Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 8

Brief Definition and Meaning

The phrase "Islamic art" is an umbrella term for post-7th century visual arts, created by Muslim and nonMuslim artists within the territories occupied by the people and cultures of Islam. It embraces art forms s
as architecture, architectural decoration, ceramic art, faience mosaics, lustre-ware, relief sculpture, wood
ivory carving, friezes, drawing, painting, calligraphy, book-gilding, manuscript illumination, lacquer-painte
bookbinding, textile design, metalworking, goldsmithery, gemstone carving, among others. Historically,
Islamic art has developed from a wide variety of different sources. It includes elements from Greek and
early Christian art which it combines with the great Middle Eastern cultures of Egypt, Byzantium, and anc
Persia, along with far eastern cultures of India and China.
Main Elements Of Islamic Art

Islamic Art is not the art of a particular country or a particular people. It is the art of a civilization formed
combination of historical circumstances; the conquest of the Ancient World by the Arabs, the inforced
unification of a vast territory under the banner of Islam, a territory which was in turn invaded by various
groups of alien peoples. From the start, the direction of Islamic Art was largely determined by political
structures which cut across geographical and sociological boundaries.

The complex nature of Islamic Art developed on the basis of Pre-Islamic traditions in the various countrie
conquered and a closely integrated blend of Arab, Turkish and Persian traditions brought together in all p
of the new Muslim/Moslem Empire.
Arab Influence

The Arab element is probably at all times the most important. It contribute
the basis for the development of Islamic Art with the message of Islam, th
language of its Holy Book, the Koran (Qur'an) and the Arabic form of
writing. This last became the most important single feature of all Islamic
leading to the development of an infinite variety of abstract ornament and
entire system of linear abstraction that is peculiar to all forms of Islamic A
and can, in all it's manifastations, in one way or another be traced back to
Arabic orgins. The Arabs were deeply interested in mathematics and astron
and furthering the knowledge they had inherited from the Romans. They
applied this knowledge of geometric principles and an innate sense of rhyt
(which also characterizes their poetry and music) to the formulation of the
complex repeat patterns seen in all Islamic decoration.
Turkish Influence
The Turkish element in Islamic Art consists mainly of an indigenous concept of
abstraction that the Turkish peoples of Central Asia applied to any culture and
art form that they met with on their long journey from 'Innermost Asia' to
Egypt. They brought an important tradition of both figurative and nonfigurative design from Eastern to Western Asia, creating an unmistakable
Turkish iconography. The importance of the Turkish element in Islamic culture
can perhaps best be appreciated if one realizes that the larger part of the
Islamic World was ruled by Turkish peoples from the 10th to the 19th century.
The Art of the Islamic World owes a great deal to the rule of these Turkish
Dynasties, and the influence of Turkish thought, taste and tradition on the Art
of Islam in general can hardly be overestimated.
Persian Influence
The Persian element in Islamic Art is perhaps most difficult to define; it seems
to consist of a peculiarly lyrical poetical attitude, a metaphysical tendency
which in the realm of emotional and religious experience leads to an
extraordinary flowering of mysticism. The major schools of Muslim painting
developed in Iran on the basis of Persian literature. Not only an entire
iconography but also a specific imaginary, abstract-poetical in it's realization,
was created in Iran in the later part of the 14th and 15th century, that is
without parallel in any other part of the Muslim/Moslem World. The same

