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Flashcards in Islamic Questions Deck (41):

What are the Five Pillars of Islam?

The Islamic guidelines for having a direct and personal relationship with god.
1) Shahadah: there is one god and Muhammad is the prophet
2) Salat: prayer required 5 times a day, facing Mecca
3) Zakah: giving to charity
4) Sawn: observance of Ramadan
5) Hajj: at least one pilgrimage to Mecca


What specific building served as a model for the design of later mosque structures?

Mosques get a lot of their design inspiration from the Hagia Sophia, the famous (originally Justinian) basilica from Constantinople. It’s central onion-shaped dome, the later added minarets, and the uplifted arches are a few elements that occurred in Islamic architecture after the Hagia Sophia, which in 1453 did become a mosque itself.


Why is Calligraphy such a pervasive form of Islamic culture?

Because Islamic art is aniconic, where symbolic representation doesn’t include human figures, calligraphy became a spiritual art form found in architecture, textiles, and other wares. Different types of islamic calligraphy include kufic, nashki, and tugra. They all are visually pleasing due to their mix of horizontal and vertical elements. Scriptors were highly regarded because of their calligraphic abilities. Certain holy texts found structures such as inside the Dome of the Rock are laid in gold and meant for all to read. Calligraphy not only served as a way to convey religious messages, but characterized islamic art as well.


What is the meaning of the garden in Islamic architecture, and what specific form is this garden given at the Alhambra?

In Granada, Spain, where the Alhambra resides, ample water supply made it the city of gardens. The Alhambra captures gardens in its courtyards as to represent the bounty of life given by Allah. The Court of Lions depicts the power and strength of the Lion in a peaceful and beautiful way. Miradors overlook the gardens, as to give women the opportunity to enjoy their beauty without having to break the confines of their domestic lifestyles. Gardens and nature are very prominent in islamic art. Vegetation designs adorn architecture.


What are the distinctive characteristics of the Ottoman central plan mosque design, as represented in the Selimiye Cami at Edirne?

Centrally-planned mosques were influenced by Byzantine church plans (ex: Hagia Sophia). The inside contains a large domed space uninterrupted by structural supports. Worship is directed twoard a qibla wall and mihrab opposite the entrance.


Discuss how geometric, botanical and calligraphic motifs are combined in the design of the Koran frontispiece from 14th century Mamluk Egypt. What other examples of Islamic art reveal similar combinations?

The ornament within the frontispiece follows strict geometric organization. The design contains a sixteen-pointed starburst that fills the central square. Interlacing foliage and stylized flowers are in ovals and medallions surrounding the square. The page was purposely designed to resemble a court carpet.


Describe The Kaaba

-cubical form draped with black textile embroidered with few Qur'anic verses in gold
-shrine said to have been built for God by Abraham


When was the Umayyad dynasty?



Describe Dome of the Rock

Haram al-Sharif ("Noble Sanctuary")
-rocky outcrop that Muslims believe Muhammad ascended to presence of God on Night Journey
-imitates central plan. crowned with golden dome and decorated with opulent marble veneer and mosaics inside.
-dome surmounting octagonal drum with windows and supported by arcades of alternating piers and columns cover central space
-arcades create ambulatories that permit visitors to walk around the rock
-inscriptions from Qur'an form frieze around inner wall and are oldest surviving written text
-below frieze are walls covered with pale marble, veining of which creates abstract symmetrical patterns and columns with shafts of grey marble and gilded capitals
-above frieze is another mosaic of symmetrical vine scrolls and trees embellished with imitation jewels over gold ground


Describe Plan of The Palace at Mshatta, Jordan

-square, stone walled complex
-outer walls and gates guarded by towers and bastions reminiscent of Roman fort
-inside around large central court was mosque, domed audience hall, and private apartments


Describe Frieze, Detail of Facade of the Palace at Mshatta

-frieze extended in band about 16 feet high above base
-divided by zigzag molding into triangular compartments, each punctuated by large rosette carved in high relief
-compartments filled with intricate carvings in low relief that included interlacing scrolls inhabited by birds and other animals, urns, and candlesticks
-beneath ONE of the rosettes, two facing lions drink at urn from which Tree of Life grows
-where frieze runs across outer wall of mosque, animal and bird imagery is gone


Describe Four-Iwan Mosque Plan

Iwans faced each other across central courtyard; inner facade of this courtyard was thus given cross-axial emphasis, height, and greater monumentality


Descrobe Hypostyle Mosque Plan

Columnar hypostyle halls. Basically.


