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Lecture 6

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Art History
ARTH 120
Una D' Elia

October 15, 2013 Islamic Art & Architecture - Why is it a part of the tradition of the west? o Recognizes Hebrew and Christian scripture – all believe in monotheism o Strict worship of one god – anything that departs from this (Christian Trinity) considered heretical by Muslims, making God into many o See Hebrew prophets as true prophets, see Jesus as a prophet but not as son of God and God come down to earth o Messenger is Mohammed – became horrified with divisions between rich and poor in Mecca, cutthroat capitalism, devoted himself to prayer and went to mountains to meditate  Gabriel came to Mohammed and told him a series of poetic recitations in Arabic, directly the word of God o Recognize enormous contribution that Muslim scholars made to Muslim culture o Translation of knowledge from Greek o Spread of Islam was both peaceful and for war (jihad – struggle for freedom to express own religion, more fundamentally inner struggle within yourself to be a good person) th - Kufic script from a Qu’ran, 9 century o Message of Qu’ran deeply skeptical of theological speculation – self-indulgent guesswork o Practical compassion, don’t be selfish, share wealth with poor o 5 Pillars  Affirmation of faith (no God but God and Mohammed is messenger – pure monotheism)  5 daily prayers (abandoning yourself to God) • Similar emphasis on overturning of social distinctions  Fasting during the month of Ramadan  Pilgrimage  Charity o Profound ban on images of God/Mohammed – not wanting to have anything make God seem more human, set anyone up as a potential other God  Images carry the danger of idolatry  Consistent Muslim tradition o Enormous emphasis on the words of the Qu’ran - nothing lost in translation, study them in the original language with a direct access to the divine and understanding God’s commands o Very writing is precious – page covered in royal blue and writing in gold  Kufic script is stylized to give it extraordinary elegance  Writing was seen as a soul-nurturing accomplishment, we are flesh but writing is pure spirit, purity of geometry - Map with Mecca, Medina, Jerusalem, Al-Andalus, Persia, and Istanbul (Constantinople) o Rapid spread of Islam – started out in Mecca, Medina and spread throughout middle east (Persia, North Africa, Al-Anadlus) - Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem, ca. 690 and later o Just as Christians adopted sites important to pagans in Rome, so too Muslims sought to ally themselves with older traditions and to appropriate their forms and show dominance over other traditions o Muslim Mosque – shrine to mark place where Jewish prophet Solomon built temple  High dome  In imitating form of holy Christian site, placing mosque on Jewish site using classical pagan forms, calls upon draws from different traditions, continuity with Judaism and Christianity  No images of people, mosaics – floral decorations, elaborate geometric patterning, colored marble, gold • Material richness giving a sense of honor and reflection of divine without images of people - Interior of Prayer Hall, Great Mosque, Cordobe, 8 -10 c. CE o Classicism – columns of capitals, taken from a local church incorporated into a mosque o No central focus; mosque plans: open courtyard, with columns o Fragmented space b/c there is no clergy in Islam; anyone can off
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