The creed of all Muslims reads alike. blossom) generates new variations of the same original elements. The infinite continuation of a given pattern. super-ethnic and super-geographical unity which is paralled in the history of human culture only by the similiar domination of the Ancient World by Rome. fusing all elements into a unity of fantastic unreality.first and foremost Muslim and not Arab." In all Muslims of every race and country there is the same feeling of being equal in the face of Allah on the day of judgement. theMihrab. Influence of the Religion of Islam on Islamic Art Of all elements in Islamic Art the most important.in spite of racial prides and jealousies . with minor alternations. symbolized by TheKaaba (Quabba). was of the same design throughout the Muslim World. in most periods they are so closely interwoven and integrated that one cannot often clearly distinguish between them. the Islam Artist related the static. of relief and support. It finds different but basically related expression. The Infinite Pattern in Islamic Art The experience of the infinite on the one hand. which faced Mecca with a central niche. spoke and wrote some Arabic. With this possibility of giving equal value to everything that exists or bringing to one level of existence everything within the realm of the visual arts. the cover of a small metal box or the glazed curve of a momumental dome. a basis for a unity of style is provided that transcends the limits of period or country. The multitude of small empires and kingdoms that had adopted Islam felt . All Muslims shared the basic belief in Muhammad's message: the recognization of the all-embracing power and absolute superiority of The One God (Allah). with the worthlessness of the transient earthly existence of man on the other is known to all Muslims and forms part of all Muslim Art. is on the one hand the expression of a profound belief in the eternity of all true being and on the other a disregard for temporary existence. limited. Ornamentation of Surfaces Dissolves Matter . the language of the Koran (Qur'an). undoubtedly.attitude that creates in the field of painting an art form of the greatest beauty but of complete fantasy and unreality enters into architecture. semiabstract or even partly figurative. They all assembled in the Mosque the religious building that. based on an infinite leaf-scroll pattern that. Turkish or Persian. In making visible only part of a pattern that exists in its complete form only in infinity. In every prayer hall there was a focal or Kibla wall. by division of elements (stem. An Arabesque design. and they all faced Mecca. not in quality. a pre-Muslim sanctuary adopted by Muhammad as the point towards which each Muslim should turn in prayer. seemingly definite object to infinity itself. leaf. differing only in form. They all knew. Even though these three elements of Islamic culture are at times clearly definable and separate and each contributes more or less equally to the development of Islamic Art. All the regions of the Muslim World share a great many fundamental artistic features that draw the whole vast territory together in a super-national. Both the small box and the huge dome of a Mosque are regarded in the same way. whether abstract. is religion. "There is no god but God (Allah) and Muhammad is his Prophet. is in itself the perfect application of the principle of Islam design and can be applied to any given surface. a floating world of imagination. The most fundamental is the creation of the infinite pattern that appears in a fully developed form very early on and is a major element of Islamic Art in all periods. the centre of Islam. creating forms of decoration that seem to negate the very nature of architecture and the basic principles of weight and stress.

The result is a world which is not a reflection of the actual object. Sometimes the ornate would be emphasized. colour and texture. Islamic Decoration Two important elements in Islamic decorative art are: Floral Patterns and Calligraphy. along with multi-coloured inlays of precious stones. Solid walls are disguised behind plaster and tile decoration. Floral Patterns in Islamic Decoration Islamic artists habitually employed flowers and trees as decorative motifs for the embellishment of cloth. that banish the solidity of stone and masonary and give them a peculiarly ephemeral quality as if the crystallization of the design is their only reality. very little actual. are even more remarkable.not least because it provides a link between the language of Muslims and the religion of Islam. floral designs were often used as the basis for "infinite pattern" type decoration. and floral designs would be applied to tablets or panels of white marble. A highly ornate as well as intricate art form. semi-naturalistic and abstract geometrical forms used in the infinite pattern. Arabic calligraphy played a dominant role in Islamic Art and was integrated into every sort of decorative scheme . Their designs were inspired by international as well as local techniques. in the form of rows of plants finely carved in low relief. Although a great many fundamental forms and concepts remained more or less stable and unchanged throughout Islamic Art . The ornamentation of surfaces of any kind in any medium with the infinite pattern serves the same purpose .to disguise and 'dissolve' the matter. produces a relaxing. This idea is emphasized by the way in which architectural decoration is used. objects. Proverbs and complete passages from the Qur'an are still major sources for Islamic calligraphic art and decoration. that are carried through from one period to another. Thus. that it can be called a religious art. Almost every country at every period created forms of art that had no parallel in another. calming effect. as outlined in the Koran/Qur'an. whether it be momumental architecture or a small gold box. It is perhaps in this element. which can be modified and enhanced by variations of line.One of the most fundamental principles of the Islamic style deriving from the same basic idea is the dissolution of matter. that Islamic Art joins in the religious experience of Islam and it is in this sense. personal items and buildings. as well as by traditional Persian and Indian flora. is of utmost importance. The idea of transformation. vaults and arches are covered with floral and epigraphic ornament that dissolve their structural strength and funcion and domes are filled with radiating designs of infinite patterns. and the variations on a common theme. The infinite rhythms conveyed by the repetition of curved lines. Characteristically. Mughal architectural decoration was inspired by European botanical artists. therefore.especially in architecture the variety of individual forms is astonishing and can again be called exceptional. almost all Islamic buildings exhibit some type of inscription in their . Calligraphy in Islamic Decoration Apart from the naturalistic. bursting suns or fantastic floating canapes of multitude of mukkarnas. but that of the superimposed element that serves to transcend the momentary and limited individual appearance of a work of art drawing it into the greater and solely valid realm of infinite and continuous being. using arabesques (geometricized vegetal patterns) and covering an entire surface. which has no true parallel in the history of art.religious iconography in the ordinary sense exists in Islam. For instance.

