Friday, October 29, 2010

Limits of Islamic art ~ a reflection of limits on the Muslim spirit

A minbar ~ again as with almost all things to do with Islam ~ takes has its origins in the word for moon. Min-bar or Min-aret / min = moon

So much of the art of the renaisance period would not have been possible under Islamic rule. Great works of art that we have in our possession, from Vincent van Gogh to Pablo Picasso would have not have been allowed.

Luckily for the Muslim world, its control changed hands. Left to the Arabs, there would be no Islamic calligraphy or architecture, these things were developed under Syrian rule, it is even understandable that if the Syrians had kept control of Islam, we would have seen more development to do with aesthetics ~ and possibly reason.

When the Muslims conquered Syria, Syria unlike Arabia was a modern state, indeed it probably added to Islam, more than anything Islam could have added to it. Think marauding Arab tribe with Kaaba stone of worship in desert. Alexander the Great took Syria, but passed over Arabia twice on the way to and back from taking Egypt. Muhammad might have wielded his sword to carve out Islam, but Syria was the place that cooked it up. The Koran is written in part Syriac and Arabic, after the Syrian Umayyad conquest of Spain, had to deliver to the Arabians a ready made religion [completely with biblical addition].

And these austere folk hated the Umayyad opulence, many of the things Muslims cling onto today, as examples of their great past, were considered un-Islamic.

Here is Muslim art ~ the only thing they are permitted to draw ~ is the star ~ in as many variations as possible. The Islamic religion is almost Spartan in their quest to recreate the world they believe, their Prophet dreamt up. Creativity, ingenuity would therefore need to be hurled from the side of the cliff.

Following seven years of restoration, the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) opened its doors to visitors as it celebrates its centenary.

Following the renovation, MIA, which gives visitors an idea of how Islam supported and encouraged art and artists, appears to have finally recaptured its original splendour and grandeur, with more spacious galleries displaying priceless Islamic artefacts progressing through the Umayyad, Abbasid, Tulunid, Fatimid, Ayubid, Mamluk and Ottoman periods. These include calligraphy, manuscripts, ceramics, mosaics, textiles, gravestones, mashrabiya (latticed woodwork), wooden objects, metal and glass vessels, incense burners and caskets, pottery, metalwork and glass lamps dating from various periods in Islamic history.


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