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Unit 7

7.2 West Asia

6 min readโ€ขoctober 29, 2020

cait

Cait Levin

charly511115

Charly Castillo


AP Art Historyย ๐Ÿ–ผ

Bookmarkedย 882ย โ€ขย 34ย resources
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West Asia

Petra

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Image Courtesy of Adventure Travel. The Treasury of Petra.

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Image Courtesy of Universes in Universe. The Great Temple of Petra.

Form

  • Cut rock
  • The style of architecture was influenced by Greece and Alexandria, as evidenced by the use of Corinthian columns (columns with leaves ๐Ÿƒ carved near the capitals) and pediments (a triangular ๐Ÿ”บ top near the front of a building).

Function

  • Petra was a trading city located in present-day Jordan, which was then a part of the Nabataean Kingdom.

Content

  • In the cliffs โ›ฐ๏ธ are tombs, where the Nabataeans buried the dead.
  • On the faรงade of Petra's treasury are carvings of Greek, Egyptian, and Assyrian gods, showing the region's exposure to different religions from nearby empires and the combination of indigenous and nonnative traditions.

Context

  • Finding out when the tombs of Petra were built has been difficult for archaeologists to figure out ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™‚๏ธ, so they assume that they were created when the Nabataeans were richest, which is between the 2nd century BCE and 2nd century CE.

The Kaaba

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Image Courtesy of Khan Academy.

Form

  • Black granite covered in silk, gold, and silver

Function

  • Muslims around the world pray 5 times each day in the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia from where they currently are (qibla).
  • Muslims are expected to make the Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) once in their lifetime, and during this trip, they circumambulate (go around) the Kaaba counterclockwise ๐Ÿ”„ seven times.

Content

  • Covering the Kaaba is a layer of black cloth (the kiswah), which is covered with ornate calligraphy (decorative handwriting).
  • The Kaaba has been repaired and reconstructed ๐Ÿšง many times since the time of Muhammad (the founder of Islam).

Context

  • This building is said to have been built by Ibrahim (Abraham) and his son Ishmael.

Dome of the Rock

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Image Courtesy of Tourist Israel

Form

  • Stone and wood octagon decorated with ceramic and mosaics

Function

  • Most people believe that the Dome of the Rock was originally built to commemorate where Muhammad ascended to Heaven (miสฟraj), but it is also the place where Abraham almost sacrificed Isaac and the Temple of Jerusalem once stood.

Content

  • The building is covered in Arabic calligraphy.
  • The designs covering the Dome of the Rock are geometric (made with lines and simple shapes) and do not contain any human ๐Ÿ‘ฉ or animal ๐Ÿช forms.

Context

  • The Dome of the Rock is a significant landmark in the Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam).
  • Some believe that Abd al-Malik constructed the building so that more people would visit it, rather than making the Hajj to Mecca. His enemy Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr, who lived in Mecca, was successful at getting visitors to the holy city, and al-Malik wanted to limit his success (talk about tea โ˜•).

Great Mosque (Masjid-e Jameh)

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Image Courtesy of reibai (CC BY 2.0)

Form

  • Brick, plaster, wood, and ceramic tile
  • At the center of the building is a rectangular courtyard, which is surrounded by a two-story arcade (a structure made of arches supported by columns) and an iwan (a rectangular vaulted space that is closed on three sides and open on one) at each side.

Function

  • The purpose of a mosque is to unite the umma (Muslim community) through faith โ˜ช๏ธ
  • Because of the Great Mosque's location in the center of Isfahan, this mosque also functioned as a place for gathering.

Content

  • The muezzin (person who leads prayer) goes onto the minarets (thin, portruding columns) five times each day to call people to prayer.
  • Calligraphy ๐Ÿ–Š๏ธ, tilework, brick, and stucco motifs add decoration to the mosque.
  • The inside of the mosque is a hypostyle hall (a place with a roof that is supported by columns), similar to the Temple of Amun-Re and Hypostyle Hall from unit 2.

Context

  • Because the mosque has existed under so many different empires and dynasties, including the Il-Khanate, Timurid, Safavid, and Qajar, each group has contributed its own style to the original building.

