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Islamic Art and Architecture pdf download

  • Book Title:
 Islamic Art And Architecture
  • Book Author:
Robert Hillenbrand
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Islamic Art and Architecture by Robert Hillenbrand


Book introduction

The author says: Any attempt to make sense of Islamic art and architecture as a whole while retaining a chronological framework runs the risk of distortion.

 Bias of several different kinds is hard to avoid. It is simply not possible to be equally well informed and equally interested in all aspects of the subject.

The need to consider in some detail the early centuries of Islamic art is made imperative by the major impact which work of this period had on later art.

But a great deal of this early art has perished, and to do justice to what survives in the context of its own time and of subsequent periods demands a closer and more detailed focus than is appropriate for the more numerous examples of later art.

Some degree of over-balance is therefore inevitable.

Certain art forms such as calligraphy or textiles continued to be produced in most parts of the Islamic world from early times, but they are not of equal significance in each area or period.

Thus the absence of a discussion of, say, Tulunid woodwork, Maghribi pottery, Timurid textiles, Spanish metalwork or Ottoman Qur’ans should not be interpreted as a signal that they did not exist, have not survived or are of peripheral interest.

 It is simply that it seemed best to reserve a discussion of certain media for those periods in which production was of the most significant scale and quality.

Similarly, the art of entire dynasties – Ghaznavid, Turcoman, the beyliks of Anatolia, the muluk al-tawa’if of medieval Spain – is virtually ignored. Such omissions are dictated by the rigorous word limit and the need to see the wood rather than the trees.

 In other words, the option of trying to say something, however little, about almost everything, and thus writing a rather bland and trivial text, was rejected.

It seemed preferable to single out key objects and monuments for relatively detailed scrutiny, in the hope that they would provide a means of entry into the school or style that produced them.

This book, then, is more a study of the peaks than of the valleys; its colours are intended to be bold and primary

A secondary aim has been to set the various schools and types of Islamic art in a reasonably full historical context so that the images are not, so to speak, trapped in limbo. Specialists will have to console themselves with the thought that this book was not written with them in mind.

It is truly no more than an introduction to a vast field.

Moreover, the very fact that a book with the all-inclusive title of Islamic Art and Architecture can be written – whereas the books on western European art in the World of Art series are of a very much more specialized kind, and are often devoted to a single school, or even artist – is a reminder that the volume of scholarship consecrated to this field is tiny in comparison with that available for European art.

 Basic guides to the territory therefore still have their function.

But it would be a serious mistake to assume from that disparity that there is any less ‘going on in Islamic than in European art. You just have to dig rather deeper for it.

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