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Islamic art history

 This is article is part of the
Art history series.
Pre-historic art
 Arts of the ancient world
 European art history
 Islamic art history
 Arts of the Far East
 Contemporary art

From Foundation to the Umayyad

Mediums of Islamic art

Much of Islamic art throughout history has been decorative, abstract, or geometric, as opposed to the strong tradition of portrayal of humans in Christian art. The lack of portraiture in Islamic art is due to fact that early Islam forbade the painting of human beings, including the Prophet, since to do so tempts followers of the Prophet to idolatry. In recent times, especially with increased contact with Western civilization in the past two centuries, this prohibition has relaxed to the point where only the most orthodox Muslims oppose portraiture.

For this reason, Islamic art is often associated with the Arabesque style, which usually involves repeating geometrical patterns that express ideals of order and nature.

Forbidden to paint human beings and taught to revere the Koran, Islamic artists developed Arabic calligraphy into an art form. Calligraphers would (and still do) draw passages from the Koran or proverbs as art, using the flowing Arabic language to express the beauty they percieved in the words of Muhammad.

Some examples of styles of Arabic calligraphy include:

See also: Islamic architecture