Download Art of Islam, Language and Meaning by Titus Burckhardt PDF

By Titus Burckhardt

Often called knowledgeable on Islam, Sufism, and Islamic arts & crafts, Burckhardt provides in-depth analyses of seminal examples of Islamic structure, from Spain and Morocco to Persia and India. He examines Koranic calligraphy and illumination, arabesque, carpets and rugs, Persian miniatures, and lots more and plenty extra whereas making illuminating comparisons with Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist artwork. superbly illustrated in colour, this masterpiece is gifted in a revised, commemorative version containing 285 new illustrations and a brand new creation.

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Sample text

It is not for nothing that the Arabic name for the arcade, rawq (riwāq in the plural), has become synonymous with the beautiful, graceful, and pure; a simple arcade built in harmonious proportions has the virtue of transforming space from a purely quantitative reality into a qualitative one. And it is well known that Islamic architecture developed a great variety of forms of arch, which were already apparent in Umayyad architecture and two of which are the most typical: the horseshoe arch, the most perfect expression of which is in Maghribī art, and the “keel” arch which typifies Persian art.

Khusraw sees Shīrīn Bathing in a Spring, from Niẓāmī’s Khamsah, composed for Shāh Ṭahmāsp, Tabrīz, c. , which is kept in the Paris Bibliothèque Nationale. Some of these miniatures, with a certain elegance of line, have an astrological symbolism, which is also found in the metalwork of the period and implicitly proves the existence of traditions of non-Islamic origin. In the Seljuk period, figurative themes of a Turco-Mongol character are somewhat apparent in all the minor arts, in both Iran and Iraq.

To recapitulate the question whether figurative art is prohibited or tolerated in Islam, we conclude that figurative art can perfectly well be integrated into the universe of Islam provided it does not forget its proper limits, but it will still play only a peripheral role; it will not participate directly in the spiritual economy of Islam. As for Islamic aniconism, two aspects in all are involved. On the one hand, it safeguards the primordial dignity of man, whose form, made “in the image of God”,4 shall be neither imitated nor usurped by a work of art that is necessarily limited and one-sided; on the other hand, nothing capable of becoming an “idol”, if only in a relative and quite provisional manner, must interpose between man and the invisible presence of God.

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