Development of Islamic Arts of the Middle East

Keywords: Period of Islamic rules and integration of cultures, Islamic art development in each period, Islamic artistic expression under different leaderships, Arts and fashion assignment writing services

Blair and Bloom (2013) describes Islamic Art as all art whether religious or secular which produced under Muslim leadership. In the nineteenth century, Islamic Art is the term coined in the western world but unlike Christian or Buddhist art, it is not limited to religious imagery. The patrons and its makers of Islamic Art might be Muslim or not but it spans over the years including the foundation of Islam in the seventh century to last two empires of ‘the Safavid’ and ‘the Ottoman’.

Grabar (2014) added that Islamic art has a different significance to different peoples, for example, for Muslim it enclosed expression of religion and faith which state the progress of writing or cloister of a mosque. On the other hand, for non-Muslims, Islamic art is rich and mysterious decoration which is applied to the object. The important artistic expression of Islamic world includes architecture, the arts of the objects (ceramics, textile and metalwork) and the art of the book (manuscript, calligraphy, and illumination).

This essay discusses the development of the Islamic arts in the Middle East from the beginning of Islam to the late Ottoman Empire impact on the Islamic arts development. Moreover, it is structured into three sections. The first section discusses the different period of Islamic rules and integration of cultures. The second section discusses the Islamic art development in each period. The third review the case studies on Islamic artistic expression under different leaderships. At last, not least, conclusion is enclosed at the end of the essay.

Muhammad (PBUH) was born in Mecca around 570 which at that time was religious and commercial centre of the western Arabia. Islamic history, as well as culture, can be traced to four important periods which are early Islamic, Umayyad, Abbasid Dynasty and Ottoman Empire. The Early Islamic period is marked with Muhammad Spread of Message of Islam and Migration to Medina which set the foundation for Islamic society (570-632). On the other hand, after the Muhammad (PBUH), the period of Caliphs (632- 661) and the Umayyad (661-750) (Hattstein and Delius) enclosed the Muslim leadership history.

The significant changes mark in Islamic history is the death of fourth caliph and recognition of Mu’awiya as caliphs who moved capital from the medina to Damascus. This has given wider access to the world to get to the Middle East as well as it was Mediterranean made it the trading centre of the world. The period of Abbasids (750-1258) reverted Capital to Baghdad which was attached by the Seljuk Turks, Persian Shi’ite, and Mongols.

The influences of the Ottomans in the west (1281- 1924) which marks the invasion of the Istanbul and foundation of the Ottoman Empire (Hillenbrand).

Islam was developed and originated in the Middle East in Arab culture and thus, other cultures which adopted Islam have had Arab cultural influences. Similarly, expansion of Islam over the vast land, the Arab came into contact with different civilizations which includes Christian, Chinese, Buddhist and Greco-Roman. Moreover, Arab encounters indigenous artistic traditions which belong to various societies and cultures such as Goths, Berbers, Turks, Slavs and African people (Ali).

The integration of Arab and regionals variety based on Muslim selection of taste and belief from a different culture. Therefore, Islamic civilization which was originated in the Middle East but the inter-cultural exchange has led to the development of the diverse Islamic aesthetic in Middle East. The Islamic Colander was started with the migration of Muhammad to Medina which is based on the lunar years and thus shorter than the solar or Georgian Calendar (Stokstad and Cateforis).

Bloom stated that the Islamic art development in the Middle East has a significant impact from leadership. The earliest Islamic Art development starts with ‘Umayyad Art’. The Arabic language, new religion as well as quickly growing empire has resulted in the integration of the culture and development of Islamic art. The adoption of the plant motifs, stylized vines, and scrolls from the western byzantine was a new addition to the Islamic art. (Grabar and Oleg) The silk textiles symmetrical designs and motifs based on griffins and confronted designed as well as Sasanian court which was based on the hunting scenes on metalwork and inherited a repertory of court.

The prominent feature such as ‘the iwan’ was important culture element from the Sasanian pathways and became an important element of the Islamic architecture. (Bloom) The diagram below shows the ‘Umayyad Art’.

analysis of the islamic art and architecture
Analysis of the Islamic art and architecture

Moreover, the Abbasids art has a great contribution towards the evolution of the Islamic art because of its technique and style. The bevelled and flatly style on the wood and stone craving such as stucco are called ‘arabesques’ which are developed in every shape based on their geometric patterns. This has given to the inception of the ceramics as a form of art in the Islamic world based on their luxury court (Brend).

Fatimid art was spurred on the luxury concept of the Abbasids and Al-fustat (Cairo) became a major hub for luxury ceramic goods. The ceramics which had metallic work along with glass inlays of the ivory or wood and rock crystal carvings. The Artwork from the Fatimid includes calligraphy which was based on great geometric designs. The diagram below shows the Abbasids and Fatimid era artwork (Haarmann).

analysis of the islamic art and architecture
Analysis of the Islamic art and architecture

The Seljuks art was based on the introduction of the mosques constructed through four-iwan. The Arch design was borrowed from the Sasanian artwork and Seljuk introduced artistic production in ceramics, metalwork, and textile. Seljuk introduced the figural artwork along with inception of the new techniques for quartz ceramics (frit-ware) as well as the introduction of the copper, silver or even gold to mark the great era of Islamic metalwork  (Simon, Leiser and Köprulu).

