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Islamic Art and Culture

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Presentation on theme: "Islamic Art and Culture"— Presentation transcript:

1 Islamic Art and Culture
Culture and Values, Chapter 08

2 Chapter 8 - Timeline 570 Muhammad born c. 620 Qur'an develops
622 Muhammad flees Mecca. Marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar 632 Muhammad dies c. 680 or 690 Great Mosque of Damascus built by al Walid c. 680 or 690 Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem The House of Wisdom draws scholars from all over the Muslim world, translating and preserving many Greek texts Muslim belief that God's divinity defies representation leads to intricate blend of geometric design and sacred texts Life of Al-Khwarizmi, inventor of algebra 780/90 Great Mosque in Cordoba begun 1187 Sultan Saladin conquers Jerusalem Fall of Acre, last Christian stronghold in Holy Land The Alhambra Life of Rumi, best-known Sufi mystic-poet 1492 Christians drive Muslims from Spain (Reconquista) Taj Mahal constructed in India

3 Muhammad and the Birth of Islam The Koran Calligraphy
Chapter 8: Outline Muhammad and the Birth of Islam The Koran Calligraphy Islamic Architecture Sufism The Culture of Islam and the West

4 Islam and World Conquest
Muhammad always thought of the new revelation he had received from God as a new religion which could unify the whole human race under one God and bring with it amity among nations. Islam regards itself as the final perfection of God's revelation first announced to the Jews and later to the Christians. For that reason, Muhammad's religion was an unapologetic missionary faith. Within two hundred years Islam had spread from the desert world of Arabia throughout present-day Middle East and along Mediterranean Sea and the Iberian peninsula of present-day Southern Spain; much of this dispersion came via military conquest.

5 Islam’s Rise and the Decline of Christianity
Islam's rise coincided with a period of stagnation in what was the Christian West. The old Roman Empire was in a state of decline having been hammered by successive waves of Barbarian invasions. The Byzantine Empire with its capital at Constantinople controlled only the city itself and its adjacent territories. It was an essentially inward looking, conservative, and noninnovative culture. Islam, by contrast, was a vigorous young religious culture and at its apex when the Abassids ruled from its center in Baghdad and later in Damascus and Córdoba was innovative and forward-looking. Page from the Qur’an, 8th century Page from the Qur’an, 8th c.

6 Christianity vs. Islam While Islamic incursions were halted in the West in the generations before Charlemagne, and Muslims would not take possession of Constantinople until the fifteenth century, there were constant exchanges between the two cultures eventhough they warred against each other with ferocity (i.e., the Crusades). This hostility shows up clearly in the West. The Muslims, in Christian eyes, were simply the "Infidel" and their wickedness is a theme in The Song of Roland where their beliefs and their practices were criticized and twisted into parody. The Christian Crusades had the express aim to wrest the Christian holy places from these "Infidels." It should not surprise us that Dante comes to describe the walls of the city of hell as crenellated walls with domes of "fiery mosques." Map of the Crusades, 1000 – 1200 a.d Map of the Crusades, 1000 – 1200 a.d

7 The Complexity of Islam
The antagonism between the Christian West and the world of Islam has a long and bitter history. It is an antagonism that reflects itself today in the stereotyping of Muslims as backward, fundamentalist, terrorists out to ruin the world. The irony is, of course, that we read such things on paper–an innovation that the House of Wisdom in Baghdad gave to the West in the medieval period. The real truth is that Islam is a highly complex and deeply rich culture in which religion is so central that it cannot be disentangled from political and social culture. Islam has a long tradition of learning and the arts with a worldview that attempts to explain the place of people in the social order under the watchful eye of an all-powerful God who is adored under the name of Allah.

8 Islam as submission to the will of Allah
Islamic Art develops around And then reacts to existing notions of beauty and decorum Islam as submission to the will of Allah In Arabic, islam means submission and a muslim is one who submits to Allah's will.

9 Qur’an = Koran: Holy Book Hadith: traditions about Mohammed
a. The Koran is explicit about repercussions if one indulges in representational art. b. Icons are considered idolatrous The idolatry of icons

10 Damascus Mosque Even though trees and houses are clearly depicted, the absence of human figures is striking. This reflects the restriction against depicting the human form in early Islamic art.

11 Calligraphy and Arabesque Design
Follows Islamic conquests of Christian territory a. Script of Koran the visual artifact of God’s communiqué to world. Calligraphy-art of drawing language-Islam’s greatest visual expression.

12 Calligraphy: linear, elegant handwriting with flowing rhythmic strokes b. Mohammed becomes linked with the script to the logical extension of God’s gift to the world

13 Arabesque: abstract designs of Islamic
Artists Combines calligraphy with mathematical compositions Uses vegetal design Also uses geometric design inspired by mathematics

14 Page from Qur’an

15 Islamic Architecture Mosque format-”masgid/masjid”= Place of worship simple overall geometry faces direction of Mecca has four sections a. Atrium or courtyard b. Minaret-covered sanctuary and tower where muezzin calls people to worship c. Quibla-wall of prayers faces East d. Mihrab-sacred niche in center of quibla

16 The Dome of the Rock The Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem, late 7th c.
And at right: Mosaic tile from the The Dome of the Rock The Dome of the Rock Jerusalem became known as Al-Quds, The Holy. Many of the Prophet's Companions travelled to worship at the blessed spot to which Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, was brought by night and from which he ascended through the heavens to his Lord. According to the authenticated tradition of the Prophet, travel for the sake of worship is undertaken to only three mosques; the Sacred Mosque in Makkah, the Prophet's Mosque in Madinah, and the Furthest Mosque in Jerusalem. In 685AD the Umayyad Khalif, 'Abdul Malik ibn Marwan, commenced work on the Dome of the Rock. Essentially unchanged for more than thirteen centuries, the Dome of the Rock remains one of the world's most beautiful and enduring architectural treasures.

