October 6, 2021

Islamic art history: the Umayyad dynasty

Islamic art history: the Umayyad dynasty
The Umayyad mosque taken by T Foz on Unsplash

Following the death of the prophet Mohammad (632), four caliphs (successors) took part in the spread of Islam. However, after the 4th caliph, Ali ibn Abi Talib, passed away in 661, Mu’awiya (governor of Syria) seized power and established the Umayyad dynasty with Damascus as its capital.

The first years following the demise of Prophet Muhammad were, obviously, developmental for the religion and its fine art since mosques and Qur’ans (holy book) were necessary to pass on the word of God. In fact, the first artistic projects focused on making beautiful ornamented mosques and writing the Qur’an in calligraphy.

The early works of Islamic art contained various elements from Sassanian, Byzantine, Syrian arts, and others. Islam was still considered to be a new religion. Therefore, Islamic art still didn’t have any defined characteristics, which led it to get inspired by other arts’ elements.

These components can be found in the earliest work from the Umayyad dynasty, the most notable of which is the Dome of the Rock. This dazzling landmark joins Coptic, Sassanian, and Byzantine components in order to create a masterpiece.

The Umayyad dynasty was able to produce some remarkable artistic pieces. However, a new phase in the development of Islamic art started after the Abbasids overthrew the Umayyad in the year 750.


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