Calligraphic inscriptions are closely associated with the geometry of the building and are frequently employed as a frame around the main architectural elements such as portals and cornices. The misconception that Islam was an iconaclastic or anti-image culture and that the representation of human beings or living creatures in general was prohibited. There is no prohibition against the painting of pictures or the representation of living forms in Islam and there is no mention of it in the Koran (Qur'an). imagery forms one of the most important elements and a multitude of other pictorial traditions were also assimilated during the long and complex history of Islamic Art. That said. elegant and cursive form of writing. (b) foliated Kufic which appeared in Egypt during the 9th Century BCE and has the vertical strokes ending in lobed leaves or half-palmettes. or thulth. Islam rightly . the fact remains that in practically no period of Islamic culture were figurative representation and painting suppressed. south of Baghdad. The inscription is often. According to this view.stone. stucco. From the 11th century onward the Naskhi script gradually replaced Kufic. Kufic. Whatever the reason. Ibn Muqula lived in Baghdad during the 10th century and is also responsible for the development of another type of cursive writing. with the singular exception of the strictly religious sphere where idolatry was feared. is still deeply rooted although the existence of figuative painting in Iran has been recognized now for almost half a century. which is a more beautiful. which is alledged to have been invented at Kufa. though not always. the invention of Naskhi is attributed to Ibn Muqula. but certain elements. is it's rich pictorial and iconographical tradition. Out of taliq developed nastaliq. There are eight different types of Kufic script out of which only three are mentioned here: (a) simple Kufic. Though a kind of cursive style was already known in the 7th Century BCE. the thuluth. textiles and pottery. a quotation from the Qur'an. because the creation of living things like humans and animals is regarded as being the role of God. generally completely unknown. accentuates the vertical strokes of the characters. (c) floriated Kufic in which floral motiffs and scrolls are added to the leaves and half-palmettes. It was used extensively during the first five centuries of Islam in architecture. Another important aspect of Islamic Art. who was active in the second half of the 14th century. the angular Kuficand the cursive Naskhi. Mosques and mausoleums are therefore without figurative representation. it is fair to say that other experts in Islamic art take a slightly narrower view. like vertical strokes or horizontal lines are exaggerated. Sometimes a religious text is confined to a single panel or carved tablet (cartouche) which might be pierced thus creating a specific pattern of light. marble or mosaic surfaces. although they are of purely religious significance. In Iran several cursive styles were invented and developed among which taliqwas important. for copies of the Koran (Qur'an). Certain pronouncements attributed to the Prophet and carried in the Hadith (the collection of traditional sayings of the Prophet) have perhaps been interpreted as prohibition against artistic activity. This closely follows Naskhi. This seems also to have been developed in Egypt during the 9th Century BCE and reached it's highest development there under the Fatimids (969-1171). Or single words like "Allah" or "Mohammed" might be repeated many times over the entire surface of the walls. Elsewhere. the earliest form. Calligraphic Scripts There are two main scripts in traditional Islamic Calligraphy. Nastaliq became the predominate style of Persian Calligraphy during the 15th and 16th centuries. It's inventor was Mir Ali Tabrizi.

