The Islamic World: 570-1540

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Brief overview of Islamic art and culture

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The Islamic World: 570-1540

  1. 1. The Islamic World: Religion and Culture c. 570-1540
  2. 2. The Islamic World Dates and Places: • 7th century to present • Middle East, Spain, North Africa People: • Ancestors animistic, tribal people who worshipped over 300 nature deities • Muslims once polytheistic, birth Muhammad 570 marks change • Muslim followers of Prophet Muhammad • Rapid expansion of empire Map: The Spread of Islam 622- 750 CE
  3. 3. Islamic World Example: • Iconic piece of Islamic architecture • One of the earliest surviving buildings from the Islamic world • Original function debated though building is not a mosque The Dome of the Rock (Qubbat al- Sakhra), Umayyad, 691-2. Stone masonry, wooden roof, decorated with glazed ceramic tile, mosaics, and gilt aluminum and bronze dome, with multiple renovations
  4. 4. The Islamic World • Dome sits atop the Haram al-Sharif, the highest point in old Jerusalem near the Western or Wailing Wall The Dome of the Rock (Qubbat al-Sakhra), Umayyad, 691-2 with view of Western Wall. Stone masonry, wooden roof, decorated with glazed ceramic tile, mosaics, and gilt aluminum and bronze dome, with multiple renovations
  5. 5. The Islamic World • The Dome of the Rock holds significance to Jews, Christians, and Muslims • It is believed to be the site of the Jewish second temple, which the Roman Emperor Titus destroyed in 70 C.E. while subduing the Jewish revolt, the location where Abraham was prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac, and Muslims believe that the rock marks the spot where Muhammad last touched earth before his journey to heaven Interior of the Dome of the Rock (photo: Robert Smythe Hitchens, public domain)
  6. 6. Five Pillars of Islam 1. Confession of faith: “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is his Messenger” 2. Recitation of prayers 5 times a day, facing Mecca (marked by the mihrab) 3. Almsgiving: the practice of making a charitable contribution to the Islamic community 4. Fasting from dawn to sunset during the sacred month of Ramadan (during 9th month of Islamic calendar, the time when Muhammad received his calling) 5. Pilgrimage (hajj) to Mecca at least once during a Muslim’s lifetime
  7. 7. Islamic World Themes: • Restrictions on holy images • Geometric pattern, vegetal design, calligraphic passages from Koran Forms: • Non-illusionistic • Repetition of design • Rich colors, materials Malwiya minaret, Great Mosque, Samarra, 848–852.
  8. 8. Islamic Architecture Example: • Mosque for collective prayer • Muhammad’s house as model • Hypostyle hall, qibla wall, mihrab, minaret • Maqsura for ruler • Plain exterior, lavish interior View and plan, Great Mosque, Kairouan, Tunisia, ca. 836–875.
  9. 9. Islamic Architecture Example: • Once housed statues of gods and sacred Black Stone • Muslim tradition believes the Kaaba to have been built by Abraham and his son, Ishmael • Marks sacred spot where Abraham prepared to sacrifice son, Isaac • Muslims must make hajj to Kaaba at least once in lifetime The Kaaba, Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
  10. 10. Luxury Arts Example: • Qur’an principle text of Islam • Kufic script • Integration of text and ornament • Lacks figural representation • Authority of Muslim ritual and life providing guidance on law, morals, ethics, worship, and injunctions for everyday conduct Qur'an fragment, in Arabic, possibly Iraq, before 911 C.E., vellum, MS M.712, fols. 19v–20r, 9 x 12.6.” The Morgan Library and Museum, NYC.
  11. 11. Luxury Arts Example: •Work highlights Islam’s presence in Africa and dominance in slave trade •Islam Africa’s fastest growing religion •Image also shows woman veiled with hajib, covering her neck, torso, and part of face, excluding eyes – Local customs governed women’s dress – In some areas women are expected to wear a chador The Slave Market at Zabĭd, Yemen, from the Maqămăt of al-Harĭr ĭ, 1237. National Library of France.
  12. 12. The Islamic World • Although not prescribed in the Qur’an, some Islamic communities dictate women’s bodies be covered from head to toe • Depending on the region, women wear some form of dress highlighted here Headgear worn by Muslim Women