Folio from a Qur'an

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Image Courtesy of Khan Academy

Form

  • Ink and gold on parchment (a writing surface made from animal skins).

Function

  • Because this work is so heavily decorated with an expensive material like gold, it can assumed that it was used for ceremonial purposes, rather than in the home regularly ๐Ÿ 

Content

  • This work pictures a verse from the Qur'an written in Kufic, a style of Arabic calligraphy with strong verticals and long horizontals.
  • The artist chose to use geometric motifs (patterns), rather than human or animal ones, since they are considered inappropriate in Islam when on religious works.

Context

  • Works like this were made by scribes (a person who writes documents ๐Ÿ“), who were well-respected because of their stylistic and artistic talent.

Basin (Baptistiรจre de Saint Louis)

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Image Courtesy of Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Image Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Form

  • Brass inlaid with gold and silver.

Function

  • Originally, this work was used to wash hands at official ceremonies, but was later used by the French royal family ๐Ÿคด at their baptisms.

Content

  • Pictured on the work is a series of battle scenes between the Mamluks (a group of slave soldiers, many of which converted to Islam) and the Mongols, possibly during the Mamluk-Ilkhanate Wars.

Context

  • Artists who could inlay (embed pieces of a material into a new material) were respected because it is such a difficult technique to master.

Bahram Gur Fights the Karg

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Image Courtesy of OHS APAH.

Form

  • Ink and watercolor.
  • This work looks similar to the illuminated manuscripts (books with text and decoration) of unit 3, including the Lindisfarne Gospels, Golden Haggadah, and Bible Moralisรฉe.
Can you spot any specific similarities between the appearance of Bahram Gur Fights the Karg and the European illuminated manuscripts?

Function

  • The purpose of this work was to tell the story of a fight between Bahram Gur (a king of the Sassanian Empire) and Karg (a unicorn ๐Ÿฆ„) using both illustrations and text.

Content

  • Bahram Gur is wearing clothing made from European fabric, which shows the extent that European and West Asian merchants interacted along the Silk Road. He is also has a halo around his head ๐Ÿ˜‡, which shows how exposure to Christianity by Europeans influenced art made in the Islamic world.
  • By choosing to depict this story, the artist wanted to show how Bahram Gur was an ideal king.
  • The landscape in the scene is inspired by Chinese scroll art, showing the syncretism of Chinese and Persian styles in this unit.

Context

  • This work is part of an epic poem called the Shanama (Book of Kings), which recounts the history of ancient Persia.

The Court of Gayumars

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Image Courtesy of Khan Academy

Form

  • Ink, watercolor, and gold on paper.

Function

  • The purpose of this work was to show how humans and landscape can be harmonious, which is a theme seen throughout Chinese art.
  • Unlike many of the other works from this region, it did not have a religious purpose, and we know this because animals and humans are depicted in it.

Content

  • Pictured in the work are Gayumars (the first king of Persia), who is being enthroned ๐Ÿ‘‘, his son Siyamak, grandson Hushang, and his court, who are sitting below him.
  • The angel pictured in the work is telling Gayumars that the Black Div (son of the demon Ahriman) will murder his son.

Context

  • Similar to Bahrum Gur Fights the Karg, this work is also a part of the Shanama.

The Ardabil Carpet

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Image Courtesy of Khan Academy.

Form

  • Dyed silk on wood.

Function

  • Carpets like these were sold along the Silk Road by merchants from the Islamic world. Many of them were then used to decorate buildings like mosques ๐Ÿ•Œ and shrines, since they were so highly valued and prized.

Content

  • At the center of the Ardabil Carpet is a golden medallion surrounded by sixteen pendants, which may represent the shape of a dome from inside. Two of these pendants also have mosque lamps attached to them.
  • The corners of the inner rectangle look like squinches (a support that helps attach a round dome to straight walls), which helps complete the feeling of looking ๐Ÿ‘€ into a dome.

Context

  • The carpet was named for the city of Ardabil in present-day Iran, which was a major city ๐Ÿ™๏ธ of the Safavid Empire. During the time of the Safavids, the arts, especially textiles, flourished.

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