built by Malik Shah. 691) and the Great Mosq Damascus (finished Abbasid Art (750-1258) The Abbasid dynasty shifted the capital from Damascus to Baghdad . Fundamental forms of architectural design are developed and permanently formulated for later periods. exemplified by the Masjid-i Jami in Isfahan. Tunisia. and the Great Mosque in Kairouan. metal sculpture in the round. The most important were the co . History of Islamic Art Umayyad Art (661- Noted for its religious and civic architecture. Samarra took over as the capital. Other arts developed under the Abbasids included. and the general development of a Hispano-Islamic idiom in painti relief sculpture.foun by al-Mansur in 762. it is mostly confined to the decoration of objects and secular buildings and the creation of miniature paintings. The latter technique unique to Baghdad potters and ceramicists. the first major city entirely built by Muslims. In and China. Umayyad art and architecture in Spain w exemplified by the creation of the Great mosque of Cordoba. and Ghaznavids. In particular. Egypt took the lead in the cultural life of western Islam the arts. Although it is true that some figurative art can be seen in the Islamic world. this dynasty was noted for architectural structures like the al-Azh Mosque and the al-Hakim Mosque of Cairo. See also Mosaic Art. notably the invention of lustre-ware (painting on the surface of the glaze with a metallic pigment or lustre). region was noted for its fusion of classical Roman and Islamic architectura designs. wall pain and ancient pottery. involving the Tahirid Samanids. The city became the new Islamic hub and symbolized the convergence of Eastern a Western art forms: Eastern inspiration from Iran. the Eurasian steppes. descendants of the earlier Umayyad dyn ruled Spain. this dynasty was noted above all for its architectur building designs. the Great Mosque in Tunis.77 120 miles south of Baghdad. ceramic art in the form of pott decorated with figurative painting and ivory carving as well as relief sculptureand the emergence of the "infinite pattern" of abstract ornamenta Fatimid art is particularly famous for applying designs to every kind of surf Seljuk Art in Iran and Anatolia (Turkey) The struggle for power in Iran and the north of India. the Great Mosque of Samarra. such as The Dome o Rock in Jerusalem (built by Abd al-Malik. the Mosque of Tulun in Cairo.discourages Islamic painters and sculptors from producing such figures. calligraphic decorations f began to appear on pottery during this period. Umayyad Art in Spain Parallel with the Abbasids in Iraq. with Cordoba becoming the second most important cultural ce of the Muslim world after Bagdad. textile silk art. Also. In Islamic art. and decorative arts like cera Fatimid Art in Egypt (909-1171) Under the Fatimids. Abu Dalaf in Iraq. was won by the Seljuk in the middle of the 11 century. Western influence from Classical Antiquity and Byzantine Europ Later. Abbasid architecture was noted for the desert Fortress of Al-Ukhaidir (c.

the superb metal basin of Mamluk silver metalwork k as the "Baptistere de Saint Louis" (Syria. In general the Mamluk era is remembered as the golden age of medieval near Eastern Islamic culture. and to Ayyubid and Mamluk Syria and Egypt. this building the fundamental elements of Islamic architecture and architec design found their highest expression: for instance. Enameled glass and metalwork were also greatly developed (c.mosque and the madrasah. represented by the Mongols. Nasrid archite led the way. The Mongol period provided a lasting repertoire of decorative forms and ideas to the Islamic artists of the Timurid and Safavi periods in Iran. the history of painting. the illusion of a buildin floating above ground. the latter exemplified b theManafi al-Hayawan (Usefulness of Animals) manuscript (1297). Mongol Art (c. w also greatly expanded across the visual arts. For example. recreatin glories of the first great Islamic period under Umayyad rule.1349) and Yezd (c. exemplified by the Alhambra Palace in Granada (c. as . and Kayt Bey's Madrasah-Mausoleum (c. Chinese influence is evident in all forms of visual arts.1380) and the Jami a tawarikh by Rashid al-Din. Decorated on the outside with a cen frieze of figures and two corresponding friezes of animals. the Gur-i Amir. used in architectural ornamentation.plaster. as well as forms for tomb towers and mausole Figurative representation. Notable works of Islamic architecture w have survived from this period include the tomb of Oljeitu (1304-17) in Soltaniyeh. the Great Mosque of Samarkand (B Khanum mosque) begun around 1400. New techniques appeared in ceramic pottery. Timurid architecture is exemplified by the mosq of Kernan (c. Timurid Period (c. Mamluk Art in Syria and Egypt (1250-1517) Many monumental stone works of Islamic architecture were created during period include the Madrasah-Mausoleum of Sultan Hasan. miniatures and the art of the Persian book illumination was born during this era. relief carving. is one of the gre masterpieces of its type in Islamic art. along the lines of a Central Asian iconography. The Seljuks also excelled at stone-carving. Herat and elsewhere. Nasrid Art in Spain (1232-1492) The Nasrid dynasty. Exteriors as well as interiors became r decorated in a variety of media .1375). Cairo (1356-63) Madrasah-Mausoleum of Sultan Kalaun. while illuminated manuscripts were produced in the "Imperial Timuri style". Cairo (1284-5).1220-1360) Despite the initial devastation caused by the Mongol armies. lik the lajvardina(a variant of lustre-ware). the Mongol capital. Also. and the Blue Mosque in Tabriz (1465). Architectural decoration employed polychrome faience to the greatest effect. centred on their court in Granada. In the othe visual arts. in Tabriz.12 1400). Herat produced a series of magnificent painted manuscripts.1333-91). it is also orname with elaborate hunting scenes on the inside. and decorative painting. Notable schools of Timurid painting sprang up in Shiraz. lustre-painting was greatly develo as was textile weaving in gold brocade and embroidery. Islamic art of Western Asia was greatly enriched by direct contact with the culture of the East.1460-70). Timur's mausoleum Samarkand (1405). In decorative art. Firdusi's Shah-nameh (Book of Kings) manuscript (c. as well as painted tiles faience mosaics. and Masjid-i Jami Mosque of Taj al-din Ali Shah. Timurid painting introduced the concept of using the entire pic area. 1290-1310).1360-1500) Mongol rule in Iran was succeeded by that of Timur (Tamerlane) who came from south of Samarkand. created a culture th attained a level of magnificence without parallel in Muslim Spain.

