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Islamic Art - The Legendary Phenomenon of Rich Creativity

Early Islamic Art originated in the seventh century from the region, now known as Syria. Islamic Art encompassed the works of all artists, irrespective of their religion, living on the lands under Muslim Empire. As a result, Islamic Art is a confluence of various art cultures. Islamic Art had architecture, calligraphy, painting, and ceramics, as its key forms.

In the Early Islamic Period, from seventh to tenth century, the most prominent art form was calligraphy. This involves decorating text, including the use of ornamental motifs and embellishments to enhance the appeal of walls and curios in palaces, mosques, and homes. Islamic Calligraphy uses proverbs and verses from the Holy Quran, and is therefore, one of the noblest art forms. It mainly employs two symbolic scripts, 'Kufic' and 'Naskh.'

'Glazed Ceramics' (eighth to eighteenth century), such as "Stonepaste Ceramics of Iraq" (ninth century) were the other splendors of the Islamic pottery. 'Lusterware Pottery,' originally from Iraq of the eighth century, and 'Enameled Glass' were a couple of more prominent eighth and ninth century pottery art forms, of which 'tin-opacified glazing' like "blue-painted opaque glaze wares of Basra" (eighth century), and 'lusterware' were the two 'revolutionary' techniques discovered. In addition, the first industrial complex for 'gilded' & 'enameled glass' production was established in eighth century only, in Syria.

A feature unique to all Islamic Art forms was covering the creative medium surfaces with complex geometric, vegetal, and intricate floral patterns. The recurrence of these patterns, called 'Arabesque' probably hints at the infinite nature of Allah. Luxury artworks, such as beautiful relief-cut, stained, & mosaic glass, intricate tile work, fine ivory caskets, and metalwork peaked in the Medieval Islamic Era (from tenth to fifteenth century).

Islamic Architecture is probably the most important and the most prolific form of Islamic Art. The "Dome of the Rock (Qubbat al-Sakhrah)," in Jerusalem, built in the 691 CE, is perhaps the oldest Muslim building intact in its original form. The use of domes in their buildings has been an integral feature of Islamic Architecture, which was carried through to the nineteenth century western architecture. "The Great Mosque of Cordoba," in Spain and "Alhambra Palace," in Granada, exhibit 'Roman-Byzantine' influences. "The Citadel in Cairo," Egypt, "Turkish Bath Houses (Hamams)," "Caravan Inns (Caravanserai)" of Central Asia, and "Tombs" throughout the Middle East, are the key examples of Medieval Islamic Architecture. Intricate tile works and geometric tiling were the prominent architectural features of this period. The "Taj Mahal," in India, built in the seventeenth century by the Mughal Emperor Shahjahan, is the most brilliant example of the Modern Islamic Architecture.

New art forms, such as jewelry making, stone carving, painting, textile weaving, and manuscript illumination, gained importance during the Later Islamic Period. Some of the finest Islamic Pile Carpets, especially 'Oriental Rugs' and 'Persian Carpets' were created during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Miniature paintings of people, strictly secular in nature, were found in the courts of "Iran" and "Mughal India." Figurative imagery is not very popular in Islamic Art, as idol worship is banned under the 'Sharia Law' of Islam.

Islamic Literature includes the rich works, such as "The Book of One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights)" (tenth to fourteenth century), a compilation of tales by Persian Queen Scheherazade; "Ferdowsi's Shahnameh," an Iranian Epic based on Persian History, and "Amir Arsalan," Persian mythological story. "Layla and Majnun" (seventh century), Arabic & Persian Poetry, is the probable influence for the creation of 'Romeo & Juliet' later. Ibn Tufail's (Abubacer) "Hayy ibn Yaqdhan (Philosophus Autodidactus)," which inspired Daniel Defoe to write 'Robinson Crusoe' and Rudyard Kipling to write 'The Jungle Book,' introduced the concept of philosophical novels to the world, while Ibn al-Nafis' "Theologus Autodidactus" is the first science fiction novel. Islamic Eschatology, the "Hadith" and the "Kitab al-Miraj," inspired Dante Alighieri's 'Divine Comedy,' Peele's 'The Battle of Alcazar,' and Shakespeare's 'The Merchant of Venice,' 'Titus Andronicus,' & 'Othello.' In addition, Islamic, Persian, and Arabic music, Puppet theatre, and passion plays called 'ta'ziya' are other splendid Islamic Art forms.