Ewers and basins were brought for hand-washing before and after each meal, so
are often lavishly treated display pieces. A typical 13th century ewer from Khorasan
is decorated with foliage, animals and the Signs of the Zodiac in silver and copper,
and carries a blessing. Specialized objects include knives, arms and armour (always of
huge interest to the elite) and scientific instruments such as astrolabes, as well as
jewellery. Decoration is typically densely packed and very often includes arabesques
and calligraphy, sometimes naming an owner and giving a date.==Other applied arts==High levels of achievement were reached in
other materials, including hardstone carvings and jewellery, ivory carving, textiles and
leatherwork. During the Middle Ages, Islamic work in these fields was highly valued in
other parts of the world and often traded outside the Islamic zone. Apart from miniature
painting and calligraphy, other arts of the book are decorative illumination, the only
type found in Qur’an manuscripts, and Islamic book covers, which are often highly decorative
in luxury manuscripts, using either the geometric motifs found in illumination, or sometimes
figurative images probably drawn for the craftsmen by miniature painters. Materials include coloured,
tooled and stamped leather and lacquer over paint.===Precious stones===
Egyptian carving of rock crystal into vessels appears in the late 10th century, and virtually
disappears after about 1040. There are a number of these vessels in the West, which apparently
came on the market after the Cairo palace of the Fatimid Caliph was looted by his mercenaries
in 1062, and were snapped up by European buyers, mostly ending up in church treasuries. From
later periods, especially the hugely wealthy Ottoman and Mughal courts, there are a considerable
number of lavish objects carved in semi-precious stones, with little surface decoration, but
inset with jewels. Such objects may have been made in earlier periods, but few have survived.===House and furniture===Older wood carving is typically relief or
pierced work on flat objects for architectural use, such as screens, doors, roofs, beams
and friezes. An important exception are the complex muqarnas and mocárabe designs giving
roofs and other architectural elements a stalactite-like appearance. These are often in wood, sometimes
painted on the wood but often plastered over before painting; the examples at the Alhambra
in Granada, Spain are among the best known. Traditional Islamic furniture, except for
chests, tended to be covered with cushions, with cupboards rather than cabinets for storage,
but there are some pieces, including a low round (strictly twelve-sided) table of about
1560 from the Ottoman court, with marquetry inlays in light wood, and a single huge ceramic
tile or plaque on the tabletop. The fine inlays typical of Ottoman court furniture may have
developed from styles and techniques used in weapons and musical instruments, for which
the finest craftsmanship available was used. There are also intricately decorated caskets
and chests from various periods. A spectacular and famous (and far from flat) roof was one
of the Islamic components of the 12th century Norman Cappella Palatina in Palermo, which
picked from the finest elements of Catholic, Byzantine and Islamic art. Other famous wooden
roofs are in the Alhambra in Granada.===Ivory===Ivory carving centred on the Mediterranean,
spreading from Egypt, where a thriving Coptic industry had been inherited; Persian ivory
is rare. The normal style was a deep relief with an even surface; some pieces were painted.
