Influence of Islamic Art in the West and the World

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Spread of Islamic Art in Europe

In general, the spread of Islamic art motifs to Europe and the whole world takes place in three different ways:

The first is direct imitation through reproduction of the same theme in the same type of medium

For example, artistic themes (or themes) in Islamic ceramics can be reproduced in European ceramics. There are many examples of this kind of imitation. Perhaps the most widely recognized are the many examples of imitation of the Kufic inscriptions in European medieval and Renaissance art. According to Christie (1922), the Kufic inscription at Ibn Tulun Mosque, which was built in Cairo in 879, was reproduced in the first Gothic art in France, then throughout Europe. Lethaby (1904) was also associated with a pattern of carving wooden doors in the chapel of Le Puy Cathedral (France), and another door at the nearby La Vaute Chillac church, which was made by the master engraver “Fredus Gan”. This relationship was associated with a special relationship that Amalfi had with the Fatimids of Cairo at that time. Amalfitan traders who visited Cairo are believed to be responsible for shipping this motif to Europe.

gaya seni masjid alhambra
Tiles at the Alhambra Palace show geometric decorations and Naskhi Calligraphy, Granada, Spain.
Male (1928) found traces of Islamic influence in many religious buildings in Southern France, in the area known as Midi. List of Islamic motifs, which he composed of these buildings, including horseshoes and multifoil and polycromic arches. He believed that they were copied from Andalusia. Islamic influences were also tracked at Westminster Abbey in London, in ornament bands in retable as well as in previous stained glass windows (Lethaby 1904). This is not all. Motives such as eight-pointed stars, stalactites, Ottoman flowers (tulips and carnations) and geometric and color schemes of the Alhambra are only a few items that make up an important part of most European art works (see Fikri 1934) [12]. In addition, it is widely held that Gothic geometric medals such as polyfoil, quatrefoil or foliated squares also originate from Islam (Marcais, 1945).

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The second way the motives of Islamic art are transferred to Europe is through the transposition of sources or media

In this case, the theme of Islam in certain media is reproduced in European art in different types of media. For example, themes in Islamic ceramics can be reproduced in furniture, textiles, European sculptures and so on. Examples of this type of transfer are very broad, and we cannot cover everything here. The easiest example is arabesque. According to Ward (1967), fertilizing European decorative arts during the Renaissance (16th century) was in the hands of arabesque. Arabesque and other Islamic geometric patterns invade European salons, family rooms and public reception rooms.

ukiran masjid alazhar kairo
View of the courtyard of the Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo.

The Third Way gradually inspired the development of art style or fashion

The third way is the most difficult to explain. Here, the motif is not copied (imitated) or reproduced but gradually inspires the development of certain styles or modes of art. There is increasing evidence that Islamic art, and especially Arabic, is an inspiration for European Rococo and Baroque styles that were popular in Europe between the 16th and 18th centuries (Jairazbhoy, 1965). Rococo style consists of a rectangular decoration of light consisting of abstract sinuosity such as scrolls, interlace lines and arabic designs. It was developed in France in the 18th century, and then spread to Germany and Austria. This style of virus was found in the Aljaferia Palace of Islam (also known as Hudid Palace), which was built in northern Spain in the 11th century, where a number of blind arches and squinches in a style very similar to Rococo decorated his small mosque (Jairazbhoy, 1973). Another example of this early “Islamic Rococo” was found at the Great Mosque of Tlemcen, Algeria, which was built in 1136.

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Baroque architecture has also been traced back to the origin of Islam. According to some sources (eg Jairazbhoy 1965), the word “baroque” basically comes from the Arabic word burga, which means “uneven surface”, which is the source of the word barrocco in Portuguese, which means “irregularly shaped pearls”.

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Decorative arcades at Aljaferia show elements that later inspired the Baroque style.

Muslims use motifs such as arches and shells, which characterize the Baroque style, in their decorative arts as early as the 12th century. They became very popular under the rulers of Al-Murabitunin who ruled North Africa and Andalusia between 1062 and 1150.

seni islam baroque
The north entrance of the Ulu Cami Hospital (13th century) which shows a close view of the “Baroque” feature.
In addition to the above, more complicated decorative styles, which consist of a combination of multifoil arches intersecting one another like a screen net, are found at the Aljaferia Palace and in the Tlemcen mosques (1136) and Qarawiyyin, which were built in Morocco. between 1135 and 1143. Another example is the Ulu Cami Hospital in Divrighi, Turkey, completed in 1229, which shows remarkable resemblance to Baroque in ornaments and decorations, which had existed four hundred years before.