Islamic art is a comprehensive term that consists of a huge variety of visual arts that came into being after the emergence of Islam in the Arabian desert in 7th century AD. These arts were created by residents of Muslim-populated territories such as the Arab world, Turkey, Spain and Iran, or by those living in areas which were ruled by Muslims even though they were numerically slim such as in medieval India. Islamic art encompasses anaeon of over 1400 years and comprises a host of art forms like calligraphy, painting, glass, pottery, and carpet-making.
Islamic artincludes secular, non-religious items too like geometric patterns and floral motifs found in Islamic wall art in palaces, homes, mosques, monuments as well as in wooden artefacts and carpets.
1} Calligraphy: Arabic calligraphy is the first thing that comes to mind when the word Islamic art comes up. Arabic was spoken and written in pre-Islamic Arabia, but Arabic calligraphy received a fresh impetus after the emergence of Islam. Besides the need to develop and standardise the script for transcribing and compiling the Quran, Arabic calligraphy was also developed as a form of art. Since Islam prohibits human and animal imagery, monuments in the Islamic world were decorated with Arabic calligraphy, which consisted of stylishly written Quranic verses. This is known as Islamic wall art.
2} Miniature paintings: A miniature painting is a tiny painting on a paper and has secular value. It is a confidential court document andis kept in an album called the ‘muraqqa’. Not meant for public display or religious use, it includes human and animal imagery. These paintings originated in Iran in the 13thcentury, and were later used in Ottomon Turkey and Mughal India.
3] Rugs and carpets: Carpet-making is second only to calligraphy in terms of visibility and use in the world of Islamic art. Indeed, Quranic calligraphy also adorns carpets, and thus carpets, especially from Turkey, Iran and Kashmir, are prized items of Islamic wall art.But carpets also have utilitarian value and are used as prayer mats and for covering entire floors.In such cases, they are not adorned with Quranic verses, but with non-religious decoration such as floral motifs and borders. Carpet weaving is a long-standing industry in Muslim societies, and can be seen in large, organisedurban factories as well as in informal communities in the countryside.
4} Ceramic pottery: In the absence of figurative wall paintings, ceramic tiles were used as Islamic wall art in monuments. Ceramic pottery also flourished in Muslim-ruled empires. The earliest evidence of ceramic pottery in Muslim lands dates to the 8th century in Basra, Iraq. Later, Chinese influence played a big part in the evolution of ceramic pottery in the Muslim world following the Mongol invasions in the 13th century. Most of the pottery crafted in Muslim countries is characterised by blue and green shades.
Indeed, the above forms of Islamic art are still very much in use in the Islamic world.
In the modern age, as people buy online Islamic art, new innovations such as canvas paintings, leather printing and vinyl wall decals are making their own significant contributions to Islamic wall art. Who knows – these modern trends would also get written down in the glorious history of Islamic art.