Spain specialized in caskets and round boxes, which were probably used to keep jewels and
perfumes. They were produced mainly in the approximate period 930–1050, and widely
exported. Many pieces are signed and dated, and on court pieces the name of the owner
is often inscribed; they were typically gifts from a ruler. As well as a court workshop,
Cordoba had commercial workshops producing goods of slightly lower quality. In the 12th
and 13th century workshops in Norman Sicily produced caskets, apparently then migrating
to Granada and elsewhere after persecution. Egyptian work tended to be in flat panels
and friezes, for insertion into woodwork and probably furniture – most are now detached
from their settings. Many were calligraphic, and others continued Byzantine traditions
of hunting scenes, with backgrounds of arabesques and foliage in both cases.===Silk===
Despite Hadithic sayings against the wearing of silk, the Byzantine and Sassanian traditions
of grand figured silk woven cloth continued under Islam. Some designs are calligraphic,
especially when made for palls to cover a tomb, but more are surprisingly conservative
versions of the earlier traditions, with many large figures of animals, especially majestic
symbols of power like the lion and eagle. These are often enclosed in roundels, as found
in the pre-Islamic traditions. The majority of early silks have been recovered from tombs,
and in Europe reliquaries, where the relics were often wrapped in silk. European clergy
and nobility were keen buyers of Islamic silk from an early date and, for example, the body
of an early bishop of Toul in France was wrapped in a silk from the Bukhara area in modern
Uzbekistan, probably when the body was reburied in 820. The Shroud of St Josse is a famous
samite cloth from East Persia, which originally had a carpet-like design with two pairs of
confronted elephants, surrounded by borders including rows of camels and an inscription
in Kufic script, from which the date appears to be before 961. Other silks were used for
clothes, hangings, altarcloths, and church vestments, which have nearly all been lost,
except for some vestments. Ottoman silks were less exported, and the
many surviving royal kaftans have simpler geometric patterns, many featuring stylized
“tiger-stripes” below three balls or circles. Other silks have foliage designs comparable
to those on Iznik pottery or carpets, with bands forming ogival compartments a popular
motif. Some designs begin to show Italian influence. By the 16th century Persian silk
was using smaller patterns, many of which showed relaxed garden scenes of beautiful
boys and girls from the same world as those in contemporary album miniatures, and sometimes
identifiable scenes from Persian poetry. A 16th-century circular ceiling for a tent,
97 cm across, shows a continuous and crowded hunting scene; it was apparently looted by
the army of Suleiman the Magnificent in his invasion of Persia in 1543–45, before being
taken by a Polish general at the Siege of Vienna in 1683. Mughal silks incorporate many
Indian elements, and often feature relatively realistic “portraits” of plants, as found
in other media.===Indonesian batik===The development and refinement of Indonesian
batik cloth was closely linked to Islam. The Islamic prohibition on certain images encouraged
batik design to become more abstract and intricate. Realistic depictions of animals and humans
are rare on traditional batik. However, mythical serpents, humans with exaggerated features
and the Garuda of pre-Islamic mythology are common motifs.
Although its existence pre-dates Islam, batik reached its zenith in royal Muslim courts
such as Mataram and Yogyakarta, whose sultans encouraged and patronised batik production.
Today, batik is undergoing a revival, and cloths are used for additional purposes such
as wrapping the Quran.==History=====Beginnings=======Pre-dynastic====The period of a rapid expansion of the Islamic
era forms a reasonably accurate beginning for the label of Islamic art. Early geographical
boundaries of the Islamic culture were in present-day Syria. It is quite difficult to
distinguish the earliest Islamic objects from their predecessors in Persian or Sassanid
and Byzantine art, and the conversion of the mass of the population, including artists,
took a significant period, sometimes centuries, after the initial Muslim conquest. There was,
notably, a significant production of unglazed ceramics, witnessed by a famous small bowl
preserved in the Louvre, whose inscription assures its attribution to the Islamic period.
Plant motifs were the most important in these early productions.
Influences from the Sassanian artistic tradition include the image of the king as a warrior
and the lion as a symbol of nobility and virility. Bedouin tribal traditions mixed with the more
sophisticated styles of the conquered territories. For an initial period coins had human figures
in the Byzantine and Sassanian style, perhaps to reassure users of their continued value,
before the Islamic style with lettering only took over.====Umayyad====Religious and civic architecture were developed
under the Umayyad dynasty (661–750), when new concepts and new plans were put into practice.
The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem is one of the most important buildings in all of Islamic
architecture, marked by a strong Byzantine influence (mosaic against a gold background,
and a central plan that recalls that of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre), but already
bearing purely Islamic elements, such as the great epigraphic frieze. The desert palaces
in Jordan and Syria (for example, Mshatta, Qasr Amra, and Khirbat al-Mafjar) served the
caliphs as living quarters, reception halls, and baths, and were decorated, including some
wall-paintings, to promote an image of royal luxury.
