Good Example Of Prehistoric To Islamic Art & Architecture Essay

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Art, Muslim, Islam, Architecture, Artists, Calligraphy, Style, Religion

Pages: 5

Words: 1375

Published: 2021/02/25

Islamic art and architecture cover the arts and structures created by culturally Islamic populations’ right from the 7th century. As the era and populations covered many lands and various peoples over a span of about 1400 years, it is very difficult to make a precise definition of the art form and style. The vast field of Islamic art and architecture is a subject in its right and carries different fields within such as painting, glass, ceramics, calligraphy, textiles, etc. The art and style are not restricted to religious art but displays the rich and varied Islamic societies over the years. The specifically religious art is more prominent in mosques and their complexes. The Islamic art carries a diverse nature because of its spread over a vast territory and immersing a number of local cultures. The initial point for the start Islamic art was the birth of Islam and the unique Islamic artistic language.
The prime motive of the essay is to look at the unique characteristics of Islamic art and architecture and the use of different elements such as calligraphy, stylized figures, geometrical patterns in art.

The distinguished quality of Islamic Art

Islamic art and architecture were not just created to serve the Muslim faith or adorn the mosque and its furnishings. It was created by Muslim artists for the Muslim rulers and patrons. It carried its own unique artistic language that could be seen in the art and architecture throughout the Muslim world. The lands conquered by the Muslims rulers has their own artistic traditions that existed from before. The local artists continued their own indigenous styles but now worked for the Muslim patrons. One can see fine examples of blending of different classical decorative themes and motifs. Islamic art experienced a wide geographic spread and long history as well as influences within the different periods. Even, under those circumstances, it is remarkable that Islamic art and architecture has retained its unique identity. The art crested in Muslim societies feature unifying characteristics. The main components of Islamic ornament are different patterns and figural representation (The Nature of Islamic Art).
Islam was born when the world was divided between two powerful empires, Persian, and Byzantine. Byzantium symbolized Greco-Roman cultural tradition while Sasanian artistic traditions of Persia influenced the art of the world significantly. With the rise of Islam, artists employed under Byzantine and Sasanian patronage now worked for Muslim rulers and customers, but in their indigenous styles. The earlier examples of Islamic arts and architecture relied on those techniques and showed a blend of classical and Iranian themes and motifs (Alin). Islamic artists experimented with different ways of expression and with new forms. This explains as to why same motifs could be seen on different mediums, for example, metalwork, ceramics, textiles to stone carving).

Use of Geometric Patterns

Geometric patterns have been popularly associated with Islamic art and architecture. These abstract designs can be seen adorning monumental Islamic architecture and on a vast array of objects of all types. Although the geometric ornamentation reached a highpoint in the Islamic world, they always existed among the art styles followed by Greeks, Romans, and Sasanians. Islamic artists took the idea and incorporated key elements from the classical tradition, then further elaborated upon them to create a unique new style. These geometric patterns were made of simple forms such as the circle and the square, that were combined, duplicated, interlaced to create intricate combinations. Today, those complex patterns have become the most distinguishing features of Islamic art style. It is common to see geometric patterns used with calligraphy and vegetal designs (Geometric Patterns in Islamic Art).
The geometric ornamentation in Islamic art offer a remarkable amount of freedom and do not stick to the strict rules of geometry. The four basic shapes are squares, circles, star pattern and multisided polygons that make those complicated patterns.

Use of Figures in Islamic Art

As Islam spread outward during the seventh century, the newly lands influenced the development of Islamic art profoundly. Ornamentation and the decorative vocabulary of Islamic art and architecture came to include figural representations. Human and animal forms were depicted, and these representations have flourished in nearly all Islamic cultures, despite the opposition in Islam for using human and animal forms in art.
The Islamic resistance stems from the belief that living forms are creations of God and thus unique. The Qur’an condemns idolatry and those the role of Figural images has been controversial. It is perhaps because of the religious sentiment that the human and animal figures in Islamic art and architecture were often stylized. Iconoclasm was known in the Byzantine period and the Judaic world. The stylized figures as ornament posed less challenge and were largely devoid of any major significance (Figural Representation in Islamic Art).
As with other ornamentation, Islamic artists adapted and stylized basic human and animal forms freely. Figural motifs can be found on objects or architecture, applied to patterns of textiles and in text illustrations. These works of art as visual aids were integral for miniature paintings and manuscript illustration. One will come across some fantastic motifs such as griffins, the winged felines and harpies, the female-headed birds that are based on pre-Islamic mythological sources.

