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spirituality 15.pdf

spirituality 15.pdf

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Published by: Francisco Ascencio on Feb 06, 2013
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02/06/2013

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spirituality - lesson 15: decoration

the blue mosque in mazar-e-sharif, afghanistan in 726 AD, under the direction of emperor leo III, an iconoclastic movement swept the byzantine empire. religious images were deemed blasphemous as the power of life was unique to GOD, only he alone could create images and breathe life into them. this, along with judaic traditions of aniconicism (no representation of 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 a rich vocabulary of abstract non-figurative representations of GOD has evolved. creating figurative art is seen as challenging the omnipotence of GOD and thus becoming a competitor of GOD. by banning such representations universal forms are created instead which are able to include all islamic audiences equally. the concept of al-twahid (doctrine of unity) becomes central to islamic imagery. the abstraction in symmetrical and meditative geometry releases the consciousness from inward idols and illusionary worlds and provides a metaphor for entering into spiritual relationship with GOD. as we have discussed in lesson 12: carpets, the use of geometric pattern is not simplyas quantitative embellishment but provided quantitative centre for contemplation. the sophisticated complexity is used to reflect islamic life and all the time expressing DIVINE UNITY interlaced in every part of the world, inexhaustibly. muslim intellectuals recognised that geometry was the unifying intermediary between the material and spiritual world. the complex decoration adopted by islamic artists covers practically every surface considered religious art; rugs, small sacred objects, paintings, walls, ceilings etc. the culture of arab nomads was perhaps not as imperial in scale and yet their aesthetic taste certainly contributed to future geometric tendencies. repetitive crystalline forms can be seen through their craftsmanship inspired by the infinite stars in the night sky and magnitude of the desert. the abstract and linear co-existing to express man and nature.

the blue mosque in mazar-e-sharif, afghanistan architecture as a canvas all over the islamic world from spain to china to indonesia decorative pattern can be seen expressed on all sorts of scales; from applied arts to architecture. the decoration helps contribute to a feeling of continuous space in islamic architecture, and whilst each room might contain it's own pattern and logic there will be an underlying logic that relates to the whole building, textiles, pottery, books and metalwork. the numbers or mathematics that coordinate the patterns reflect the islamic belief that numbers are divine and contribute to absolute unity. mostly decoration is reserved for the inside of islamic architecture, only domes and entrances are likely to have adornment. inside mosques ceramic inlays and arabesque stuccoes interplay to create an overall theme based on the text from the qu'ran. the complexity is heightened by the colour of the ceramic tiles, which play with the light and give a subtle glossy effect to the walls. all pattern is not simply two dimensional but instead brought alive through the contrast and intricacy of the glazed tiles. a sense of rhythm is found within the spirit of the geometry. pools or fountains of water are used to enhance and multiply pattern like a mirror, emphasising the visual axes. the reflection in the water is unchanged and yet constantly changing and dynamic; fluid yet static.

two of the four iwan of the friday mosque in isfahan

floral and kufic calligraphy on the dome of the masjid-i shah, isfahan

the ceiling of the imam mosque, isfahan

the star of alhambra in the hall of ambasadors

detail of the star of alhambra with the combination of geometric honeycomb structure and arabesque patterns words as patterns in islam, the qu'ran is seen as the true revelation of GOD. writing and literacy marked a significant progression in arabic culture and so the book lies centrally, as a guide to daily muslim life. writing, or rather calligraphy therefore is seen as the highest of islamic arts and has had a considerable influence on decoration and pattern. the content of the qu'ran has evolved into abstract pattern itself enhancing ornamentation and spiritual symbolism. the proportion of letters are also governed by the same mathematics as the circle, triangle and polygon and therefore lends itself easily to undulating abstract lines and forms. using words as artistry has it's obvious benefit, one easily avoids figurative imagery and yet can precisely depict the word of GOD. as a language arabic became an important component of islamic culture. even persian and turkish cultures adopted arabic as a foundation to their written language, adding their own lettering to the set. considered the earliest expression of arabic calligraphy, kufic script was angular in form and its rectangular nature meant that is was well suited for using in patterns on textiles and architectural monuments. kufi is considered the most minimalist of all islamic calligraphy and so not the most beautiful for decorations. from kufi developed a far more cursive style of text, such as nashki, thuluth or farsi, that lent itself nicely to the more elaborate patterns in decoration. the script can flow back and forth more easily in the 3 archetypal patterns of arabesque, geometric interlacing and complex polygons. the words included in islamic decoration are more than simply letter formations, each one is filled with energy and meaning beyond language. the interplay of lines, right-angled serif and graceful loops produces a rhythmical effect of a dynamic structure and procession.

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