1368-1644). brightly coloured stylized imagery as well as a highly realist styl of figurative drawing . known as Iznik red). Agra (1622-28). it became highly popular under Suleyman I the Magnificent (1520–66). and the Sultan Ahmet Cami mosque (1609-16). Also in carpet-design. the famous tomb b .1400-1900) With the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople. in particu gave rise to a richness and variety almost unparalleled in Islamic art.like gilding. the Safavid capital was established at Isfahan. Jahangir and Shah Jahan) in the late 16th-century. the Safavid period saw the replacemen Turkish abstract patterns by new floral and figurative designs. Also. the most celebrated of all Otto architects . Advances in architectural decoration included a new style of floral polychro designs in ceramic tilework and pottery (plus the discovery of the bright re pigment used in ceramics.1400). while in painting. Her Bukhara and Kasvin. In the decorative arts. Ottoman buildings by Islamic architects include: the Sulaymaniyeh Cami Mosque of Sultan Sulayman (begun 1550) and the Selimiyeh Cami mosque Edirne (1567-74) .as a corresponding set of developments in the Islamic arts of calligraphy a book-binding. Timurid ar may be seen as a refinement. composition and iconography.the mosque of Sultan Ahmet I (known as "the Blue Mosque") (1603-17). the mausoleum of Itmad al-Daula. In general. calligraphy and lacquer-painted leat bookbinding. the gre Red Fort complex near Agra (17th century) its Delhi Gate (1635) and its P Mosque (1648). silk-weaving) and its figurative painting. Advances in Safavid painting including.both designed by Sinan. Invented by Housam Roumi. Stained glass art was also developed. Bursa (c. its decorative designwork ( knotted rugs. the palace complex of Fatehpur Sikri (c. in heart of ancient Persia. The latter. In general.in its use form and decoration . between realist forms with fine detail and "infinite pattern" abstraction. and to the emergence of individual artists and the creation of personal styles. the city once again became a focal point f western Islamic art and culture. illumination. Safavid Art in Iran (c. even sublimation. Safavid artists excelled in all a of the book .came predominantly from the schools of Tabriz. Ottoman Art (c. once the centre of Byzantiu and the Eastern Roman Empire. Mughal Islamic Art in India India fell under the rule of the Mughal emperors (Akbar. which .1575) built during th reign of Akbar. One the most famous of Ottoman crafts was the knotted rug. Persian Safavid art is noted for its architecture. due in part to the influence of Chinese porcelain during the era of Ming Dynasty Art (c. Isfahan Safavid architecture is exemplifie the domed mosque of Shaykh Lutfullah (1603-18) and the Great Mosque o Shah Abbas (1612-20) (Masjid-i Shah). where it became the centre of eastern Muslim art a culture for almost two centuries.1502-1736) In the late 16th century. An early form was the Ulu Cami mosque. advanc were made in ceramic art. Ottoman artists developed a new canon of colour. Ottoman calligraphers developed Diwani script. a new cursiv style of Arabic calligraphy. of the basic ideals of east Islamic art. Also. giving rise to a unified Indian-Islamic cultu Mughal achievements in architecture include the domed Tomb of Humayun Delhi (1565). an important aspect of Ottoman art is its play on contrasts: between tectonic qualities and the dissolution of materials. Ottoman architecture is noted above all fo domed mosque. and the sublime Taj Mahal (1630-53).embodied most of the salient elements of Muslim culture.

. Influenced by Persian. silver and precious stones. jasper. illustrated with full-page paintings.by Emperor Shah Jahan to commemorate his favourite wife Mumtaz Mahal greatest Mughal stone masons were employed on the project. 1575). the largest know Islamic manuscript. Mughal rulers were especially fond of gol with niello and enamel decoration. The Mughal era is also noted for its metalworking and goldsmithing(goldsmithery). When they h finished. Mughal artis developed new forms of manuscript illumination. it is said that Jahan ordered the amputation of the chief mason's to prevent replication of such exquisite work. and emeralds). This gave a considerable boost to the arts of jewellery and gemstone carving (especial jade. Hindu painters and European painters. as exemplified by the sumptuous Dastan-i Amir Hamza (Hamza-nameh. and Anwari's Divan(1588).