17 Mosque of Cordoba The Great Mosque , Cordoba,Spain
(784-6 , , , The double horseshoe arcades of the prayer-hall Córdoba was the capital of the Spanish Muslim dynasty of the Ummayads ( ). The Great Mosque of Córdoba (La Mezquita) was founded 785 CE. It was added to and expanded over the next two hundred years to make it the third largest structure in the Islamic world.        The prayer hall (23,400 square meters) is filled with almost 500 hundred slender columns and superimposed striped arches; a forest sprouting from the marble floor.        Previously the site had been occupied by a Christian church dedicated to Saint Vincent that had been built by the Visigoths around 500 CE. Before that, when Córdoba was a provincial capital in the Roman Empire, the site was occupied by a temple dedicated to Janus, the double-headed god of doorways and gates.

18 Taj Mahal Taj Mahal, Agra, India, 1631 - 1647
Agra, once the capital of the Mughal Empire during the 16th and early 18th centuries, is one and a half hours by express train from New Delhi. Tourists from all over the world visit Agra not to see the ruins of the red sandstone fortress built by the Mughal emperors but to make a pilgrimage to Taj Mahal, India’s most famous architectural wonder, in a land where magnificent temples and edificies abound to remind visitors about the rich civilization of a country that is slowly but surely lifting itself into an industrialized society. The postcard picture of Taj Mahal does not adequately convey the legend, the poetry and the romance that shroud what Rabindranath Tagore calls "a teardrop on the cheek of time". Taj Mahal means "Crown Palace" and is in fact the most well preserved and architecturally beautiful tomb in the world. It is best described by the English poet, Sir Edwin Arnold, as "Not a piece of architecture, as other buildings are, but the proud passions of an emperor’s love wrought in living stones." It is a celebration of woman built in marble and that’s the way to appreciate it. Taj Mahal stands on the bank of River Yamuna, which otherwise serves as a wide moat defending the Great Red Fort of Agra, the center of the Mughal emperors until they moved their capital to Delhi in It was built by the fifth Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan in 1631 in memory of his second wife, Mumtaz Mahal, a Muslim Persian princess. She died while accompanying her husband in Burhanpur in a campaign to crush a rebellion after giving birth to their 14th child. The death so crushed the emperor that all his hair and beard were said to have grown snow white in a few months. When Mumtaz Mahal was still alive, she extracted four promises from the emperor: first, that he build the Taj; second, that he should marry again; third, that he be kind to their children; and fourth, that he visit the tomb on her death anniversary. He kept the first and second promises. Construction began in 1631 and was completed in 22 years. Twenty thousand people were deployed to work on it. The material was brought in from all over India and central Asia and it took a fleet of 1000 elephants to transport it to the site. It was designed by the Iranian architect Ustad Isa and it is best appreciated when the architecture and its adornments are linked to the passion that inspired it. It is a "symbol of eternal love". The Taj rises on a high red sandstone base topped by a huge white marble terrace on which rests the famous dome flanked by four tapering minarets. Within the dome lies the jewel-inlaid cenotaph of the queen. So exquisite is the workmanship that the Taj has been described as "having been designed by giants and finished by jewellers". The only asymmetrical object in the Taj is the casket of the emperor which was built beside the queen’s as an afterthought. The emperor was deposed by his son and imprisoned in the Great Red Fort for eight years but was buried in the Taj. During his imprisonment, he had a view of the Taj. As a tribute to a beautiful woman and as a monument for enduring love, the Taj reveals its subtleties when one visits it without being in a hurry. The rectangular base of Taj is in itself symbolic of the different sides from which to view a beautiful woman. The main gate is like a veil to a woman’s face which should be lifted delicately, gently and without haste on the wedding night. In indian tradition the veil is lifted gently to reveal the beauty of the bride. As one stands inside the main gate of Taj, his eyes are directed to an arch which frames the Taj. The dome is made of white marble, but the tomb is set against the plain across the river and it is this background that works its magic of colours that, through their reflection, change the view of the Taj. The colours change at different hours of the day and during different seasons. Like a jewel, the Taj sparkles in moonlight when the semi-precious stones inlaid into the white marble on the main mausoleum catch the glow of the moon. The Taj is pinkish in the morning, milky white in the evening and golden when the moon shines. These changes, they say, depict the different moods of woman. Different people have different views of the Taj but it would be enough to say that the Taj has a life of its own that leaps out of marble, provided you understand that it is a monument of love. Taj Mahal, Agra, India,

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