Art of Islam
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Islamic art is not the art of a nation or of a people, but that of a religion: Islam. Spreading from the Arabian Peninsula, the proselyte believers conquered, in a few centuries, a territory spreading from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean. Multicultural and multi-ethnical, this polymorphic and highly spiritual art, in which all representation of Man and God were prohibited, developed canons and various motives of great decorative value. Thorough and inventive, these artists expressed their beliefs by creating monumental masterpieces such as the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, the Taj Mahal in Agra and the Alhambra in Granada, architectural works in which one recognises the stylisation of motives of the Muslim ceramics. Lively and coloured, Islamic art mirrors the richness of these people whose common denominator was the belief in one singular truth: the absolute necessity of creating works whose beauty equaled their respect for God.
or Islamic structures in Morocco, were replications of Baghdad’s gardens, which in turn emulated the paradise gardens of Sassanid kings. Splendid gardens appear frequently in Muslim architecture. Indeed, for these children of the desert, after suffering from the effects of heat, thirst, extreme exposure to light and drought, nothing could be more gratifying than relaxing under cool shades, listening to the soft sound of water spewing from fountains, and being able to stroll around admiring the
either gilded on marble or painted on faience, and the faience panelling of the mihrab wall which covers it right up to the springing of the vault – even without these elements, the columns of porphyry, voussoirs of black and white marble, stalactites, proportion of the bays, arcades and stanchions and the cadence in the rows of arches and domes that the architect borrowed his mode of expression. The two columns of ancient red porphyry and the two columns of pink syenite that support the lateral
hardstone. Its general blend of white and gold, including its doors’ corner pieces in blue and red tones, reflects local taste, as exquisite gold and colourful embroidery on white silk backgrounds were then still being produced in Agra. The Taj is merely the centre of this composition, surrounded by elaborate gardens adorned with pools and marble canals fed by fountain jets. The garden’s entrance is, in itself, a monument, with its large red sandstone façade and a rather severe harmony, enhanced
mosaic, the dominant ones of light and dark blues, and white (geometric, epigraphic and star motifs). Another important edifice with a mosaic faience surface is the Sirçali Medrese in Konya, built by Bedr ed Din (1267-1354), to serve as a law school. Its light blue faience and terracotta tiles form a harmonious blend, a peculiarly Persian idea. An inscription noticed by Sarre bears the name and country of the ceramist who executed it. “Mohammed, son of Osman, the master-journeyman of Toûs.” Toûs
and sought refuge in Seljuq courts. These Persian artists who came to construct Seljuq monuments in Konya were most definitely the forefathers of those who used ceramics to coat the walls of the mosques of Bursa, the Green Mosque (1424) and the Ipek Han, which dates back to Mohammed I. This use of faience mosaic, which probably originated from Khorassan, was preserved in Persia, where it can be seen on many 14th- and 15th-century monuments. In Sultanieh, it was equally used in the construction of