Work in ceramics was still somewhat primitive (unglazed) during this period. Some metal
objects have survived from this time, but it remains rather difficult to distinguish
these objects from those of the pre-Islamic period.
‘Abd al-Malik introduced standard coinage that featured Arabic inscriptions, instead
of images of the monarch. The quick development of a localized coinage around the time of
the Dome of the Rock’s construction demonstrates the reorientation of Umayyad acculturation.
This period saw the genesis of a particularly Islamic art.
In this period, Umayyad artists and artisans did not invent a new vocabulary, but began
to prefer those received from Mediterranean and Iranian late antiquity, which they adapted
to their own artistic conceptions. For example, the mosaics in the Great Mosque of Damascus
are based on Byzantine models, but replace the figurative elements with images of trees
and cities. The desert palaces also bear witness to these influences. By combining the various
traditions that they had inherited, and by readapting motifs and architectural elements,
artists created little by little a typically Muslim art, particularly discernible in the
aesthetic of the arabesque, which appears both on monuments and in illuminated Qur’āns.====Abbasid====The Abbasid dynasty (750 AD – 1258) witnessed
the movement of the capital from Damascus to Baghdad, and then from Baghdad to Samarra.
The shift to Baghdad influenced politics, culture, and art. Art historian Robert Hillenbrand
(1999) likens the movement to the foundation of an “Islamic Rome”, because the meeting
of Eastern influences from Iranian, Eurasian steppe, Chinese, and Indian sources created
a new paradigm for Islamic art. Classical forms inherited from Byzantine Europe and
Greco-Roman sources were discarded in favor of those drawn from the new Islamic hub. Even
the design of the city of Baghdad placed it in the “navel of the world”, as 9th-century
historian al-Ya’qubi wrote.The ancient city of Baghdad cannot be excavated well, as it
lies beneath the modern city. However, Abbasid Samarra, which was largely abandoned, has
been well studied, and is known for its surviving examples of stucco reliefs, in which the prehistory
of the arabesque can be traced. Motifs known from the stucco at Samarra permit the dating
of structures built elsewhere, and are furthermore found on portable objects, particular in wood,
from Egypt through to Iran. Samarra witnessed the “coming of age” of Islamic
art. Polychrome painted stucco allowed for experimentation in new styles of moulding
and carving. The Abbasid period also coincided with two major innovations in the ceramic
arts: the invention of faience, and of metallic lusterware. Hadithic prohibition of the use
of golden or silver vessels led to the development of metallic lusterware in pottery, which was
made by mixing sulphur and metallic oxides to ochre and vinegar, painted onto an already
glazed vessel and then fired a second time. It was expensive, and difficult to manage
the second round through the kiln, but the wish to exceed fine Chinese porcelain led
to the development of this technique. Though the common perception of Abbasid artistic
production focuses largely on pottery, the greatest development of the Abbasid period
was in textiles. Government-run workshops known as tiraz produced silks bearing the
name of the monarch, allowing for aristocrats to demonstrate their loyalty to the ruler.
Other silks were pictorial. The utility of silk-ware in wall decor, entrance adornment,
and room separation was not as important as its cash value along the “silk route”.
