Islamic art is perhaps the most accessible manifestation of a complex civilization that often seems enigmatic to outsiders. Through its brilliant use of color and its superb balance between design and form, Islamic art creates an immediate visual impact. Its strong aesthetic appeal transcends distances in time and space, as well as differences in language, culture, and creed. Islamic art not only invites a closer look but also beckons the viewer to learn more.
"The term Islamic art may be confusing to some. It not only describes the art created specifically in the service of , but it also characterizes secular art produced in lands under Islamic rule or influence, whatever the artist's or the patron's religious affiliation. The term suggests an art unified in style and purpose, and indeed there are certain common features that distinguish the arts of all Islamic lands."1 Although this is a highly dynamic art, which is often marked by strong regional characteristics as well as by significant influences from other cultures, it retains an overall coherence that is remarkable given its vast geographic and temporal boundaries. Of paramount concern to the development of this singular art is Islam itself, which fostered the creation of a distinctive visual culture with its own unique artistic language. Calligraphy is the most important and pervasive element in Islamic art. It has always been considered the noblest form of art because of its association with the , the Muslim holy book, which is written in Arabic. This preoccupation with beautiful writing extended to all arts including secular manuscripts; inscriptions on palaces; and those applied to metalwork, pottery, stone, glass, wood, and textiles and to non-Arabic-speaking peoples within the Islamic commonwealth whose languages such as Persian, Turkish, and Urdu were written in the Arabic script. Another characteristic of Islamic art is a preference for covering surfaces with patterns composed...
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