Chapter 18Arts of Islam and Africa Islamic Architecture Book Arts/Arts of Daily Life Arts of Africa
The Religious Culture of Islam • Islam consisted of formerly Roman lands along the south shores of the Mediterranean - North Africa, Egypt, the Near East and Mesopotamia • During the early 7th century CE, the culture of Islam arose on the Arabian Peninsula • During this time it is believed that God spoke for the last time directly to humanity through the prophet Muhammad, who began then to preach • The word “Islam” is Arabic for “submission”, and submission to God.
The Religious Culture of Islam • Those who accepted Muhammad’s teachings were known as Muslims “those who submit” • The collected revelations of Muhammad make up the Qur’an (recitation), the holy book of Islam • He eventually became a political as well as a spiritual one. • Year 1 (hijira) in the Islamic calendar marks the time in 622 that Muhammad emigrated from Mecca northward to Medina • Muhammad died in 632, after which his successors led Arab armies to many victories. • By the middle of the 8th century, Islamic rule extended from Spain and Morocco (west) to borders of India (east)
The Religious Culture of Islam • Islam caused Arab peoples to unite through their faith • This cultural growth spawned growth of a new artistic culture • Works of monumental sculpture resulted, as well as book arts (calligraphy, illustration)
Islamic Architectural Vocabulary • Mosque: from Arabic masjid, place for bowing down • Arcades: Rows of arches • Minaret: Square tower • Mihrab: Empty niche • Qibla: Wall, indicating the direction of Mecca • Iwan: An entry to a royal reception hall • Muqarnas: A characteristic Islamic architectural ornament, niche-like “scoops” in entryways, etc.
Some more history… • For about a century, Islam was under Arab leadership • Afterward, Islamic lands were ruled by regional dynasties • Palaces for these rulers were commonly destroyed or abandoned when a dynasty fell • There was an Islamic presence in Western Europe for 800 years. • The Nasrids were the last Islamic dynasty in the West (Spain)
Book Arts - The Qur’an • Islamic scholars typically memorize the Qur’an • Writing out the Qur’an is considered an act of prayer • Because of this, calligraphy became the most highly regarded art in Islamic lands - calligraphers were honored much like painters and sculptors in Europe • The Qur’an was never illustrated with images of animate beings - the reason for the existing geometric patterns, stylized organic forms • Kufic: An archaic style of Arabic script • Baghdad was a major center for book production and scholarship
Page, copy of Qur’anAhmad al-Suhrawardi, calligrapherBaghdad, 130720 x 14”ink, color & gold on paper
…Princess in the Black PavilionHatifi’s Haft ManzarBukhara, 1538
Other Book Arts • Other books (unlike the Qur’an) could be illustrated with figures of people and animals • Books were a major artistic outlet for painters in Islamic culture • Great attention was paid to detail work • Example in text (1538) is very flat, with skewed perspective
Arts of Daily Life • Islamic cultures held book arts in high esteem, however ALL objects produced with skill and taste were deserving of praise and attention in this culture • Textiles, metal work, ceramic art were considered as important as other arts
Ottoman Empire • Based in Turkey, came into power in 1281 • In 1453, Ottoman armies took Constantinople, which caused the end of the Byzantine Empire • Later, Constantinople was called Istanbul • Istanbul served as the Ottoman capital until Turkey was “created” in the 20th century! • Surviving artwork suggests that Persian potters worked at the Ottoman court.
Africa and connections to Arab/Islamic cultures • Arab armies invaded Africa in the 7th century CE • Egypt at that time was Byzantine, and Africa’s best known early civilization • Egyptian culture arose in Africa, and was the creation of Africa peoples! • Kingdoms also in proximity to the Nile river included Nubia. • Other African peoples difficult for the Arab armies to subdue included the Berbers (Morocco, Algeria, Spain) • Trade also spread Islamic cultures, and it spread peacefully through much of West Africa • Africa south of the Sahara Desert was home to hundreds of cultures, each with distinctive art forms
The Arts of Africa • More than any other culture, the arts of Africa are very foreign to us (Westerners) • The arts of Africa (ancient and more contemporary) challenge our expectations of what art is, the forms it takes, why it is created, and the purpose it serves. • Much of the ancient African artifacts that exist are due to the actions of the British, who took artworks after conquering places such as the Benin palace • Many objects were NOT meant to be seen in museums in relative isolation from the context they were taken from
Great Mosque, DjenneMaliRebuilt 1907 in style of 13th century original
African Art and Abstraction • African arts are often abstracted - simplified human and other forms • Usually this means that the work does not represent specific people, but spirits or ideas • African arts also often serve as an agent in order to bring about an event, usually through spiritual contact • Power figures are known as minkisi or nkisi (singular form). • Minkondi (singular nkondi) are statues of ferocious hunters that punish witches and wrongdoers!