Describe Centrally-planned Mosque

Strongly influenced Byzantine Church plans. Interiors are dominated by large domed space uninterrupted by structural supports.
-worship is direct toward qibla wall and mihrab opposite entrance


Describe The Great Mosque at Kairouan

836-875, Kairouan, Tunisia
-large rectangular plan divided between courtyard and flat-roofed hypostyle prayer hall oriented towards Mecca
-minaret rises from one end of courtyard and stands as powerful sign of Islam's presence in city
-qibla wall given more importantce by raised roof. dome over mihrab, and aisle that marks axis that extends from mihrab to minaret


Describe Great Mosque at Cordoba

785-786, Cordoba, Spain
-repeated columns and double flying arches is colorful and dramatic
-columns and capitals in prayer hall were recycled from Christian church, double-tiered arches
-alternating white stone and red brick voussoirs


Describe the two-tiered arches

Two tiers of arches, one over the other, surmount columns
-upper tier springs from prectangular posts that rise from columns
-effectively increases height of and interior space and provides excellent air circulation as well as sense of monumentality and awe


Describe Dome in front of the Mihrab, Great Mosque

-Abd ak-Rahman commissioned costly renovations such as new mihrab with 3 bays in front of it
-melon-shaped, ribbed dome over central bay seems to float upon web of criss-crossing arches
-complexity of the design reflects Islamic interest in mathematics and geometry, not purely as abstract concepts, but as sources for inspiration
-lushly patterned mosaics with inscriptions, geometric motifs, and stylized vegetation clothe both this dome and mihrab below in brilliant color and gold


Describe Page from the Qur'an

9th c., Syria, Kufic script, black ink pigments and gold on vellum
-large Kufic letters and 3-5 lines per page with horizontal orientation because visual clarity needed for multiple readers
-red diacritical marks (pronunciation guides) accent dark brown ink
-surah (chapter) title is embedded in burnished ornament at bottom of sheet
-instead of page numbers, brilliant gold of framed words and knoblike projection are means of marking chapter breaks


Describe Arabic Manuscript Page

1199, Iraq
-headings in ornamental Kufic with background of scrolling vines, while text is written horizontally and vertically in Nashki script


Describe Bowl with Kufic Border

9th-10thc., Samarkand, Uzbekistan, earthenware with slip, pigment, and lead glaze
-Samarkand ware, characterized by use of clear slip-painted ground
-script's horizontals and verticals have been elongated to fill the bowl's rim
-inscription "knowledge: the beginning of it is bitter to taste, but the end is sweeter than honey"


Describe Textile with Elephants and Camels

Before 961, dyed silk, (Shroud of Saint Josse)
-Kufic inscription: "Glory and happiness to the Commander Abu Mansur Bukhtakin. May God prolong his prosperity"
-generic blessings on ordinary goods sold in marketplace or personalized for patron
-two elephants with rich ornamental coverings face each other on dark, red ground each with griffin beneath feet
-caravan of two-jumped camels linked with rope moves up left side


Describe Mamluk Glass Oil Lamp

1355, syria or egpyt, glass, polychrome enamel, and gold
-originally suspended from chains attached to its handles
-blue, red, and white enamel and gilding cover the surface of lamp in vertical bands that include swirling vegetal designs and cursive inscriptions interrupted by roundels containing iconic emblems
-inscription on flared neck is Qua'anic quotation


