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ISLAMIC PAINTINGS: Medieval Islamic life and culture through paintings


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Heba E. Husseyn
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« on: October 04, 2013, 05:36:52 am »

A collection of oil and water paintings portraying the Muslim society between 11th and 16th centuries in Egypt, Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Persia.

The Red Sea had already emerged as an important corridor for trade between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean. Mecca and Medina at the time of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) were important cities at the intersection of trade networks, pilgrimage routes, and migrations of local tribes.

Items with a rich and lucrative trade history were silk, spices, condiments, natural herbs, coffee, carpets, rugs, handicrafts and embroidered quilts. Special light, handmade rugs, unmatchable in quality, were also used as table covers. Textile weaving industry in the Arab world and Turkey in the mid 2nd millennium focused on making carpets, kilims, wall hangings and coverings.

Fabric weaving was also a textile art that had been practiced for centuries in the Arab world, Turkey, Persia and South-west Asia, now Pakistan. Fabric represents the arts of embroidery, hand-painting and blocking printing, pieces of which are preserved in museums and private collections around the Arab world .. though many have been destroyed during wars and invasions to-date. Some of the most spectacular embroidered works came from Kashmir.

The Ottoman Empire was strategically located on the path of the silk route bridging the silk trade between Asia, Middle-East and Europe. Silk transported by caravans from Arab lands, Persia and South-West Asia passed through Anatolia and Bursa in Turkey where Europeans, mostly Italians, Spanish and Greeks purchased the goods. Silk began being produced in the Muslim world between the 15th and 16th centuries. But the local demand was higher than the supply and the region also relied on imported silk from China.

Spending time chatting in coffee houses in the company of story-tellers was one of the most popular evening pastimes. Another favorite venue to relax in Turkey and adjoining countries like Syria and Iraq were the Turkish Hamams or Baths - separate ones for men and women of course. Ottoman women often used henna on their hair and henna patterns on the skin. Mixed henna would be carried in bowls by the accompanying female servants to the bath. Other servants carried fruit drinks, clean clothing, towels, combs, cosmetics, mirrors, towels and even pillows.

Flower sellers brought flowers for the ladies at their doorsteps. Weavers often came and wove cotton, silk, flannel and other materials in the courtyard of homes. Ladies from middle-class homes stepped out to shop or for recreation in groups on foot. Ladies from wealthy homes would be accompanied by their attendants or slaves.

Surprisingly enough, as concealed by modern muftis, Muslims up to the 1800s or beyond were very fond of pets, mainly dogs and cats. Dogs are often seen in antique paintings accompanying the women and children in their outdoor errands as escorts.

Neighborhoods were peaceful. An evening out to relax in the simplest and most inexpensive way often meant stepping out of your humble home, sitting on neighborhood benches in groups and chatting over the day's events.

Call for prayer (adhan) was heard regularly five times a day. Every neighborhood had at least one mosque. Adhan was made from the minarets .. no loud speakers. Offering Maghrib and Isha congregational prayers on the roof tops of mosques felt pleasant during the warm summer months.

Travelers and desert travelers (usually traders in small groups or caravans) were commonly seen who stopped at small motels overnight or for short breaks. Caravans also broke their journeys in the middle of the desert for offering prayers at prayer times. Caravans traveling to Mecca for Hajj (pilgrimage) were particularly large.

Horses, camels and donkeys were precious possessions and costly too .. similar to owning cars or motor bikes today. Animals used for transport had to be fed and well looked after, properly groomed and healthy.

Scholars, learned ones and academics sat on carpets placing their books and writing papers on flat wooden boards approximately 1ft x 1ft. The Noble Quran was read by placing it on stands called "rihal" about a foot high from the carpet.

Enjoy the mesmerizing paintings at MV in Pinterest .... a stroll down that serene time tunnel some centuries ago.

Below are a few selected ones.


Choosing a carpet. Those perfect good ol days! A carpet merchant and his helper bring their goods at the lady's house while she decides & selects at leisure. Mid 1800s. Art Francesco Ballesio, oil on canvas.



Two young women working on a piece of embroidery; behind them is an exquisite stain glass window. Ottoman era. Simple middle-class home. Art Kamil Aslinger.



The wise man and the trader. Art Stanislav Plutenko medieval depiction of Muslim world approximately 1700s or 1800s latest.



A bazar in Cairo.  In the days before electricity, bazars would be lit up by small openings on the roofs as seen here. Era could be any time between 1600s and 1800s.



This is what a kasbah neighborhood in Algeria looked like in the 1600s (Ottoman rule).



Istanbul Ottoman era - exterior of a middle-class home.

Enjoy the complete collection of paintings of Medieval Islamic Era - The Golden Age at MV PINTEREST.   You will truly enjoy this experience, helping you to learn Islamic History by viewing the pictures and reading the brief caption of every image.



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Zeynab
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« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2013, 10:56:27 pm »

Gosh!  Isn't this gorgeous?!  How I wish I was born around this era instead of this rotten "modern" age full of greed, competition for money, sycophancy, crimes and brainwashing through what they call 'media.'

The writeup is also very, very interesting and informative.  There are more similar beautiful arts in Arab Art Gallery website but they only sell, so the art displayed have watermarks that largely hide its beauty. 

Btw, here is one more I saw quite sometime ago - a painting (looks water color) of Turkish moonlight.  The color effects are breathtaking, and represents the very serene Islamic environment back then .. opposite of a Turkish moonlight today with that country becoming the citadel for training of al-Nusra thugs. 



Thank you sister Heba, many thanks for your efforts and time.  Excellent share!
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Heba E. Husseyn
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« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2013, 12:16:39 am »

You're welcomed sis Smiley

And wow!  this moonlight art of 16th century Turkey is mesmerizing.  Just too gorgeous.  Such serenity will never return to the Ummah again.  What's gone is gone and they only have themselves to blame for it. 
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N. Truth Seeker
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« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2013, 06:28:42 am »

MashAllah, excellent post.  The writing is truly educational.  But the art speaks articulately enough. 

MV Pinterest board on this topic is dazzling!

You're right sister zeynab.  Arab Art Gallery has some wonderful canvas paintings.  But they're for purchase and the watermark puts a patch on them. 
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« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2013, 02:47:24 am »

Breathtaking!   The entire collection speaks volumes and gives a clear idea of Islamic social life even to beginners.  With that very informative writeup, it's one of the best pieces for so many out there who want to know about medieval Islamic society.
 

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« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2013, 05:10:32 am »

I love this one too, Islamic Spain



This is Granada, Muslim Spain.  Source Fine Art America.





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« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2013, 05:23:48 am »

MashAllah, love it.  Set of awesome paintings .. such beautiful days and times, tranquil and serene when everyone had their peace of mind.  A startling contrast from the horrible modern era.
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« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2013, 08:27:27 am »

Yeah sis, real contrast.  I so much wish I lived at that time instead of now.  Life back then was so peaceful and full of contentment.  Compared to that, it's a mad rat-race now.
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