Unlike other forms of Islamic art, such as the illustrated book and inlaid metalwork, architecture is a feature of general occurrence throughout this civilization.
It has been used to provide places for communal worship, social service and stately residence. As more money and effort were invested in architecture than in other arts, it is an important indicator of social concerns.
Prominent individual patrons deliberately manipulated architecture to express their piety and power. Despite the fragile or less durable materials used and the rigors of the geography and climate (many Islamic lands lie in earthquake zones), large numbers of buildings have survived, even from the early periods, and the architectural record, whether in the buildings themselves or in such ancillary materials as books, accounts and plans, is more complete than that of any other art.
The development of Islamic architecture can be divided into seven periods of unequal length and varying importance. Most of these periods can be subdivided into regions:
· The eastern Islamic lands usually comprising Iran, Afghanistan and western Central Asia.
Mashad Mosque in Iran
- The central Islamic lands usually comprising Arabia, Iraq, greater Syria and Egypt; Anatolia and the Balkans.
The White Mosque in Syria
- The far Eastern lands, including South-east Asia and
Masjid Baiturrahman in Banda Aceh, Indonesia
- The western Islamic lands, usually comprising Spain and North Africa (Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco).
Algeria-Beni-Isguen, Minaret in Mzab Saharan style
12th Century Minaret in Kutubiyya Mosque, Marrakesh, Morocco
The extensive Islamic architecture of the Indian subcontinent is of course, the most popular region of them all. These regions are usually treated from east to west, because, apart from the formative period when Mediterranean architectural traditions played a decisive role, most of the architectural innovations that came to characterize Islamic architecture were produced or developed in the eastern Islamic lands.
The unusual importance of applied decoration in Islamic architecture merits a separate discussion. Contrary to the stereotyped picture of a desert civilization based in oases, Islamic architecture was the product of a highly urbanized society, and the urban development of its cities, the largest and most important in the medieval world, has long been the subject of study. Housing in the Islamic lands represents a conjunction of regional, local and pan-Islamic trends.
By: Siddiqua Shahnawaz
- 1) The Dictionary of Art
- 2) The Mosque