History of Islamic Art - Essay Example

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The Umayyad dynasty ruled it, the name of which was derived from Umayyad ibn Abd Shams, the great-grandfather of the first Umayyad caliph. Though the origin of…
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History of Islamic Art
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Islamic Art The second of the four significant Islamic caliphates formed after the demise of Muhammad was the Umayyad Caliphate. The Umayyad dynasty ruled it, the name of which was derived from Umayyad ibn Abd Shams, the great-grandfather of the first Umayyad caliph. Though the origin of the Umayyad family belongs to the Mecca city, and their capital was Damascus. At the great extent, the dynasty made the largest ever empire and covered around five million square miles of the area. It was the seventh largest bordering empire that had ever existed. The Abbasid Caliphate later overthrew the Umayyad and was able to flee across Iberian Peninsula towards North Africa (Ettinghausen, Richard, 25-29). In this area they formed the Caliphate of Córdoba, which remained until 1031 before falling due to the Fitna of al-Ándalus.
The Islamic art entails the visual arts that were produced by the people from 7th century and onwards. Thus, this art is tough to define since it covers various lands and diverse people for the time period of more than 1400 years. The vast capacity of Islamic architecture pertains to a distinctive article, belonging to various fields such as painting, textiles, calligraphy, ceramics, and glass among others. Some of the fields of art in the Umayyad dynasty are described below:
Architecture: The building of the Umayyad dynasty is constructed with the local materials, generally of ashlars stone, which is usually combined with brick. The mosques and monuments with their austere exteriors provide the buildings a lavish interior decoration which is made of geometrically-patterned marble mosaics and revetment depict vegetal forms architecture, and objects with royal connotations such as vases and crowns.
Carvings: The primary decoration components of the Umayyads art had derived from the late-classical customs of wall- and floor-mosaic, stone-carving and wall-painting. It also uses the plaster decoration, which was adopted from the Hellenised East. These designs are found across the complete range of mediums just like the geometrical deigns and vary from book illustration to plasterwork; in woodwork, ceramics, ivory-carving and metalwork, even in textiles and carpets.
Metalwork: The art patronage has been a symbol of authority and kingship and has emerged as a theme from the creative appropriations from past and abroad (Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History). Numerous luxurious objects including the boxes of bronze animal statuary, gilt silver and carved ivory, and luxuriously figured silks had been commissioned for palaces ornamented with stucco wall panels, ornate marble capitals, and marble fountains.
Majority of the ideas and innovations created in the period of Umayyad dynasty were significantly of the architectural in nature. Magnificent buildings were planned, realized, imagined and developed during this time. Thus, the decorations of these buildings were inspired by the Muslim cultures and adopted by the foreign cultures in terms of embellishments. This refers to the fact that the Islamic art has always been creative and original in its nature and assimilates various Islamic traditions and cultures in order to represent the artistic aesthetics in a unique and outstanding manner.
Ettinghausen, Richard, Oleg Grabar, Marilyn Jenkins-Madina, Islamic Art and Architecture 650-1250 (2nd ed.), 2003, Yale University Press.
Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. The Art of the Umayyad Period and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012, Web. Retrieved on November 6, 2012 Read More
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