(Last Updated on : 29/09/2010)
Islamic art includes the entire plethora of artistic works produced from the 7th century onwards in places that were inhabited by Muslim populations. The entire gamut of Islamic architectural works includes fields as varied as architecture, calligraphy, painting, and ceramics, among others. It must be noted that Islamic art does not just refer to the religion only. It includes the rich and varied Islamic culture as well. In fact Islamic art has been known to adopt a number of secular elements as well, though they are frowned upon by the staunch traditions and theologians. To a large extent, Islamic art has centred on exhibiting patterns and Arabic calligraphy. Human figures are not usually depicted as it is seen as a form of idolatry which is prohibited by the Holy Quran
as it is a sin against Allah. Islamic arts have developed across the length and breadth of the world in keeping with the local traditions and styles. The various works of Islamic art include calligraphy, miniatures, music, painting, pottery and many more such works of art.
Influences on Islamic Art
A number of sources have gone into the making and development of Islamic art. These include Roman, Early Christian art, and Byzantine styles which were adapted in Islamic art as well as architecture. A major influence which had a deep impact on Islamic art is that of the Sassanian art of pre-Islamic Persia. The various Central Asian nomadic incursions introduced yet newer elements into Islamic art. Islamic poetry, painting and textiles were influenced to quiet an extent by the Chinese.
Style of Islamic Art
A repetition known as the Arabesque is one of the most common patterns in the Islamic artistic style. This involves repeating certain elements such as floral, vegetal or geometrical designs. The Arabesque style used in Islamic art is mostly held symbolic of the all pervasive and infinite nature of Allah. A choice specimen of calligraphic writing is often a prominent decoration in a room. A frieze of inscriptions was a common adornment of a building. The best expression of Islamic art can be found in architectural constructions, especially the mosque.
Through the edifices, the effect of varying cultures within Islamic civilization can be illustrated. Domes play a rather prominent part in Islamic architecture.
Islamic Art in India
Islamic art in India came with the advent of the Delhi Sultanate
and the Slave dynasty. They brought with them elements and styles of Islamic art. With the founding of Islamic kingdoms in Gujarat
, Bengal, Malwa, Jaunpur and the north Deccan, Persian traditions gradually started fading away and an original form of Islamic art was now developed. This art was the result of the interaction between Muslim and Hindu art of the region. Though artistic objects were not much in production at this time, manuscript illumination was a major art during this initial era of Muslim rule in India. The Sultanates were later replaced by the Mughals and the greatest Islamic art in India was produced during this period. There was seen the development of a distinctive plan and style in Islamic Architecture, and this was seen reflected in the various splendid monuments built during this time.
The art of jewellery carving and hardstone carving of the various precious gemstones such as rubies, diamonds, emeralds, jade etc were in vogue during the Mughal times. The series of hard stone daggers in the form of horses' heads is particularly impressive. Metallurgy was also a fine art practised by the Mughals. Not only did they refine the locally produced Wootz steel, but they also introduced the newer Damascus steel. They introduced the 'Bidri' technique of metalwork in which silver motifs are pressed against a black background. Seamless celestial globes were created by famous Mughal metallurgists such as Ali Kashmiri and Muhammed Salih Thatawi. Persian and Hindu influences can be perceived in a number of Mughal works. The rich Islamic arts in India were later greatly added to by the splendour and majesty of the regal Nawabs.
Thus given above is a brief glimpse into the world of Islamic art.