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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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.

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.

The Great Mosque of Córdoba
The Great Mosque of Córdoba

Recycled Roman columns fill the prayer hall of this dazzling mosque, one of the oldest built in Islamic Spain.

The Dome of the Rock (Qubbat al-Sakhra)
The Dome of the Rock (Qubbat al-Sakhra)

While not a mosque, the Dome of the Rock is one of the earliest surviving buildings from the Islamic world.

Arts of the Islamic world: The early period
Arts of the Islamic world: The early period

Two powerful dynasties, the Umayyad and the Abbasid, ruled the Islamic World between the 7th and 13th centuries.

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