The biomorphic patterns - arabesques

The term arabesque is relatively new, and the Islamic biomorphic patterns depict ornamentation in stylized forms and are strictly geometrical interlaced. Stylized plant forms show the artistic expression with a spirit of geometry. The chief biomorphic motifs that Islamic art inherited from the pre-Islamic artistic traditions can be divided into three groups such as Islamic, the tree of life and flower rosettes. Flower rosette is a stylized flower while the Tree of life depicts a plant with a clear origin (Alin).
Islamic art developed its artistic expression with time. Vegetal patterns in Islamic art and architecture represent earthly Paradise. Each of those pattern depictions can be traced back to the history of biomorphic pattern in Islamic art and how the genius of craftsmen kept the traditions alive and in strength. The latest recognizable style of vegetal decoration can be traced to the Qajar dynasty in Iran. The images in Islamic were copied but with a great skill.

Calligraphy in Islamic Art

The sophisticated calligraphy is unique to an Islamic culture. There are examples of calligraphy in bibles from northwest Europe and Chinese and Japanese art styles. However, calligraphy has been used to a much greater extent in the Islamic world. One comes across imaginative and astonishing ways calligraphy is used in Islamic art and architecture. Thus, it will not be incorrect to consider calligraphy an original feature of Islamic art. The genius of Islamic calligraphy lies in the endless versatility and creativity as well as the balance achieved by calligraphers in the art (Calligraphy in Islamic Art).
The art of calligraphy is based on Arabic language. The Arabic text of the Quran holds a high status and is sacred to Muslims. Thus, the Quran's holy status offers an explanation for calligraphy's importance, and the religious texts can be seen across all art forms. Arabic language was used extensively ever since Muhammad's time and over a huge area. The letters of the Arabic script were used in Turkish, Persian and other languages. The first formal calligraphic style was based on the city of Kufah in Iraq and is known as the Kufic style (Calligraphy in Islamic Art). It was used for inscriptions and in early Qur’an manuscripts. The new angular script styles came to prominence in the 10th century. These new style included fanciful variants and were used in coinage, manuscripts, decoration of ceramics and architectural inscriptions.
One can see the most fluid styles developing in the East because the paper had already replaced papyrus and parchment, and became the main medium for writing manuscripts and documents. Moreover, the pen moved freely over the new surface with great ease.


One cannot overlook the contribution of the Muslim World to a wide range of arts and academic disciplines. Muslims have played a significant role because of their rich creativity displayed in Islamic Arts and Architecture. It highlights the diversity of artistic expression. While the Western art showed a significant variation in styles, the Islamic art remained rather stable. Scholars and individuals well familiar with Islamic art and architecture can easily distinguish between the Art of Islamic Spain and the art of Ottoman Turkey. Researchers can make out the differences in Seljuk and Timurid art. Islamic Arts and Architecture shows amazing creativity and a significant variety of styles. The given art object can be easily related to the time, place, artistic movement as well as the style. The prime objective of the work of art under Islam was to transmit the message and was inspired by the artistic movements of the given period. This was one art style that overpowered ethnic traditions and created a peculiar kind of symbiosis between local and Islamic modes of artistic behavior and expression. A number of local artistic traditions and styles united and evolved the concept of Islamic art. Western and Islamic art developed from the same grounds but were fertilized with different ideas.

Works Cited

Alin, Marina. "Biomorphic Patterns in Islamic Art – Tracing the Origin." Islamic Arts and Architecture (2013). Print.
Alin, Marina. "Unity in Diversity– Reflections on Styles in Islamic Art." Islamic Arts and Architecture (2014). Print.
"Calligraphy in Islamic Art." VAM, 2015. Web. <>.
"The Nature of Islamic Art." The Metropolitan Museum of Art (2015). Print.
"Geometric Patterns in Islamic Art” The Metropolitan Museum of Art (2015). Print.
" Figural Representation in Islamic Art” The Metropolitan Museum of Art (2015). Print.

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