Emily Lin: Characteristics of Islamic Art

Islamic art has some critical differences that distinguish it from Western religious art. It tends to have a much stronger connection to the divine, as it is meant to bridge the gap between the mortal and divine spheres. Because of this, Islamic art tends to be very introspective and contemplative, and places less emphasis on expressing emotion and individuality. It does, however, place emphasis on beauty, as beauty is seen as being the purest expression of the divine. Islamic art also places importance on color, as it is seen as the best representation of the interior richness of light, which in turn represents the divine unity of God. To this end, Islamic art tends use a wide variety of colors, and even mosques are decorated with colorful mosaics that are meant to reflect light throughout the mosque.

Islamic art often includes Arabic script as well. Arabic is suitable for art for several reasons, including their rhythmic nature and their conciseness. The rhythmic nature of Arabic forces the reader to follow the flow of the words in order to read them, making them art in and of themselves and a part of the piece. It is also easy to condense long, dense pieces into short, clear sentences in Arabic, making it easy to incorporate Arabic into art pieces.

The culture in which the art was produced in also has an influence on the pieces produced. Turks, for instance, tend to synthesize various forms together, which can be seen in how many notable Turkish works of art involve sculpting in some form. Persian artists tend to see the world through a more lyrical and artistic lens, and look for the meaning behind form. This can be seen in Persian miniature paintings, which often try to portray the essence of the objects and people present in them rather than trying to simply capture the forms themselves. Persian artists are also focused on the harmony present in the divine, and often are able to produce spectacular pieces of art by combining this perception of harmony with the artistic lens they see the world through. Lastly, Arabic art tends to represent the characteristics of the divine within it, but does this without much regard to its form.