Calligraphy began to be used in surface decoration on pottery during this period. Illuminated
Qur’ans gained attention, letter-forms now more complex and stylized to the point of
slowing down the recognition of the words themselves.===Medieval period (9th–15th centuries)
===Beginning in the 9th century, Abbasid sovereignty
was contested in the provinces furthest removed from the Iraqi center. The creation of a Shi’a
dynasty, that of the north African Fatimids, followed by the Umayyads in Spain, gave force
to this opposition, as well as small dynasties and autonomous governors in Iran.====Spain and the Maghreb====The first Islamic dynasty to establish itself
in Spain (or al-Andalus) was that of the Spanish Umayyads. As their name indicates, they were
descended from the great Umayyads of Syria. After their fall, the Spanish Umayyads were
replaced by various autonomous kingdoms, the taifas (1031–91), but the artistic production
from this period does not differ significantly from that of the Umayyads. At the end of the
11th century, two Berber tribes, the Almoravids and the Almohads, captured the head of the
Maghreb and Spain, successively, bringing Maghrebi influences into art. A series of
military victories by Christian monarchs had reduced Islamic Spain by the end of the 14th
century to the city of Granada, ruled by the Nasirid dynasty, who managed to maintain their
hold until 1492. Al-Andalus was a great cultural center of
the Middle Ages. Besides the great universities, which taught philosophies and sciences yet
unknown in Christendom (such as those of Averroes), the territory was an equally vital center
for art. Many techniques were employed in the manufacture
of objects. Ivory was used extensively for the manufacture of boxes and caskets. The
pyxis of al-Mughira is a masterwork of the genre. In metalwork, large sculptures in the
round, normally rather scarce in the Islamic world, served as elaborate receptacles for
water or as fountain spouts. A great number of textiles, most notably silks, were exported:
many are found in the church treasuries of Christendom, where they served as covering
for saints’ reliquaries. From the periods of Maghrebi rule one may also note a taste
for painted and sculpted woodwork. The art of north Africa is not as well studied.
The Almoravid and Almohad dynasties are characterized by a tendency toward austerity, for example
in mosques with bare walls. Nevertheless, luxury arts continued to be produced in great
quantity. The Marinid and Hafsid dynasties developed an important, but poorly understood,
architecture, and a significant amount of painted and sculpted woodwork.====Arab Mashriq====
The Fatimid dynasty, which reigned in Egypt from 909 and 1171 introduced crafts and knowledge
from politically troubled Baghdad to Cairo. By the year 1070, the Seljuks emerged as the
dominant political force in the Muslim world after they liberated Baghdad and defeated
the Byzantines at Manzikert. During the rule of Malik Shah the Seljuks excelled in architecture
at the same time in Syria, the atabegs (governors of Seljuk princes) assumed power. Quite independent,
they capitalized on conflicts with the Frankish crusaders. In 1171, Saladin seized Fatimid
Egypt, and installed the transitory Ayyubid dynasty on the throne. This period is notable
for innovations in metallurgy and the widespread manufacture of the Damascus steel swords and
daggers and the production ceramics, glass and metalwork of a high quality were produced
without interruption, and enameled glass became another important craft.
In 1250, the Mamluks seized control of Egypt from the Ayyubids, and by 1261 had managed
to assert themselves in Syria as well their most famous ruler was Baibars. The Mamluks
were not, strictly speaking, a dynasty, as they did not maintain a patrilineal mode of
succession; in fact, Mamluks were freed Turkish and Caucasian slaves, who (in theory) passed
the power to others of like station. This mode of government persevered for three centuries,
until 1517, and gave rise to abundant architectural projects (many thousands of buildings were
constructed during this period), while patronage of luxury arts favored primarily enameled
glass and metalwork, and is remembered as the golden age of medieval Egypt. The “Baptistère
de Saint-Louis” in the Louvre is an example of the very high quality of metalwork at this
period.====Iran and Central Asia====In Iran and the north of India, the Tahirids,
Samanids, Ghaznavids, and Ghurids struggled for power in the 10th century, and art was
a vital element of this competition. Great cities were built, such as Nishapur and Ghazni,
and the construction of the Great Mosque of Isfahan (which would continue, in fits and
starts, over several centuries) was initiated. Funerary architecture was also cultivated,
while potters developed quite individual styles: kaleidoscopic ornament on a yellow ground;
or marbled decorations created by allowing colored glazes to run; or painting with multiple
layers of slip under the glaze. The Seljuqs, nomads of Turkic origin from
present-day Mongolia, appeared on the stage of Islamic history toward the end of the 10th
century. They seized Baghdad in 1048, before dying out in 1194 in Iran, although the production
of “Seljuq” works continued through the end of the 12th and beginning of the 13th century
under the auspices of smaller, independent sovereigns and patrons. During their time,
the center of culture, politics and art production shifted from Damascus and Baghdad to Merv,
Nishapur, Rayy, and Isfahan, all in Iran. Popular patronage expanded because of a growing
economy and new urban wealth. Inscriptions in architecture tended to focus more on the
patrons of the piece. For example, sultans, viziers or lower ranking officials would receive
often mention in inscriptions on mosques. Meanwhile, growth in mass market production
and sale of art made it more commonplace and accessible to merchants and professionals.
