Islamic art and architecture

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Islamic art and architecture Lacking a strong, independent tradition, Islamic art began to develop as a unique synthesis of the diverse cultures of conquered countries from the 7th century. Early Islamic art and craft is perhaps best illustrated in the architecture of the mosque. Two of the most impressive surviving examples of early Islamic architecture are the Dome of the Rock (685–92) in Jerusalem and the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus (c.705). Common architectural forms, such as the dome, minaret, sahn (courtyard), and the often highly-decorated mihrab (prayer niche) and mimbar (prayer pulpit) developed in the 9th century. Mosques also acquired rich surface decorations of mosaic, carved stone and paint. In Spain, Moorish architecture developed independently after the Umayyads were forced to flee there by the Abbasid dynasty. It is characterized by its use of the horseshoe arch, faience and stone lattice screens, as seen in the Alhambra. Islamic Cairo is a world heritage site of Muslim architecture, often derived from Iranian innovation. The Ibn Tulun Mosque (879) is a fine example of early brick and stucco form. The Al-Azhar Mosque displays 10th-century developments. The masterwork of Persian mosques, with their distinctive onion-shaped domes and slender pencil minarets, is the Isfahan Imperial Mosque (1585–1612). The Iranians influenced the Islamic architecture of India and Turkey. Because of a religious stricture on the representation of nature, Islamic art developed stylized figures, geometrical designs and floral-like decorations (arabesques). The Koran was the focus for much of the development of calligraphy and illumination. Many of the cursive scripts were developed in the 10th century, and the most commonly used script, Nastaliq, was perfected in the 15th century. Muslim secular art included highly ornamented metalwork (often inlaid with red copper), which developed in the 13th century around Mosul, n Mesopotamia. The art of pottery and ceramics was advanced, featuring glazes and decoration. The Islamic minai (enamel) technique reached its zenith in the 16th century in Isfahan, where entire walls were decorated in faience. Perhaps the best-known art of the Islamic world is that of rug-making.

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Islamic architecture. Term covering a huge range of buildings and stylistic variations, but generally associated with buildings connected with the followers of Mohammed, or Muslims. Islamic architecture has several characteristic features, including the pointed, multifoil, low, wide, four-centred, and horseshoe arch, the muqarna or stalactite corbel, cladding of coloured glazed earthenware and patterned tilework, fretted gables of stone, marble, or stucco, and, above all, coherent and serene geometry. Domes, minarets, cloisters, and elaborate battlements, often of the almena type, are commonly associated with Islamic buildings.

Islamic architecture has influenced design in the West, notably the pointed arch and cusping in the medieval period, and the stylistic aspects of so-called Moresque architecture in which elements of Islamic, especially Moorish (e.g. the Alhambra, Granada, Spain), architecture were used as part of the European enchantment with exotic oriental styles in C18 (e.g. the work of Chambers at Kew) and C19 (e.g. Persius's steam-engine house at Potsdam (1841–2), and Aitchison's Arab Hall in Kensington (1877–9)).See also moorish architecture.


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Builder & and Builder (1994);
Conner (1979);
Cruickshank (ed.) (1996);
Ettinghausen & and Grabar (1988);
Hillenbrand (1994);
Hoag (1986);
Lampugnani (ed.)& Dinsmoor (1986);
Petersen (1996);
Jane Turner (1996)


Islamic art and architecture