By Gaston Migeon, Henri Saladin

Islamic paintings isn't the artwork of a country nor of a humans, yet that of a faith: Islam. Spreading from the Arabian Peninsula, the proselyte believers conquered, in a number of centuries, a territory spreading from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean. Multicultural and multi-ethnical, this polymorphic and hugely non secular artwork, during which all illustration of guy and God was once prohibited, constructed canons and numerous causes of significant ornamental price. Thorough and artistic, those artists expressed their ideals through developing huge masterpieces similar to the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, the Taj Mahal in Agra or the Alhambra in Granada, architectural works during which one recognises the stylisation of reasons of the Muslim ceramics. vigorous and colored, Islamic artwork mirrors the richness of individuals whose universal denominator used to be the idea in a single singular fact: absolutely the necessity of making works whose good looks equaled their admire for God.

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However, the mosques of the 13th century and later are known from extant monuments, perhaps the most famous of which is that of the kings of Granada in Alhambra, which is particularly remarkable in general design, lavishness and beauty. In my opinion, it is only in India that Muslim sovereigns managed to outshine the splendour of Andalusian palaces, especially in the extravagance of the materials used. In his History of the Berbers, Ibn Khaldun presents a description of detached pavilions with raised domes, kiosks, aqueducts, fountains, basins forming large reflecting pools (a Sassanian tradition which was introduced to the West via Mesopotamia), pavilions of marble columns whose walls were coated in marble or faience mosaic.

The relatively Córdoba. qxp 3/18/2009 2:48 PM Page 40 severe decoration and the simple and vigorous plans comprise the major features of a layout with excellent proportions. The Giralda (1195) The Great Mosque of Seville was constructed between 1171 and 1172. Its extant minaret is the famous Giralda, erected by Yacoub El Mansour, who expanded the mosque from 1195 to 1197 while constructing numerous monuments in Morocco and in Andalusia. The entire Arab section (the crown dates from the Renaissance) is made of bricks, and the decoration, initially very simple, becomes more sophisticated as you it ascends.

The platband with its columns and ceilings includes the roof framing and timber construction, the walls of which can either be made of baked or unbaked bricks, rough stones, or half-timberings covered with earth and bricks. This system of construction comes from Assyrian and Median art. Vaulted buildings, with arcades and without monolithic columns, from Chaldean and Persian traditions as well as Sassanian art, have only brick pillars as isolated support points, built on either a circular, octagonal, or square plan flanked by four attached columns.

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