chapter

Introduction

The field of Islamic art and architecture is generally considered to encompass all the visual arts produced in the Islamic lands between the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans, the steppes of Central Asia and the Sahara Desert from the early 7th century to the early 19th. The forms, techniques, and themes shared by most forms of Islamic art everywhere—such as the spatial organization of the hypostyle mosque, the use of Arabic writing for decoration and the arabesque were developed. Despite the enormous geographical reach of the Umayyad and ‘Abbasid caliphates, there is a remarkable consistency to early Islamic art, although some regional differences can already be noted in the formative period. The term “Islamic” art immediately invites comparison with comparable expressions in the history of art as “Christian” or “Buddhist” art and suggests that Islamic art is simply the art associated with the religion of Islam. The chapter also presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in this book.