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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Islamic Art

Art is something that is created by man to express their feelings or to convey a message. In Islamic arts, the messages of Allah are conveyed through art medias such as porcelain ware, biuilding designs, metalwork, textiles, carpets and other everyday objects. The messages are condensed into one word, which is "Tauhid" meaning the oneness of Allah and is the main characteristics of Islamic arts.

One of the branches of Islamic arts is the Islamic calligraphy. The words used in Islamic calligraphy chiefly consists of Arabic words, verses in the Quran, or jawi,an adapted arabic alphabet for writing in Malay.They are generally used to decorate the walls of mosques, porcelain ware, glassware, tombstones, coins, carpets, textiles and metalworks.

There are many types of Arabic calligraphy, but the two best known are the Kufi and Naskhi. the shape of Kufi letters are mainly perpendicular because it is patterned in the way soldiers marced in Mesopotamia. Since the letters are staright and perpendicular, they are most suitable for carving on mosaic, tiles and stones in buildings such as mosques and fortresses. As time progressed, the calligraphy began to develop from it's origianl form to beautiful floral forms.

Different from the Kufi, the Nashki is cursive and linear in form. Since the 12th century, it had replaced the Kufi calligraphy in that it began to be used as a decorative repertoire in Islamic works of art. The Naskhi is more favoured because it's cursive and linear forms enabled much faster writing. The Thuluth was the most popular form in the Naskhi calligraphy. The thuluth are used for the Quran and also commonly found carved out on monuments in Iran and Turkey.

During the 13th century, another form of calligraphy was introduced known as Taliq. Later, the Nastaliq form appeared which is a combination of Naskhi and Taliq. This form is used in Shahnameh manuscripts, literary works of Iran poets. Besides that, there is also the Diwan or Diwani calligraphy. Although adopted as the official writing of Turkey, it is seldom used in works of art or manuscripts.

In Islamic architecture, the characteristics of the buildings represents the expressions of feelings, peace, tranquility and purity. The structure provides maximum entry of light, for it is believed to create a sense of harmony with the environment and also a sense of comfort. Furthermore, the buildings are equipped with beautiful interior and exterior decorative designs which can mostly be found on walls, arcades and roofs. One of the examples of beautiful Islamic architecture is the Madinah mosque.

Other than that, the ceramics of Islamic religion also possessed artistic values. The creation, designs and art of decorating these fragile items were greatly influenced by Chinese ceramics. The ceramics are mostly decorated with only two different colours, but some are multicoloured, adding to their beauty and uniqueness. The basic ceramics are glazed
porcelains and tricolour glazed porcelains. The objects created are mainly everyday objects such as teapot, incence burner, pottery, bowls and candle holder.

Metalwork are not left out in the Islamic art. Compared to other forms of art, metalwork has attained a high standard of technical development and representation in Islamic arts. The metalworks are historically influenced by Sassanian and East Asian arts. Gold and silver were rarely used because the prohibition on it's use for men in Islamic faith. The products of metalwork are usually weapons and armor. The blades are carved with intricate desi
gns and calligraphy or are sometimes inlaid with jewels like ruby or emerald.

Conclusively, Islamic artists create their works of art out of observation, perception and intimate experience of the environment. Muslim artists are constrained by certain religious imperatives. For instance, they must accept that space (the environment) is created by Allah and they themselves are also Allah's creation. They must accept Allah's oneness. Therefore, their creation should not be too extreme because such an act can affect their faith and consequently drove them to be proud or arrogant. Hence, Muslim artists are prohibited from creating human figurines or use human forms in their creations, lest they be tempted into idolatory or polytheism.

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