Because of increased production, many relics have survived from the Seljuk era and can
be easily dated. In contrast, the dating of earlier works is more ambiguous. It is, therefore,
easy to mistake Seljuk art as new developments rather than inheritance from classical Iranian
and Turkic sources.Innovations in ceramics from this period include the production of
minai ware and the manufacture of vessels, not out of clay, but out of a silicon paste
(“fritware”), while metalworkers began to encrust bronze with precious metals. Across
the Seljuk era, from Iran to Iraq, a unification of book painting can be seen. These paintings
have animalistic figures that convey strong symbolic meaning of fidelity, treachery, and
courage.During the 13th century, the Mongols under the leadership of Genghis Khan swept
through the Islamic world. After his death, his empire was divided among his sons, forming
many dynasties: the Yuan in China, the Ilkhanids in Iran and the Golden Horde in northern Iran
and southern Russia.=====Ilkhanids=====
A rich civilization developed under these “little khans”, who were originally subservient
to the Yuan emperor, but rapidly became independent. Architectural activity intensified as the
Mongols became sedentary, and retained traces of their nomadic origins, such as the north-south
orientation of the buildings. At the same time a process of “iranisation” took place,
and construction according to previously established types, such as the “Iranian plan” mosques,
was resumed. The art of the Persian book was also born under this dynasty, and was encouraged
by aristocratic patronage of large manuscripts such as the Jami’ al-tawarikh by Rashid-al-Din
Hamadani. New techniques in ceramics appeared, such as the lajvardina (a variation on luster-ware),
and Chinese influence is perceptible in all arts.=====The Golden Horde and the Timurids=====
The early arts of the nomads of the Golden Horde are poorly understood. Research is only
beginning, and evidence for town planning and architecture has been discovered. There
was also a significant production of works in gold, which often show a strong Chinese
influence. Much of this work is preserved today in the Hermitage.
The beginning of the third great period of medieval Iranian art, that of the Timurids,
was marked by the invasion of a third group of nomads, under the direction of Timur. During
the 15th century this dynasty gave rise to a golden age in Persian manuscript painting,
including renowned painters such as Kamāl ud-Dīn Behzād, but also a multitude of workshops
and patrons.====Syria, Iraq, Anatolia====The Seljuq Turks pushed beyond Iran into Anatolia,
winning a victory over the Byzantine Empire in the Battle of Manzikert (1071), and setting
up a sultanate independent of the Iranian branch of the dynasty. Their power seems largely
to have waned following the Mongol invasions in 1243, but coins were struck under their
name until 1304. Architecture and objects synthesized various styles, both Iranian and
Syrian, sometimes rendering precise attributions difficult. The art of woodworking was cultivated,
and at least one illustrated manuscript dates to this period.
Caravanserais dotted the major trade routes across the region, placed at intervals of
a day’s travel. The construction of these caravanserai inns improved in scale, fortification,
and replicability. Also, they began to contain central mosques.
The Turkmen were nomads who settled in the area of Lake Van. They were responsible for
a number of mosques, such as the Blue Mosque in Tabriz, and they had a decisive influence
after the fall of the Anatolian Seljuqs. Starting in the 13th century, Anatolia was dominated
by small Turkmen dynasties, which progressively chipped away at Byzantine territory. Little
by little a major dynasty emerged, that of the Ottomans, who, after 1450, are referred
to as the “first Ottomans”. Turkmen artworks can be seen as the forerunners of Ottoman
art, in particular the “Milet” ceramics and the first blue-and-white Anatolian works.
