Dating in islamic culture
Many texts have been identified that describe the hundreds of different kinds of textiles that existed.
Political and social events transformed a number of lands with a variety of earlier histories into Muslim lands.Iranian art, in particular, exhibits a number of features (certain themes such as the representation of birds or an epic tradition in painting) that owe little to its Islamic character since the 7th century.Ottoman art shares a Mediterranean tradition of architectural conception with Italy rather than with the rest of the Muslim world.Furthermore, because, for a variety of reasons to be discussed later, the Muslim world did not develop until quite late the notion of “noble” arts, the decorative arts have reflected far better the needs and ambitions of the culture as a whole.The kind of conclusion that can be reached about Islamic civilization through its visual arts thus extends far deeper than is usual in the study of an artistic tradition, and it requires a combination of archaeological, art-historical, and textual information. Among all the techniques of Islamic visual arts, the most important one was the art of clothes were also the main indicators of rank, and they were given as rewards or as souvenirs by princes, high and low.The problem is whether these uniquenesses of Islamic art, when compared with other artistic traditions, are the result of the nature of Islam or of some other factor or series of factors.
These preliminary remarks suggest at the very outset the main epistemological peculiarity of Islamic art: it consists of a large number of quite disparate traditions that, when seen all together, appear distinguishable from what surrounded them and from what preceded them through a series of stylistic and thematic characteristics.
New techniques were invented and spread throughout the Muslim world—at times even beyond its frontiers.
In dealing with Islam, therefore, it is quite incorrect to think of those techniques as the “minor” arts, for the amount and intensity of creative energies spent on the decorative arts transformed them into major artistic forms, and their significance in defining a profile of the aesthetic and visual language of Islamic peoples is far greater than in the instances of many other cultures.
In the case of this one technique, therefore, one is dealing not simply with a medium of the decorative arts but with a key medium in the definition of a given time’s taste, of its practical functions, and of the ways in which its ideas were distributed.
The more unfortunate point is that the thousands of fragments that have remained have not yet been studied in a sufficiently systematic way, and in only a handful of instances has it been possible to relate individual fragments to known texts.
The perspective is that of the lands that surround the Muslim world or of the times that preceded its formation.