spirituality - lesson 15: decoration
the blue mosque in mazar-e-sharif, afghanistan
in 726 AD, under the direction of emperor leo III, an iconoclastic movementswept the byzantine empire. religious images were deemed blasphemous as thepower of life was unique to GOD, only he alone could create images and breathelife into them. this, along with judaic traditions of aniconicism (no representationof GOD in human or animal form) was to influence islamic religious art forever.for this reason the role of image makers has been controversial and as such arich vocabulary of abstract non-figurative representations of GOD has evolved.creating figurative art is seen as challenging the omnipotence of GOD and thusbecoming a competitor of GOD. by banning such representations universal formsare created instead which are able to include all islamic audiences equally. theconcept of al-twahid (doctrine of unity) becomes central to islamic imagery. theabstraction in symmetrical and meditative geometry releases the consciousnessfrom inward idols and illusionary worlds and provides a metaphor for entering intospiritual relationship with GOD.as we have discussed in lesson 12: carpets, the use of geometric pattern is notsimplyas quantitative embellishment but provided quantitative centre for contemplation. the sophisticated complexity is used to reflect islamic life and allthe time expressing DIVINE UNITY interlaced in every part of the world,inexhaustibly. muslim intellectuals recognised that geometry was the unifyingintermediary between the material and spiritual world.the complex decoration adopted by islamic artists covers practically everysurface considered religious art; rugs, small sacred objects, paintings, walls,ceilings etc. the culture of arab nomads was perhaps not as imperial in scale andyet their aesthetic taste certainly contributed to future geometric tendencies.repetitive crystalline forms can be seen through their craftsmanship inspired bythe infinite stars in the night sky and magnitude of the desert. the abstract andlinear co-existing to express man and nature.