The early period

This period, directly following the death of Mohammed, saw the rapid spread of Islam and the development of the central characteristics of the art of Islam.

c. 640 - 900 C.E.

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The Qur’an and the development of Arabic scripts between the 7th and 12th centuries
The Qur’an and the development of Arabic scripts between the 7th and 12th centuries

Between the 7th and 12th centuries, Qur’an scripts shifted from being unadorned to becoming a major art form.

Samarra, a palatial city
Samarra, a palatial city

The Abbasid caliphs spared no expense to build a palatial city of grand buildings and sprawling residential complexes

Arts of the Abbasid Caliphate
Arts of the Abbasid Caliphate

From lusterware ceramics to "Kufic" script to the engagement with classical scientific literature, the artistic legacies of the Abbasid caliphate are varied.

The Mosque of Bāb al-Mardūm (the Church of Santa Cruz), Toledo
The Mosque of Bāb al-Mardūm (the Church of Santa Cruz), Toledo

The Mosque of Bāb al-Mardūm—and its conversion into a church—embodies the multi-religious reality of medieval Spain.

Paintings in the early Islamic world
Paintings in the early Islamic world

One of the widespread myths about Islamic art is that images of living creatures are banned.

The Samanid Mausoleum, Bukhara (Uzbekistan)
The Samanid Mausoleum, Bukhara (Uzbekistan)

An elaborate mausoleum was a monument of the Samanid dynasty's new, thriving capital of Bukhara—and was one of the great architectural masterpieces of Central Asia from the early tenth century.

Mosaics in the early Islamic world
Mosaics in the early Islamic world

Mosaics were highly valued throughout the first few centuries of Islam and were used alongside other precious materials as one element of elite architectural display.

The Umayyads, an introduction
The Umayyads, an introduction

The Dome of the Rock. The Great Mosque in Damascus. The Great Mosque in Córdoba. These remarkable achievements are all Umayyad.

The Great Mosque of Damascus
The Great Mosque of Damascus

Once a temple to Zeus, the Great Mosque of Damascus, has survived the Syrian Civil War, and stands as one of the world's most important historic structures.

Kairouan (from UNESCO)
Kairouan (from UNESCO)

Kairouan was an important early Islamic city in north Africa. Marble and porphyry columns flank its Great Mosque.

Folio from a Qur’an
Folio from a Qur’an

The lavish materials used for this manuscript convey both its patron’s wealth and the sacred text’s dignity.

The Great Mosque of Kairouan
The Great Mosque of Kairouan

Used for Friday prayer, this mosque stood at the center of Kairouan’s commercial, educational, and religious life.

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