Mamluks art has great importance in the Middle East. The built schools, mosques, and other institutions to express prestigious and power and importantly they built their own mausoleums and given birth to great architecture. In addition, the metalwork by the Mamluks was based on technical skills and therefore, the first colourless glass was made along with enhancement of enamel colours.

The metal work in the Middle East was important leading art and decoration source. The introduction of the silver and gold coin from the Italy has influenced the Islamic Art (Ayalon).

analysis of the islamic art and architecture
Analysis of the Islamic art and architecture

The Ottoman art served as the bridged between the Europe and Middle East and i.e. artists of the ottoman have the influence of both East and West. The architecture was based on the design of the Byzantium and built the square shaped dome.  The production of the Iznik pottery decorated with flowers was important to the feature of an Islamic state. Ottoman leadership sponsored the production of Quran, literature books and miniaturists’ activity of the world (Baram and Carroll).

Calligraphy has remained important element as well as textile became a critical component of this Ottoman Empire. Islamic Art has constantly held its characteristic quality and novel personality. Pretty much as the religion of Islam exemplifies a lifestyle and serves as a durable power among ethnically and socially differing people groups, the craftsmanship delivered by and for Muslim social orders has essential recognizing and binding together qualities (Abas).

The Safavids art is based on the marvellous architecture which includes the building of arch pathway and domes. The manuscripts produced by the Safavids had high quality and identity of the writer was printed rather a name of the Calligraphers. The production of the carpets, textiles and velvets has become an important component of the Islamic Art (Lewis).

The architecture expression of the Islamic art under different leadership in the Middle East is different. The mosque has great importance in Islamic history but the mosque was not had the minarets. The development of minarets is associated with ‘Abyssinian and spurring up to the Ottoman Empire. An example is development of the ‘Great mosque’ in the Damascus by the Umayyad Caliphs. The Damascus as the Islamic capital brought the Islamic art to byzantine which incorporated the three-aisle design from the Christian basilica (Flood).

The integration of the Roman wall paintings designed by the byzantine artists has produced fanciful Islamic architecture in Damascus and later in the Egypt. The introduction of the corresponded width, length and height of the horizontal uniformed aisles were the innovation from the Arabs (Grafman and Rosen-Ayalon). The diagram shows the two important architectures

analysis of the islamic art and architecture

The Umayyad caliph built the holy shrine in Jerusalem after Muslim took control of city and Marwan built Islamic religious monument namely as ‘dome of the rock’. The integration of the Arab architecture and byzantine design help to design an octagonal with features from the Mount of Olives. Nevertheless, the monument had focused on external visibility rather interior architecture. This represents the introduction of Islamic art and development in the light of culture influence in Jerusalem (Rosen-Ayalon).

Baram and Carroll discussed the development of the domes in Jordan, Syria and Palestine was covered in blue, green and gold mosaics made from the marble. The design of the dome of rock was crafted by the local artists and colour glass pieces along with Sasanian decorative design was used. The dome of the rock in Jerusalem has first Quranic verses on the walls as architectural decoration. The forbidden use of figurative has resulted in the writing of Islamic and Quranic verses on the wall.

The religious building provided the tolerated image of Islam which embraced people from different culture and backgrounds and thus accepting the local cultures. The integrated architecture marked the start of the cultural age and development of Islamic art in the region (Johns).

analysis of the islamic art and architecture

The manuscript of Quran is dated back to eight centuries from the Iraq where writing sacred text was based on the austere and Quran was written in the horizontal form. The writing of the Quran involves the calligraphy form of art. The development of art through the manuscript of the Quran was influenced by the paper making techniques from the Chinese. The diagram below shows the 9th century Quran manuscript from Abbasid era which uses the ink and colour for the parchment (Osweis).

analysis of the islamic art and architecture

The transfer of the Asian Artisan has helped to preserve the classical Arab tradition as well as the integration of the western culture. The role of the object in the cultural transformation is evident. The movement of the goods from china and European brought knowledge and experiences which resulted in the integration of the artists’ experience and Islamic interpretation. The development of the castles ‘the citadel of Aleppo’ in Syria from 1194-1214 was an important landmark of the Islamic art when it was rebuilt by the Muslims (King).

Ayyubid period rebuilding of the castle along with crusader building Christian castle has helped the integration of western and Arab artists and development of Islamic arts in Middle East. The integration of the Islamic and Christian artist was important of knowledge and learning from each other. The castle remained an important landmark for the Islamic Art development and design of the castle was unique (Tabbaa).

analysis of the islamic art and architecture

In conclusion, the cultures had important role development of Islamic Arts of the Middle East. The expansion of the Muslim empire first from Medina to Damascus and then Baghdad and Istanbul has resulted in integration Arab culture and regional culture to produced magnificent Islamic Arts. The interaction with various nationals such as Chinese, Turk, Mongols and western has enriched the Islamic Art development in the Middle East. The Umayyad integrated rich culture experiences which further enhanced by the Abbasid Dynasty and Ottoman Empire.

The Islamic art is based on the architecture and art of the object as well as expression. The introduction of the poetry motifs, silk textiles, stylized vines, and scrolls from the western byzantine was a new addition to the Islamic art. The expansion of the Islamic empire has added cultural and artistic richness to the development of Islamic art. The production of luxury ceramics, metal work as well as calligraphy has remained important element as well as textile became a critical component.

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