chapter  3
5 Pages

The Problem

WithBilal Badat

Yasser Tabbaa's The Transformation of Islamic Art During the Sunni Revival investigates the question of meaning in Islamic art. It examines how Islamic art and architecture changed in the medieval period and investigate how new meanings were produced during moments of profound political, theological, and cultural change. In The Transformation of Islamic Art, Tabbaa consciously positions himself against the Orientalist art historians and traditionalists. He gravitates towards the approaches adopted by Oleg Grabar and Gulru Necipoglu. Like both scholars, he investigates the historical processes by which meaning was produced in new forms of Islamic art and architecture. As Tabbaa outlines in his introduction, archaeologists, Orientalists, and art historians have adopted contrasting perspectives on the question of meaning in Islamic art. Early archaeologists generally rejected the possibility of meaning in Islamic art, subscribing to the widely held belief at the time that Islamic art and architecture was not an expression of Islamic dogma.