Islamic book painting witnessed its first golden age in the thirteenth century, mostly
from Syria and Iraq. Influence from Byzantine visual vocabulary (blue and gold coloring,
angelic and victorious motifs, symbology of drapery) combined with Mongoloid facial types
in 12th-century book frontispieces. Earlier coinage necessarily featured Arabic
epigraphs, but as Ayyubid society became more cosmopolitan and multi-ethnic, coinage began
to feature astrological, figural (featuring a variety of Greek, Seleucid, Byzantine, Sasanian,
and contemporary Turkish rulers’ busts), and animal images.
Hillenbrand suggests that the medieval Islamic texts called Maqamat, copied and illustrated
by Yahya ibn Mahmud al-Wasiti were some of the earliest “coffee table books”. They were
among the first texts to hold up a mirror to daily life in Islamic art, portraying humorous
stories and showing little to no inheritance of pictorial tradition.====Indian subcontinent====The Indian subcontinent, some northern parts
of which conquered by the Ghaznavids and Ghurids in the 9th century, did not become autonomous
until 1206, when the Muizzi, or slave-kings, seized power, marking the birth of the Delhi
Sultanate. Later other competing sultanates were founded in Bengal, Kashmir, Gujarat,
Jaunpur, Malwa, and in the north Deccan (the Bahmanids). They separated themselves little
by little from Persian traditions, giving birth to an original approach to architecture
and urbanism, marked in particular by interaction with Hindu art. Study of the production of
objects has hardly begun, but a lively art of manuscript illumination is known. The period
of the sultanates ended with the arrival of the Mughals, who progressively seized their
territories.===The Three Empires=======Ottomans====The Ottoman Empire, whose origins lie in the
14th century, continued in existence until shortly after World War I. This impressive
longevity, combined with an immense territory (stretching from Anatolia to Tunisia), led
naturally to a vital and distinctive art, including plentiful architecture, mass production
of ceramics for both tiles and vessels, most notably Iznik ware, important metalwork and
jewellery, Turkish paper marbling Ebru, Turkish carpets as well as tapestries and exceptional
Ottoman miniatures and decorative Ottoman illumination.
Masterpieces of Ottoman manuscript illustration include the two “books of festivals” (Surname-I
Hümayun), one dating from the end of the 16th century, and the other from the era of
Sultan Murad III. These books contain numerous illustrations and exhibit a strong Safavid
influence; thus they may have been inspired by books captured in the course of the Ottoman-Safavid
wars of the 16th century. The Ottomans are also known for their development
of a bright red pigment, “Iznik red”, in ceramics, which reached their height in the 16th century,
both in tile-work and pottery, using floral motifs that were considerably transformed
from their Chinese and Persian models. From the 18th century, Ottoman art came under considerable
European influence, the Turks adopting versions of Rococo which had a lasting and not very
beneficial effect, leading to over-fussy decoration.====Mughals====The Mughal Empire in the Indian subcontinent
lasted from 1526 until (technically) 1858, although from the late 17th century power
flowed away from the emperors to local rulers, and later European powers, above all the British
Raj, who were the main power in India by the late 18th century. The period is most notable
for luxury arts of the court, and Mughal styles heavily influenced local Hindu and later Sikh
rulers as well. The Mughal miniature began by importing Persian artists, especially a
group brought back by Humayun when in exile in Safavid Persia, but soon local artists,
many Hindu, were trained in the style. Realistic portraiture, and images of animals and plants,
was developed in Mughal art beyond what the Persians had so far achieved, and the size
of miniatures increased, sometimes onto canvas. The Mughal court had access to European prints
and other art, and these had increasing influence, shown in the gradual introduction of aspects
of Western graphical perspective, and a wider range of poses in the human figure. Some Western
images were directly copied or borrowed from. As the courts of local Nawabs developed, distinct
provincial styles with stronger influence from traditional Indian painting developed
in both Muslim and Hindu princely courts. The arts of jewelry and hardstone carving
of gemstones, such as jasper, jade, adorned with rubies, diamonds and emeralds are mentioned
by the Mughal chronicler Abu’l Fazl, and a range of examples survive; the series of hard
stone daggers in the form of horses’ heads is particularly impressive.
