The Medieval World, C. 400–1300

Islamic Art

How does the religion of Islam influence art?

Like early Byzantine art, Islamic art is influenced by iconoclastic views; this means that it is forbidden to depict idols, or images of God in human form. In Islam it is also haram (forbidden) to depict the Prophet Mohammad in art, and this is often extended to include the image of any human figure and animals. Much Islamic art, therefore, is characterized by mathematically complex abstraction featuring organic, geometric, and vegetal decorative patterns known as arabesques. There are some exceptions to this: the Islamic art of Mughal India, as well as Persian art, are both known for lively narrative paintings featuring characters from stories and legends. Still, one will not find any representation of God or Mohammad in Islamic art.


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