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ARTS OF ISLAM AND OF AFRICA REPORT
Transcript of ARTS OF ISLAM AND OF AFRICA REPORT
- Arabic for "submission"
- arose during the early 7th century C.E. on the Arabian Peninsula
- began as an Arab faith
- is a monotheistic and Abrahamic religion articulated by the
Qur'an, a book considered by its adherents (Muslims) to be the
verbatim word of God, and by the teachings and normative
example of Muhammad who is considered by them to be the last
prophet of God.
- transformed the Arab people
- spiritual and intellectual environment
Muslims - "those who submit"
- accepted Muhammad's teachings
(c. 570 – 632)
Hijra - emigration from the city of Mecca to the city of Medina; marks the year 1 in the Islamic calendar, the beginning of a new era
- political leader
- holy book of Islam which was collected and set in order
- viewed as an act of prayer
- the revelations Muhammad recited
- commonly memorized by Islamic scholars
- was never illustrated with images of animate beings
- artists ornamented manuscripts with geometric patterns
and stylized plant forms
- copied in 1307 by Ahmad al-Suhrawardi
- the top and bottom bands of the painted frame are ornamented in gold with interlacing plant forms and a line of text in an archaic style of Arabic script called Kufic
"Bahram Gur and the Princess in the Black Pavilion"
- probrably a work of Shaykhazada
because of the style that is complex, flattened architectural setting and strong colors which is his mark
from a manuscript of Hatifi's Haft Manzar (Seven Portraits).
Architecture: Mosques and Palaces
The centrality of Qur'an led a flowering of book arts including calligraphy and illustration.
Calligraphy became the most highly regarded art in Islamic lands.
Books were the major artistic outlet for painters in Islamic culture.
The need for places to worship and palaces for rulers inspired works of monumental architecture.
The establishment of princely courts supported the production of luxury arts such as fine textiles
Western thinking about art has tended to relegate decorative art such as rugs and ceramics to "minor" status. Islamic cultures, while holding book arts in especially high esteem, have generally considered all objects produced with skill and taste to be equally deserving of praise and attention. Carpets and other textiles are an example of important facets of Islamic Art.
Mosque - from the Arabic
("place for bowing down")
Early Islamic architectures drew their inspiration from descriptions of the Prophet's house in Medina which was built of sun-dried brick around a central courtyard.
Congregational Mosque at Kairouan in Tunisia
Mihrab = qibla wall
- indicates the direction of Mecca
Little survives of the sumptuous palaces built for these rulers, for palaces were commonly destroyed or abandoned when a dynasty fell from power. A rare exception is the Alhambra, in Granada Spain. Constructed largely during the 14th century under the Nasrid dynasty, the Alhambra was a royal city of gardens, palaces, mosques, baths and quarters for artisans, all built within the protective walls of an older hilltop fortress.
Court of the Lions
The Nasrids were to be the last Islamic dynasty in Spain. Christian kings had already reclaimed most of the peninsula, and in 1492 Granada fell to Christian armies as well, ending almost 800 years of Islamic presence in western Europe.
dome before mihrab
Great Mosque at Cordoba, in Spain
by the middle of the 8th century, Islamic rule extended from Spain and Morocco in the west to the borders of India in the east
- second largest continent
- contains enormous diversity of ethnic groups,
cultures and religions
- where the Egyptian culture arose, which was
the creation of African people
Art was seldom used for decorative purposes. Rather, it was used to give life to the values, emotions and daily customs of the various ethnic groups. African art's subjects resemble a human being. Human figures are used to symbolize the living and the dead and can also be used to convey the idea of a spiritual being. It is a visual abstraction over naturalistic representation. They are made from ivory, bronze, gold, terra cotta and mostly wood which is why much of the history of these arts is lost to us because wood is a perishable material. They challenge us to expand our ideas about what art is.
The Byzantine province of Egypt was the site
of Africa's best-known early civilization.
The Nile that nourished Egypt also supported kingdoms farther to the south, in a region called Nubia. Nubia was linked by trade networks to African lands south of the Sahara, and it was through Nubia that the rich resources of Africa - ebony, ivory, gold, incense, and leopard skins flowed into Egypt.
Kingdom of Kush
- rose prominently during the 10th century B.C.E. and lasted for over 1400 years
- "Ethiopia" ; is now the Republic of Sudan
- a mixture of egyptian and indigenous cultures
- Kush kings were succeeded by their queens
Gold Ornament - came from a Kushan royal tomb, the pyramid of Queen Amanishakheto.
- difficult to subdue
- well known to the ancient Mediterranean world
- mingled with the Roman population in Africa and occasionally rose to high rank in the
- gradually converted to Islam after the Islamic conquests and Islamic Berber dynasties
held sway in Morocco, Algeria, and Spain.
- involved in the long-distance trade across Sahara that linked the Mediterranean coast
with the rest of the continent to the south
- along these ancient trade routes, Islam spread peacefully through much of West Africa
resulting in such African Islamic art
Mosque at Djenne in Mali
- named after the town in Nigeria where the first examples of its art
- most of Nok works were made between 500 B.C.E. and 200 C.E. or
around the time of ancient Greece and Rome.
- likely influenced later cultures in the region
- two of the most sustained art-producing cultures of Africa arose
some centuries later not far from the Nok region
terra cotta head, which is a fragment of a larger figure
14 and 3/14 inches
Kingdom of Benin
- began to take shape during the 13th century
- in a region of Nigeria south of the Nok sites
- continues to the present day under a dynasty of rulers that dates
back to the first century of its existence
- kings of Benin are viewed as sacred beings
- Brass altar to the Benin
- royal altars of the palace compound
- dedicated to Ovonramwen who rule toward the close of the 19th century
In 1897, British forces attacked the Benin palace and took much of the art it contained- works in brass, ivory, terra cotta and wood produced over a period of about 400 years. The art were inteded to take their place as elements in a larger, composite work of art which is the assemblage of a sacred altar.
The current dynasty of Benin rulers was founded by a prince from the Yoruba city of Ife to the northwest.
- range from sacred and secret performances before a
small group of initiates to public spectacles that verge
on secular entertainment, tough no masquerade is
onyeocha "white man"
- depicting European
The new masks demonstrate the vitality of this living art form, which easily absorbs new powers and presences into its view of the world.
Yet the masks also bring us up short by questioning the limits of our ability to "study" another culture while it "holds still".
"You do not stand in one place to watch a masquerade."
Gwan or Jo
Formed among the Bamana, who live in Mali to the southwest of the Dogon.
Art in Africa often serves as an agent in order to bring about some desired state of affairs, usually through contact with spirit powers.
minkisi (sing. nkisi "medicine")
- Kongo and neighboring people
of central Africa
minkondi (sing. nkondi)
- hunt and punish witches and
The great African art of spiritual agency, and perhaps the greatest of African arts is the masquerade. Involving sculpture, costume, music, and movement, a masquerade does not merely contact spirit powers to effect change but it brings the spirits themselves into the community.
- the guiding spirit of a Temne women's organization called Bondo
- bondo ceremony
Lustrous black mask = Temne ideal of feminine beauty and modesty
Rings aroung the base are compared to the chrysalis of a moth and also seen as ripples of water
White Scarf = empathy for the initiates under her care
meanings of Ijele:
fluid and layered
anthill (porches to
the spirit world)
a vulnerable tree
- an extraordinary spectacle
- most honored mask of the Igbo people of Nigeria
- moves with great energy, dipping, whirling, shaking, and turning
- the great tree of meaning--of life itself