The Mughals were also fine metallurgists they introduced Damascus steel and refined the
locally produced Wootz steel, the Mughals also introduced the “bidri” technique of metalwork
in which silver motifs are pressed against a black background. Famous Mughal metallurgists
like Ali Kashmiri and Muhammed Salih Thatawi created the seamless celestial globes.====Safavids and Qajars====The Iranian Safavids, a dynasty stretching
from 1501 to 1786, is distinguished from the Mughal and Ottoman Empires, and earlier Persian
rulers, in part through the Shi’a faith of its shahs, which they succeeded in making
the majority denomination in Persia. Ceramic arts are marked by the strong influence of
Chinese porcelain, often executed in blue and white. Architecture flourished, attaining
a high point with the building program of Shah Abbas in Isfahan, which included numerous
gardens, palaces (such as Ali Qapu), an immense bazaar, and a large imperial mosque. The art of manuscript illumination also achieved
new heights, in particular in the Shah Tahmasp Shahnameh, an immense copy of Ferdowsi’s
poem containing more than 250 paintings. In the 17th century a new type of painting develops,
based around the album (muraqqa). The albums were the creations of conoisseurs who bound
together single sheets containing paintings, drawings, or calligraphy by various artists,
sometimes excised from earlier books, and other times created as independent works.
The paintings of Reza Abbasi figure largely in this new art of the book, depicting one
or two larger figures, typically idealized beauties in a garden setting, often using
the grisaille techniques previously used for border paintings for the background.
After the fall of the Safavids, the Qajars, a Turkmen tribe established from centuries
on the banks of the Caspian Sea, assumed power. Qajar art displays an increasing European
influence, as in the large oil paintings portraying the Qajar shahs. Steelwork also assumed a
new importance. Like the Ottomans, the Qajar dynasty survived until 1925, a few years after
the First World War.==Modern period==
From the 15th century, the number of smaller Islamic courts began to fall, as the Ottoman
Empire, and later the Safavids and European powers, swallowed them up; this had an effect
on Islamic art, which was usually strongly led by the patronage of the court. From at
least the 18th century onwards, elite Islamic art was increasingly influenced by European
styles, and in the applied arts either largely adopted Western styles, or ceased to develop,
retaining whatever style was prevalent at some point in the late 18th or early 19th
centuries. Many industries with very long histories, such as pottery in Iran, largely
closed, while others, like metalwork in brass, became generally frozen in style, with much
of their production going to tourists or exported as oriental exotica.
The carpet industry has remained large, but mostly uses designs that originated before
1700, and competes with machine-made imitations both locally and around the world. Arts and
crafts with a broader social base, like the zellige mosaic tiles of the Maghreb, have
often survived better. Islamic countries have developed modern and contemporary art, with
very vigorous art worlds in some countries, but the degree to which these should be grouped
in a special category as “Islamic art” is questionable, although many artists deal with
Islam-related themes, and use traditional elements such as calligraphy. Especially in
the oil-rich parts of the Islamic world much modern architecture and interior decoration
makes use of motifs and elements drawn from the heritage of Islamic art.==See also==
Islamic art portal Calligraffiti
Islamic culture Islamic graffiti==Notes====
References==Books and journals Ali, Wijdan (2001). “From the Literal to the
Spiritual: The Development of the Prophet Muhammad’s Portrayal from 13th Century Ilkhanid
Miniatures to 17th Century Ottoman Art” (PDF). EJOS. 4 (7). Archived from the original (PDF)
on 2004-12-03. Blair, S. Bloom, J. ‘The Mirage of Islamic
Art: Reflections on the Study of an Unwieldy Field’. The Art Bulletin, 2003, 85, 1, 152-184,
PDF Bloom, Sheila and Jonathan, eds., Rivers of
Paradise: Water in Islamic Art and Culture, Yale University Press, 2009.