Describe Courtyard of Masjid-I Jami, Isfahan

11th-18thc, Iran. 14thc, iwan vault, 17thc, minarets
"Congregational Mosque"
-two great brick domes added.
-massive qibla iwan has vault filled muqarnas
-twin minarets and facade of brilliant blue, glazed tile wraps around the entire courtyard


Describe Tile Mosaic Mihrab

Madrasa Imami, Isfahan, Iran. 1354, glazed and cut tiles
-more than 11ft tall, made by cutting each individual piece of tile, including pieces making up letters on curving surface of niche
-color scheme, white against turquoise and cobalt blue with accents of dark yellow and green, was typical as well as the harmonious, dense, contrasting patterns of organic and geometric forms
-cursive inscription of outer frame quotes Qur'an reminding faithful of their duties. rendered in elegant white lettering on blue ground, while Kufic inscription bordering pointed arch reverses these colors for contrast


Describe Madrasa-Mausoleum-Mosque in Cairo

-four-iwan plan, each iwan served as classroom for different branch of study, students housed in multistoried cluster of tiny rooms around each one
-standing just beyond qibla iwan, patron's monumental domed tomb attached identity to architectural complex
-walls are ornamented with colorful marble paneling that culminates in doubly recessed mihrab framed by slightly pointed arches on columns
-marble blocks of arches joined in interlocking pieces of alternating colors are called joggled voussoirs
-paneling surmounted by wide band of Kufic inscription in stucco set against background of scrolling vines
-next to mihrab stands elaborate thronelike minbar


Describe Court of the Lions at Alhambra

Grenada, Spain. 1354-1391
-represented epitome of luxury
-small town extending for about half mile with government buildings, royal residencies, gates, mosques, baths, servants' quarters, barracks, stables, mint, workshops, and gardens
-sophisticated citadel whose buildings offered dramatic views to settled valley and mountains
-Court of Lions divided evenly into 4 equal parts by cross-axial walkways that meet at central marble fountain held aloft on backs of 12 stone lions. garden divided into quadrants called chahar bagh
-courtyard encircled by arcade of stucco arches supported on single columns or clusters of two and tree
-2nd floor miradors look over courtyard


Describe Muqarnas Dome, Hall of the Abencerrajes, Palace of the Lions at Alhambra

-south side of Court of the Lions
-designed as winter reception hall and music room, has excellent acoustics
-ceiling exhibits dazzling geometrical complexity and exquisitely carved stucco
-star-shaped vault formed by honeycomb of clustered muqarnas arches pierced by 18 windows, that culminates in burst of muqarnas floating high overhead


Describe Griffin

11thc, Egypt, bronze
-unusually large and stylized griffin
-may have arrived as booty from Pisan victories over Egyptian fleets
-decorated with incised representations of feathers, scales, and silk trappings
-decoration high thighs includes animals in medallions
-bands across its chest and back are embellished with Kufic lettering and scale and circle patterns


Describe Pen Box

1210-1211, made by Shazi (signed), brass with inlaid silver, copper, and black organic material, Iran
-inscriptions include about 20 honorific phrases extolling owner
-belong to grand vizier, chief minister, of Khurasan
-artist cast, engraved, embossed, and inlaid box with consummate skill
-scrolls, interlacing designs, and human and animal figures enliven its calligraphic inscriptions


Describe The Macy Jug

125-1216, Iran, composite body glazed, painted fritware and incised (glass partially stained with cobalt), with pierced outer shell
-double-shell fritware, inner solid body is hidden beneath densely decorated and perforated outer shell
-black underglaze-painted decoration represents animals and pairs of harpies and sphinxes set into elaborate "water weed" pattern
-outer shell is covered with turquoise glaze, enhanced by deep cobalt-blue glaze on parts of floral decoration and finally luster overglaze to give metallic sheen


Describe technique to make lusterware

potters applied paint laced with silver, copper, or gold oxides to surface of already fired and glazed tiles or vessels. In second firing with relatively low heat and less oxygen, oxides burned away to produce reflective shine and resembled precious metal


What was fritware?

