Art of the Islamic World

Art of the Islamic World

The term Islamic Art not only describes art created specifically in the service of the Muslim faith but also characterizes the art and architecture historically produced in the lands ruled by Muslims, produced for Muslim patrons or created by Muslim artists. It is not only a religion but a way of life. Islam fostered the development of a distinctive culture with its own unique artistic language that is reflected in art and architecture throughout the Muslim world.

Islamic Art is an incredibly diverse field of creation and representation across a wide spectrum of eras, cultures and art forms. While Islamic Art can be difficult to scope, there are three significant characteristics that appear across a substantial spectrum of Islamic creative output. These three characteristics are floral representations, geometric designs and calligraphy. These three elements represent the main decorative forms of Islamic Art and they often overlap in their use. They are all rooted in Quranic principles that define artistic goals.

ARCH’s Islamic Collection pays tribute to this rich history and is a unique way for companies and individuals to present and gift an art piece that is both contemplative and contemporary; Art that is inspired by the Islamic faith and Islam’s artistic expression/representation/exploration.

Bismillah Frame

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The profound link between Islamic Art and the Quran lies not in the words of the Quran but in the notion of tawhid: Unity or oneness with Allah. More importantly, one achieves haqiqah – an inward vision of godly power achieved through mystical union with Allah through tawhid. Islamic calligraphy projects certain dimensions of Divine Unity into a visual order.

The purpose of calligraphy is not to impart a message through the written form but to endue writing with decorative or symbolic qualities. In executing Islamic calligraphy, the artist is concerned with how the magnificence of the divine is portrayed and how the attributes of His nature can be set out in calligraphic lines. Allah cannot be understood through man’s own senses or mind; it is only possible to see the results of His work on Earth and infer the intrinsic qualities of Him.

Bismillah means “In the name of Allah”. It is at the beginning of every chapter in the Quran. By reciting it, the believer invokes the name of Allah. Every Muslim should begin an important action by invoking “Bismillah”. The point of this calligraphy is to invoke the joy, inspiration and magnificence of contemplating Allah. Keepers of the Muslim faith will appreciate this unique Singapore heritage gift.

Kufic – Assalamaikum – “Peace Be Unto You”

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According to the Quran, the ideal way of life is “Dar as-Salam”, which can be translated as “the house of peace.” The word “Salaam”, meaning “peace” can be found in the greeting Assalamaikum, which means “Peace be upon you”. The Kufic style of calligraphy builds the word up in brick-like units. The beauty lies in the combination of a great exactitude of strokes and geometrical synthesis. Whether a staunch believer or not, this is a wonderful personalised gift for people of the Muslim faith.

Ayat Kursi Frame

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The combination of writing and curvaceous tendrils invokes the analogy of the “book of the world” and the “world-tree”. These are two motifs in Islamic esotericism. The leaves of the tree splay out but are joined to a single trunk. Likewise, the letters of the book are linked to words, words to sentences and, finally, to the unified truth of the book. This process is like the path the artist takes towards completing each piece. Ornamentation of the jug lets the calligrapher focus on the spiritual representation of the object. In this art piece, the fluid quality of the words and floral representations is balanced against the magical attributes of the jug. It is a unique heritage gift for Muslims.

Islamic Geometric Frame

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In Islam, there is a belief that humans’ relationship to the world and man’s perceptions of this relationship are not permanent, not classifiable. Language is greatly incapable of capturing these concepts.

Enter geometry. It is a language of the universe to assist the Islamic artist to reflect on life and creation. Geometric designs are popular because the complex and intricate patterns encourage spiritual contemplation.

Islamic artists fit themes from classic empires and develop them with Islamic philosophy to create a new style that emphasises unity, logic and order. Guided by the science and inventions of Islamic maththematicians, astronomers and scientists, the tools for making geometric art, like the compass, were invented by the Arabs.

In this ARCH piece, the multiplicity of polygons placed upon each other reflects the inexhaustible variety of the world as created by the Divine Unity. As the pattern on the underside interlaces, it creates multi-dimensionality. This pattern implies the impossibility of knowing reality. This creates a unique heritage gift expressing this concept. In Islamic principle, because Allah manifests Himself in infinite ways, it is impossible to have knowledge about Him.

The Kaaba

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The aniconic nature of Islamic art is elaborated in The Kaaba. The Kaaba is the very first place that defined the Islamic approach to visual art. The idea is that as a symbol of Allah’s house, Allah should not be depicted. According to the faith, it is symbolic of His spiritual presence on earth. Man should not hinge his mind on the image of Allah. Instead, the mind should be fixed on the “one true essence”. Only then is he free to achieve the tawhid.

To the modern artist, The Kaaba is simple and like a modernist sculpture. It is non-figurative and this represents an unseen reality. By maintaining the sanctity of Allah beyond all figurative depiction and objects, its preclusion anchors one’s faith. Black can represent the formless, the negative. It can also be liberating and represents the freedom of expression in Islamic Art. It is an enduring legacy and is a unique Singapore gift for a person who has just completed the Hajj.

In the Islamic world, any kind of artistic engagement is a path to finding the knowledge of Allah. It is an open and dynamic philosophy which accepts the changes in the world within the monotheistic faith. Through introspection, it produces intrinsic changes which influences art forms. This is the legacy of art in the Islamic world for the outside world.

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