Gwandusu (mother and child) display figureBamana13-15th centuryWood, 48”
Other important terms • Nowo: Guiding spirit of Temne women’s organization called Bondo, which regulates female affairs. • Nowo appears accompanied by several attendants as part of a Bondo ceremony • Ijele: A “mask” of the Igbo people of Nigeria • Ijele appears at the funeral of important persons, and welcomes his spirit into the next world, and helps with the transition from this world to the next
Chapter 19Arts of East Asia India, China, Japan Buddhism and Art Hinduism and Art Jain Art
Connections with Cultures • Mesopotamia was in contact with India, where a well developed civilization existed in the Indus River Valley region • Documents from c. 2300 BCE mention Indus merchants and their valuable goods in Mesopotamia • Trade route called the Silk Road existed during the Roman Empire; Rome acquired Chinese goods (but was unaware of China’s existence) • During the Renaissance, European explorers came across Japan
Three Asian Cultures • These three Asian countries also interacted with each other • China’s major exports to Japan: writing, urban planning, administration and philosophy • India’s major export: Buddhism, which traveled to Japan via travelers and missionaries
Indus Valley Civilization • India also known as South Asia • Bordered along most of the north by the Himalaya Mountains, tallest mountain range in the world • Northwest India is bordered by the Hindu Kush range • Valley of the Indus River is now known as Pakistan • Indus River important as a water source and transportation • Cities arose along it as early as 2600 BCE, about the same time as the rise of Sumeria (Mesopotamia) • Architecture was very advanced- Mohenjo-Daro a famous Indus city
Indus Art • Indus people did not bury their dead, so little ancient art exists • Early figures have been found, small in scale, with soft/rounded bodies in contrast to the musculature in ancient Mediterranean sculpture • Style may be connected to yoga and other religious practices • Many seals carved from stone have been found • Indus writing systems have never been deciphered; images of Hindu god(s) appear • Indus culture began to disintegrate around 1900 BCE, perhaps due to changes in the Indus River
Buddhism • By 800 BCE urban centers grew again in Northern India; by 6th century BCE urban areas had developed again • Aryan religion practices became very complex. This was a priestly class, called brahims, and they grew powerful in a short period of time. • Brahim ideas about social order were very rigid. • Those disturbed by these developments sought more equality and direct access to the spiritual realm • Siddhartha Gautama - Buddha - became a religious leader • Gautama was born a prince of the Shaka clan in northern India near present day Nepal, in 563, and died between 483 and 488 BCE
Buddhist Art • Buddha means “awakened” • Buddhism revolves around the belief that time is cyclical, and that all living beings will live an endless series of lives unless release is gained from the cycle. • When Buddha died, his remains were scattered amongst eight memorial mounds called stupas • A stupa is a sold mound made of earth that is faced with stone. This face resembles a parasol that symbolically shelters and honors relics buried inside. • Pilgrims travel to be near the energy that is believed to reside in these stupas, and ritually walk around it, on structured paths
More about Buddhist Art • Yakshi: A nature spirit embodying ideas of fertility and abundance • Not Buddhist - from an older and more widespread belief and culture • The female form is considered auspicious in Indian thought • Early Buddhist art avoided depicting Buddha directly • However, by the end of the 1st century BCE, images of Buddha began to appear • Mudras: Hand gesture, that indicates preaching • Gupta period: 320-647 BCE, was the high point in Indian culture • Gupta period involved royal patronage
Great StupaSanchi, IndiaSunga and early Andhra period3rd century BCE-1st century BCE
Early Buddha images • Not representative of Buddha himself • Represented by symbolic traces of his presence, such as an empty chair, a path • According to Buddhist teachings, Buddha had no bodily form • However, by 1st century BCE Buddha was no longer considered an exemplary man, but as a god • Followers needed an image to help them focus their devotion • This also had something to do with Greece! Under Kushan rulers (a culture part of the Hellenistic world, conquered by a people of Chinese origin, who embraced the Hellensitic (Greek) culture of Bactria, a area bordered by the the mountains of Hindu Kush
Buddha preaching the first sermonSarnathc. 465-85 CESandstoneheight 5’3”
Hinduism • Gupta rulers who patronized Buddhist art were Hindu • Hinduism became the dominant religion of India • Buddhism spread to China and southeast Asia - would disappear from India • Developed as the older Vedic religion, with Brahmins and emphasis on ritual sacrifice • Has a core belief in the cyclical nature of time, creation/destruction/rebirth of the world • Ultimate goal, like Buddhism is liberation from these cycles • Hinduism is many related faiths, with separate deities