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Hudson County Community College Islamic Art Didactic Function Discussion

I’m working on a art question and need a sample draft to help me learn.

1- Supposed “typical” Islamic art seeks to use mathematical patterns, extremely fine craftsmanship, floral motifs, grand architecture, and calligraphy to glorify and symbolize the grand, transcendental nature of God. Using math, patterning, minute detail and also large, beautiful structures containing all of those pieces creates a sense of awe and majesty that one could argue both creates a holy space and also creates a sense of wonder and astonishment that could be considered transformative both in terms of religiosity and in the secular sense just as grand place-making. To me, what Islamic art is saying could be written as: “Look! The divine! Impossibly complex and wonderful, beyond our reckoning and yet visible to us in small ways through our own creation and reflection of it!” I find I get the same under-the-skin feeling of awe from Islamic art that I do from reading about complex mathematics or physics, and I feel like that’s very connected, somehow, whether that was the ancient artists’ intent or not.

2- There is nothing typical about islamic art! Present day westerners are more than often filled with bias creating a skewed conception of anything “different” whilst happily ignoring the historical events that ultimately played off and affected each religion. Islamic art, both secular and religious, has a remarkable affinity with the written word, whether it is scripture or secular narrative poetry, from the angular, horizontal kufic alphabet of early Islam to intricate cursive styles established later on. Islamic art go’s beyond being “pattern-based”, because God is considered to be the center, Islamic art has taken on a distinctive character of geometric, arabesque, floral, and calligraphic patterns that express the qualities of balance and to me that is 1000 times more impressive and equally expressive than figurative representation that fulfills a didactic function could be.


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