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  • 10/17/2007

Brief History of Islamic Art


Islamic art is often defined in art books as being an art whose boundaries are not geographical but theological. That is, this style of art called Islamic, was produced in many different geographic regions whose diverse cultures were unified through the religion of Islam.


A New Culture

Islam began as a religious movement in early 7th century Arabia and quickly spread throughout the Middle East. Before the next century Muslems had conquered and converted Byzantium and Persia, as well as parts of Asia, Africa and Europe. For the next six centuries, until the Mongol nomads sacked the Muslem capital of Baghdad in 1258, the nation of Islam was the world's largest empire and the site of a great cultural flowering.

Synthesis of many cultures

This Islamic culture linked for the first time in history, such varied and distant peoples as Spaniards, Africans, Persians, Turks, Egyptians and Indians. The uniting of so many diverse cultures under one flag and one religion had the advantage of quickly disseminating the latest and best discoveries to all parts of the realm. Paper making from China, "Arabic" numerals from India, classical Greek science and philosophy translations, were all shared. In medicine the Muslims enhanced Greek theory by practical observation and clinical experience. Significant contributions were also made in chemistry, physics and mathematics. These diverse influences also encouraged new developments in the various fields of art.



To the early architects of the mosque we may attribute the development of the pointed arch, the brick dome, and brick vaulted arcades. Unique to Islamic architecture are the minaret , a tower from which the faithful are called to worship, and the gumbat, turbe or tomb tower .

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