Art of Islam, Language and Meaning by Titus Burckhardt

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. fantastically illustrated in colour, this masterpiece is gifted in a revised, commemorative variation containing 285 new illustrations and a brand new advent.

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Art of Islam, Language and Meaning

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One result of this change of direction was to give the arcades separating the various naves an entirely new feeling; instead of “leading the eye” into the deep interior in the direction of the choir, they cross the oratory frontally and “bring the eye to rest”, in accordance with the essentially static and non-dynamic conception of space, in the state of equilibrium and repose that Islamic architecture expresses in all its forms. In a certain sense, the sacred architecture of Christianity reflects time in the form of space, as we have already pointed out in speaking of orientation.

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. The true Persian miniature, however, which is indis­putably the most perfect figurative art on the soil of Islam, did not come into the world until after the conquest of Iran by the Mongols, and more precisely under the rule of the Īl-Khāns (1256).

The fact that it replaced a church of St. John the Baptist—its famous relic, the Baptist’s head, is kept in the mosque—has given rise to a theory that the mosque was no more than a transformation of this church; but there is nothing to this, for there was never a church at Damascus of such vast dimensions; besides, all the component elements of the mosque are obviously in proportion. Three lines of arcades are set parallel to the rear wall, on two levels, with large lower bays and smaller paired bays above.

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