  13. 13. Islamic Architecture Example: • Hypostyle hall • Double-tiered arches add height • Columns from earlier structure • Horseshoe arch, maybe Visigoth or Near Eastern • Lavish mosaics and stucco Prayer hall, Great Mosque, Córdoba, Spain, 8th to 10th centuries.
  14. 14. Islamic Architecture Example: • Iranian mosque type • Courtyard with two- story arcade • Four iwans (vaulted recess in wall) • Qibla iwan is largest • Dome before the mihrab Prayer hall, Great Mosque, Córdoba, Spain, 8th to 10th centuries.
  15. 15. Islamic Architecture Example: • Focal point of prayer hall is the horseshoe arched mihrab or prayer niche • The mihrab marks the wall that faces Mecca, the birth place of Islam • Gold tesserae (small pieces of glass with gold and color backing) create a dazzling combination of dark blues, reddish browns, yellows and golds that form intricate calligraphic bands and vegetal motifs that adorn the arch Mihrab of the Great Mosque at Córdoba, 11th cent. Glass and gold mosaics on marble.
  16. 16. Islamic Architecture Example: • Palace of the caliph in Spain • Image of Paradise • Multi-lobed pointed arches, ornamental stucco decoration • Ornament of calligraphy and patterns Court of the Lions, Alhambra. Granada, Spain, 1354–1391.
  17. 17. Islamic Architecture Example: • Mosaic tile ornamentation • Repeating vegetal motifs • Calligraphy from Koran to assist in prayers – Inner border: (in Kufic script): "Said [the Prophet] on him be blessing and peace: . . . witness that there is no God save Allah and that Muhammad is his Apostle and the Blessed Imam, and in legal almsgiving, and in the pilgrimage, and in the fast of Ramadan, and he said, on him be blessing and peace." – Central framed text: "The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, 'The Mosque is the dwelling place of the pious.’” • Abstract patterns • Lacks figural representation of holy figures Mihrab (prayer niche), 1354–55 (A.H. 755), just after the Ilkhanid period, Madrasa Imami, Isfahan, Iran. Polychrome glazed tiles, 135 1/16” x 113 11/16.” Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC
  18. 18. Luxury Arts Example: • Rug in funerary mosque • One of the world's oldest and most signigicant Islamic carpets • Rugs replace wood furniture, create functional multi-purpose rooms • Wool carpet by master designer • Heavenly dome design with water and lotus blossoms • Lanterns in design Medallion Carpet, “The Ardabil Carpet,” Maqsud of Kashan, Persian, Safavid Dynasty, 1539-40 C.E. Silk warps and wefts with wool pile (25 million knots, 340 per sq. inch). Tabriz, Kashan, Isfahan or Kirman, Iran. Currently at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.
  19. 19. Luxury Arts Example: •Pedanius Dioscorides was a Roman army doctor in the first century AD. His treatise describes how to make medicine from up to five hundred plants, explaining where to find each plant, how to harvest it, how to prepare it as a drug, and which ailments it will cure. The book was translated into Arabic in the mid-ninth century at a famous translation institute in Baghdad, known as the House of Wisdom. Leaf from an Arabic translation of the Materia Medica of Dioscorides ("The Pharmacy"), 1224. Iraq, Baghdad School. Colors and gilt on paper, 12” x 9.” Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC.
  20. 20. The Islamic World Example: • Combination of diagrams and some portrait pages of author or patron • More narrative scenes, like this one show people harvesting herbs, making medicines, and treating patients according to Dioscorides instructions • This page shows the making of medicine from honey • Brilliant colors, energetic figures in contemporary local dress, and a balanced, bilaterally symmetry characterize composition • The neutral color of the page itself, serves as background reinforcing the two- dimensionality of the picture Leaf from an Arabic translation of the Materia Medica of Dioscorides ("The Pharmacy"), 1224. Iraq, Baghdad School. Colors and gilt on paper, 12” x 9.” Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC.

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