In the world of Islamic architecture

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Al-Azhar Mosque

Al-Azhar Mosque

 

History of Islamic Architecture

Islamic art goes back 1300 years. Studying the history of Islamic art and architecture reveals incredible geographic diversity and monumental pieces first produced by Muslims emerging from the Arabian Peninsula in the seventh century.

As the Islamic empire expanded to the West and East, Islamic architecture influenced the local architecture and it was also influenced by the cultures and regions it reached. Much Islamic art and architecture was created through an amalgamation of local traditions and global ideas.

Greek architects, who were able to experiment with some new forms and develop an Islamic style, designed the first buildings of the Islamic Empire. One of the earliest mosques is Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, from the 600s AD. In the late 700s AD, great mosques were built in North Africa and Spain. Then, in the 800s beautiful palaces and mosques sprung up in Baghdad with unique and atypical styles. The last great Islamic building was the Palace of Ottoman Sultan built in the late 1400s AD in Istanbul. Islamic architecture covers a broad range of mosques, tombs, palaces, and forts around the world.

Fantastic Islamic Architecture

Mosques are commonly known for their Islamic designs that vary according to time and location. The most beautiful buildings in any Islamic country are the mosques; emphasizing that prayer, spirituality, and worship should play a central role in the lives of Muslims.

Great Mosque of Djenne

It is one of the greatest achievements of Islamic architecture; the largest mud brick building in the world. Located in Djenne, Mali, it is one of the most famous landmarks in Africa today. Its walls are sun-baked earth bricks coated with plaster.

The Great Mosque of Xi’an

The Great Mosque of Xi’an is the oldest and one of the most famous mosques in China. Unlike most Islamic mosques, it has neither domes nor traditional style minarets. However, it is characterized by Arabic lettering and decorations.

Great Mosque of Kairouan

Also known as the Mosque of Uqba, it is one of the most important mosques in Tunisia and one of the oldest places of worship in the Islamic world. It is one of the most impressive and largest Islamic monuments in North Africa.

The Alhambra

This sprawling palace presents a varied repertoire of Moorish Islamic architecture through its columns, arches and domes. It is remarkable for its slender columnar arcades, gardens, fountains, and the light reflecting water basins in its courtyards.

Al-Azhar Mosque

Al-Azhar Mosque was the first mosque to be built in Cairo and was originally designed to be a prayer hall with a modest courtyard. Its stucco exterior displays influences from Byzantine architecture.

Taj Mahal

It is widely recognized as “the jewel of Muslim art in India” and is one of the most universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage. Its exterior decorations are among the finest in Mogul architecture.

Patterns in Islamic Architecture

Geometric, calligraphy, and vegetal are three main patterns in Islamic art. Geometric patterns are associated with Islamic art. These abstract designs not only adorn the surfaces of monumental Islamic architecture but also function as the major decorative element on a vast array of objects. Free of any symbolic meaning, geometrical designs could evoke a sense of transcendent beauty; a general aura of spirituality without offending religious sensibilities. Calligraphy is the most highly regarded, decorative, and most fundamental element of Islamic Art. It is significant that the Qur’an was transmitted in Arabic, and calligraphy was adopted to transmit the holy text. Kufic and the cursive Naskhi are the two most known scripts. Vegetal patterns employed alone or in combination with the other major types of ornament adorn a vast number of buildings, manuscripts, objects, and textiles, produced throughout the Islamic world. Unlike calligraphy, which was widely popular in the early Islamic Arab lands, vegetal represented a new development.

Dome in Islamic Art

The dome is considered as one of the most important architectural elements in mosques. The interior of the dome is usually highly decorated with floral, geometric and other patterns. Referring to domes in Islamic architecture, traveler Brian Wingate said, “The designs are so intricate and geometric that they seem to turn in endlessly upon themselves, inviting your own mind to do the same.”

Mosaics in Islamic Art

An important feature of Islamic art is mosaic pictures that are geometric and abstract, rather than representational. Mosaics adorn both religious and secular buildings and also appear in glassware such as dishes and bowls.

Wood Work

Craftsmen treated wood as a precious resource, and they learned to use small pieces of it to great artistic advantage, elaborating such techniques in the mosque’s minbar or pulpit for the orator. The door of the mosque is nicely decorated using small pieces of wood to form designs. Mashrabiyya is a form of wood designs in which small pieces of wood are joined together, often used as a screen over a window. This technique is also found in small wooden objects, such as boxes, tables, and stands in the Islamic world. Ultimately, the goal of Islamic geometry and art is to create a beautiful space, which is in physical harmony. This attempt is intended to be a reflection of the diving concept that humans should live in harmony and balance within their own selves, with one another, with all living creatures, and with their environment.

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