Canby, Sheila R. (ed). Shah Abbas; The Remaking of Iran, 2009, British Museum Press, ISBN
978-0-7141-2452-0 Ettinghausen, Richard; Grabar, Oleg; Jenkins-Madina,
Marilyn (2003). Islamic Art and Architecture 650–1250 (2nd ed.). Yale University Press.
ISBN 978-0-300-08869-4. “Arts”: Jones, Dalu & Michell, George, (eds);
The Arts of Islam, Arts Council of Great Britain, 1976, ISBN 0-7287-0081-6
King, Donald and Sylvester, David eds. The Eastern Carpet in the Western World, From
the 15th to the 17th century, Arts Council of Great Britain, London, 1983, ISBN 0-7287-0362-9
Hillenbrand, Robert. Islamic Art and Architecture, Thames & Hudson World of Art series; 1999,
London. ISBN 978-0-500-20305-7 Levey, Michael; The World of Ottoman Art,
1975, Thames & Hudson, ISBN 0-500-27065-1 Madden, Edward H. (1975). “Some Characteristics
of Islamic Art”. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism. 33 (4).
Mason, Robert B. (1995). “New Looks at Old Pots: Results of Recent Multidisciplinary
Studies of Glazed Ceramics from the Islamic World”. Muqarnas: Annual on Islamic Art and
Architecture. Brill Academic Publishers. XII. ISBN 90-04-10314-7.
Rawson, Jessica, Chinese Ornament: The lotus and the dragon, 1984, British Museum Publications,
ISBN 0-7141-1431-6 Rogers J.M. and Ward R.M.; Süleyman the Magnificent,
1988, British Museum Publications ISBN 0-7141-1440-5 Savage, George. Porcelain Through the Ages,
Penguin, (2nd edn.) 1963 Sinclair, Susan. Bibliography of Art and Architecture
in the Islamic World. Volume 1: Art. 2012, BRILL==Further reading==
Abdullahi Y.; Embi M. R. B (2015). Evolution Of Abstract Vegetal Ornaments On Islamic Architecture.
International Journal of Architectural Research: Archnet-IJAR.
Carboni, Stefano; Whitehouse, David (2001). Glass of the sultans. New York: The Metropolitan
Museum of Art. ISBN 0-87099-986-9. Dodds, J.D. (1992). Al-Andalus: the art of
Islamic Spain. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. ISBN 978-0-87099-636-8.
Wilkinson, Charles K. (1973). Nishapur: pottery of the early Islamic period. New York: The
Metropolitan Museum of Art. ISBN 0-87099-076-4. Yahya Abdullahi; Mohamed Rashid Bin Embi (2013).
Evolution of Islamic geometric patterns. Frontiers of Architectural Research: Elsevier.==External links==ARCHNET: Islamic Architecture Community: Extensive
archive of scholarly articles, full publications and pictures
Museum With No Frontiers: extensive site on Islamic art
Victoria & Albert Museum: Islamic Middle East Collections including contemporary pieces
Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar: MATHAF: Arab Museum of Modern Art Qatar
CalligraphyIslamic: Extensive site on Islamic calligraphy
Palace and Mosque: Islamic Art from the Victoria and Albert Museum at the National Gallery
of Art, Washington Artistic Exchange: Europe and the Islamic
World Selections from the Permanent Collection at the National Gallery of Art
Islamic Art Network – Thesaurus Islamicus Foundation
Islamic Arts & Architecture Islamic Art in Modern Architecture
The Kirkor Minassian Collection at the Library of Congress has decorative Islamic book bindings.

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