-used to make beads in Egypt and possibly rediscovered by Islamic potters
-one part white clay, 10 parts quartz fused with soda, which produced brittle white ware when fired
-colors on double-walled ewer produced by applying mineral glazes over black painted detailing


Describe Banner of Las Navas de Tolosa

1212-1250, Spain, silk tapestry-weave with gilt parchment
-8 pointed star forms center of banner
-calligraphic panels continue down sides and second panel crosses top
-8 lobes with gold crescents and white inscribed parchment medallions form lower edge of banner


Describe Medallion Rug, Variant Star Ushak Style

16thc, Anatolia, Wool
-large, deeply serrated quatrefoil medallions establish underlying star pattern but arabesques flow in every direction
-infinite arabesque is characteristic of Ushak carpets


Describe Qur'an Frontispiece (Right Half)

1368, Egypt, Ink, pigments, and gold on paper
-intricate nonfigural geometric designs radiating from 16 point starburst, filling central square
-surrounding ovals and medallions are filled with interlacing foliage and stylized flowers that provide backdrop for scripture
-resemblance to court carpets not coincidental because designers often worked in more than one medium


Describe The Caliph Harun Al-Rashid Visits the Turkish Bath

1494, 12thc. Khamsa of Nizami, ink and pigments on paper
-scene of complex, stagelike architectural pieces creating visual balance between activity and architecture
-tiled entrance leading to high-ceiling dressing room with brick walls, provides structuring element
-attendants wash long, blue towels and hang them to dry on overhead clotheslines
-worker reaches for one of the towels with long pole, and client prepares to wrap himself in towel before removing outer garments
-blue door on left leads to room where barber grooms caliph while attendants bring water for his bath
-asymmetrical composition depends on balanced placement of colors and architectural ornaments within each section


Describe Shirin Sees Khusrau's Portrait

1442, 12thc. Khamsa of Nizami. Herat, Afghanistan. ink, pigments, and gold on paper
-romantic scene in landscape setting
-gold-crowned princess Shirin falls in love when she sees portrait of Khusray hanging in tree.
-shown in moment of discovery while one of her dismayed attendants grabs her cloak as if to hold her back from destiny
-background consists of ochre-colored arid landscape that rises to two ranges of hills from which emerge two trees
-almost hidden on left is Shapur, painter of Khusrau's portrait and his friend observing scene
-foreground, rock bordered stream (silvery surface now grey) winds its way through meadow of flowers and a tree
-overhead, cloud seems to reflect agitation in her heart


Describe Mosque of Sultan Selim, Edirne

1568-1575, Turkey
-minarets located around prayer hall of mosque with their sleek, fluted walls and needle-nosed spires
-only royal mosques could have multiple minarets
-gigantic, hemispheric dome is larger than Hagia Sophia's and crowns building of extraordinary architectural coherence
-transition from square base to central dome is accomplished by corner half-domes that enhance spatial plasticity and openness of vast interior of prayer hall
-8 massive piers bear dome's weight are both visible within and without - on exterior they resolve in pointed towers that encircle the main dome-revealing structural logic of building and clarifying its form
-in arches that support dome and span from one pier to the next, light pours from windows into interior
-complex housed a madrasa
-centrally planned and small fountain covered by platform emphasizes this centralization


Describe Illuminated Tugra of Sultan Suleyman

1555-1560, Turkey, ink, paint, and gold in paper
-sweeping, fluid line with perfect control according to set proportions
-color scheme of delicate floral interlace enclosed in body may have been inspired by Chinese blue-and-white ceramics


Describe Hasan Fathy Mosque at New Gourna

1945-1947, Luxor, Egypt. Gouache on paper
-model of environmental sustainability realized in pure geometric forms that resonated with references to Egypt's architectural past
-simple and beautiful