Art and Architecture

Art and Architecture

Mosque Architecture in Bangladesh: The Archetype and Its Changing Morphology

Abstract: Bangladesh possesses a rich early heritage involving two great religions, Hinduism and Buddhism. These two beliefs, with their political patronization, developed an architectural vocabulary expressing their spiritual desire and aspiration. Later, when Muslims invaded India, they brought a different architectural approach, evident in their secular and religious structures all over the Indian subcontinent. Muslims built mosques with the use of imported features modified by local culture, climate, tradition, materials, and technology. From that period through the present, mosques in Bangladesh have developed a unique style in terms of architecture. The notion of mosque architecture has been changing over time, according to the desires of the ruling class and the common people as well. This study presents tangible evidence of the changing morphology of mosque architecture, and identifies the influencing factors that initiated the development over the ages.

Islamization Through the Sound Arts

Just as philosophical and religious writings are a verbal expression of the ideology of a people, just as social and economic institutions are determined by that basic ideology, so also music and the sound arts are "translations" of the deepest convictions of a people. They fit into the cultural whole as pieces of a giant mosaic, each tessera reflecting the world view of that people and corresponding to the other expressions of that spirit. Fulfilling this role in the culture, the arts of sound become an important, even crucial, bulwark of a people's heritage.

Sacral Qualities of Form in Mosque Architecture: Transformation of the Arts of the Qur’an into the Arts of the Mosque

By the year 800 c.E., and within less than two centuries from the inception of Islam, a new religious and secular architecture materialized in a vast area: western Asia, all of North Africa, and southern Spain. The archeological and textual references for these projects have provided us with a wealth of physical and descriptive evidence of the emerging building types and forms of Islamic architecture. The mosque, for example, developed into a well-defined building type with characteristic physical features and spatial organization, among them the mihrab, the mimbar, calligraphic inscriptions, and surface Ornamentation, all of which are architectural elements whose designs and dispositions in the mosque space have taken on
various reoccurring patterns.

The Experience of Islamic Art on the Margins of Islam

This volume is the fifteenth publication in the Giorgio Levi Della Vida Conference Papers series, each of which contains the lecture presented by the recipient of the Giorgio Levi Della Vida Award for excellence in Islamic studies along with contributions by other scholars dedicated to a special topic. For the first time ever, in 1996 the award was presented to an art historian, Oleg Grabar, who chose “The Experience of Islamic Art on the Margins of Islam” as the theme of the fifteenth conference.

Water and Sign Magic in al-Jabin, Yemen

Abstract: The preserved heritage of al-Jabin, a town located in Yemen’s western highlands, offers a unique opportunity to document traditional water engineering principles. There are no springs in the immediate vicinity, because the town is perched at the edge of the mountain escarpment. Even today, water is provided by open cisterns that collect surface run-off following a rain. But as the rains needed to feed the system are highly unpredictable, the water supply is never secure. The perimeter wall of one of the cisterns bears a group of seven signs, a detailed description of which is given in Kitab Shams al-Ma`arif wa-Lata’if al-`Awarif, awork attributed to Ahmad ibn `Ali al-Buni (d. 1225), awell-known prolific writer on magic. Al-Buni explains that the signs symbolize God’s supreme name and thus display great magical power of a protective and well-wishing nature. Generally speaking, magical practices attempt to influence the course of natural events by calling upon a superhuman force. In the case of the cistern, God’s supreme name was inscribed in the hopes that this would lead to a guaranteed water supply. While it is easy to dismiss al-Buni’s text and the observed practice in al-Jabin as superstitious frailty, one needs to bear in mind that under life-threatening circumstances, even people in the modern West easily resort to magical procedures.

The Transformation of Islamic Art during the Sunni Revival

The Islamic world underwent profound political and religious changes in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. These changes were paralleled by one of the most significant transformations of Islamic art and architecture. What shared meaning lies at the origins of these two historical developments? How, if at all, were these paralleled transformations part of the same struggle? The Transformation of Islamic Art during the Sunni Revival takes us into this dialogue. This work consists of seven chapters, including a plethora of beautiful photographs, in which Yasser Tabbaa, a professor at the University of Michigan and a highly regarded Islamic art scholar, argues that the transformations in medieval Islamic architecture and ornament during this period reflected and embodied the conflict between the ‘Abbasid and Fatimid dynasties. It is in the struggle for political authority and religious legitimacy that new and competing forms of expression took hold.

Some Lessons from Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in Architecture: The Prophet’s Mosque in Madīnah

Abstract: This paper discusses some lessons in architecture that can be gleaned using the Prophet’s Mosque in Madīnah as a case study. The paper deals with the following main themes: the meaning and significance of Islamic architecture; function–form relationship; respect for the environment; cleanliness; comprehensive excellence; promoting just social interactions; safety; and the relationship between the indigenous and foreign influences in the spheres of Islamic architecture. Every theme discussed signifies a permanent feature of Islamic architecture which derives its strength and merit from the Prophet’s experiences. Hence, a close analogy is drawn in the paper between those architectural features and the Prophet.
Keywords: Prophet Muhammad (SAW), Madinah, the Prophetís mosque, Islamic architecture, comprehensive excellence
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