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Woven Tapestry Fragment, 8th century; Umayyad Period, Iran or Iraq, Wool, 12 x 18 3/4 in. (30.5 x 47.6 cm)

8th Century Woven Tapestry

This fragment of tapestry-woven cloth demonstrates the dependence of early Islamic art on traditions that predate the advent of Islam in the Middle East. Here, the influence comes from Sasanian art in Iran….

Leaf from the Shahnama (Book of Kings), 14th century; Ilkhanid Firdausi, Author Iraq or Iran Ink, colors, and gold on paper

Leaf from the Shahnama (Book of Kings)

The legendary death of the Sasanian king Yazdegerd I—who was said to have been kicked by a horse that magically emerged from a spring—is charmingly depicted in this leaf from a dispersed manuscript…

Rosette (shamsa) bearing the name and titles of Emperor Shah Jahan (r. 1628–58), Mughal, 17th century Attributed to India Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper

Rosette (shamsa)

This shamsa is an exquisite example of the art of illumination in the Mughal period. The profusion and gem-like detail of the floral decoration of the rosette, set along scrolling vines, can be…

Vegetal Patterns in Islamic Art

With the exception of the garden and its usual reference to paradise, vegetal motifs and patterns in Islamic art are largely devoid of symbolic meaning. Vegetal patterns employed alone or in combination with…

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Light as Decorative Medium

  The Muslims and their buildings favor light, both symbolically and factually, also because there is nothing simpler, plainer and clearer than the truth. Moreover, there is no better secret to a happy…

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Paper and Ink Prayer Mat

Made to fit the size of an actual Muslim prayer carpet, this piece is drawn only with black Bic pencils. Painstakingly detailed, it explores different ways and patterns to create a unique whole…

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Carpets from the Islamic World

Under the Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal dynasties, carpet weaving was transformed from a minor craft based on patterns passed down from generation to generation into a statewide industry with patterns created in court…

Qur'an case, Nasrid period (1232–1492), second half of 15th century. Spain

Qur’an case, Nasrid period (1232–1492)

Qur’an case, Nasrid period (1232–1492), second half of 15th century. Spain This small Qur’an case, a quintessential devotional and amuletic object, is inscribed with the Nasrid dynastic emblem: “There is no conqueror but…

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Amulets and Talismans from the Islamic World

A talisman is any object that is imbued with protective powers, and all cultures have manifestations of such objects. In the world of Islam, they bear Qur’anic inscriptions, astrological signs, and religious narratives….

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The Nature of Islamic Art

The term Islamic art not only describes the art created specifically in the service of the Muslim faith (for example, a mosque and its furnishings) but also characterizes the art and architecture historically…

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Sheikh Zayed Mosque – Abu Dhabi

The mosque is named after Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nayhan, the late ruler and founder of the United Arab Emirates, and is a building of extraordinary dimensions: it is the third largest…

Doris Dukes Shangri La – Center for Islamic Arts and Culture

The collection at Shangri La consists of about 3,500 objects, within which are several distinct sub-collections that shed light on Islam, Islamic cultures and Islamic art, among other traditions. Below are links to…

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