The New International Encyclopædia/Mohammedan Art

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The New International Encyclopædia
Mohammedan Art
Edition of 1905. See also Islamic art on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

MOHAMMEDAN ART. The art produced by the nations and in the countries professing the religion of Islam, from the seventh century A.D. to the present time. The most flourishing period was between the ninth and fourteenth centuries, though in certain places, such as Constantinople, Cairo, and India, the golden age lasted later. The homes of this art have been mainly Syria, Persia, Egypt, North Africa, Spain, Asia Minor, India, Sicily, and Constantinople. In a large part of this region it succeeded Byzantine art, under the influence of which it long remained, while also inheriting local peculiarities of earlier Persian and Coptic (Egyptian) art. The Arabs, founders and propagators of Mohammedanism, possessed none of the arts (see Arabian Art), and consequently a period of at least two centuries passed before the amalgamation of converted peoples, after tentative efforts to adapt preceding artistic forms, created the special types of Mohammedan art. This work was done especially in Syria, Persia, and Egypt, though North Africa and Spain also contributed their share. Byzantine, Persian, and Coptic artists, even if Christians, were employed at first; but finally all the branches were practiced by Mohammedans. The religious prejudice against the reproduction of the human figure in art prevented any development in the large fields of figured sculpture and painting, forcing the artist into decorative work in pure line and color, in which he became the most consummate master in the whole history of art. Surface ornamentation became the keynote to this art, whether displayed on broad architectural surfaces or on the smallest article of furniture or decoration. This ornamentation, like the forms of architecture themselves, was at first derived from Byzantine models, as in the case of the mosques of Cordova, Damascus, Jerusalem, and the earliest Cairo work, with a large element of stiff floral patterns, many of classic origin. But gradually the invasion of purely geometrical forms almost extinguished the flora, and the system was evolved and completed in the eleventh century, which is a combination of pure geometric and arabesque designs, used with ever-increasing profusion until all surfaces were covered with it.


Commencing about A.D. 700, Mohammedan architecture runs parallel to the history of later Byzantine architecture in the East and Romanesque and Gothic in the West. We must study the origins of this architectural style in the mosques (q.v.). As the Mohammedans in the countries which they conquered found themselves surrounded by magnificent monuments of all the past civilizations of the East, it was natural that they should turn to them for the type of their mosques. The earliest mosque of any pretension was that of Amru (about A.D. 641) at Fostat, which consecrated the Arab conquest of Egypt. It served as a type for two centuries. Its colonnades around an open court seem to combine the plan of the atrium of a Christian basilica and the hypostyle hall of an Egyptian temple. The columns were taken from churches and arranged in numerous rows, surmounted by low-stilted arches, on which rested a flat, wooden ceiling. There appears to have been no æsthetic beauty and no decoration in this perfectly plain brick structure. It was in Syria, where the Ommiad caliphs had their capital at Damascus, that the first artistic monuments were erected under Abd al-Malak and his son Al-Walid, about A.D. 700. They spent immense sums on three buildings which still remain: the Mosque of Damascus (705), reputed the most sumptuous monument of the Mohammedan world, and built to surpass the works of Christian architecture in Syria; the Al-Aksa Mosque, and the Dome of the Rock, commonly called ‘Mosque of Omar’ (691), both in Jerusalem, built to rival the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The Al-Aksa was of a different type from the Egyptian mosques, and more like a hall or a Christian church. The principal side of its court, called the Jami, containing the Kiblah and pulpit (mimbar), had a forest of 280 columns in 20 rows, and in the centre, opposite the Kiblah, rose a dome. On the other hand, the great Damascus mosque was of the Egyptian type of the Mosque of Amru, the type of the atrium, and had only a triple line of columns on the Jami (main hall) side, and a single row on the others. In both mosques the columns now support pointed arches. The courts were filled with secondary monuments, usually in the shape of domed chapels or fountains. The most important of these is the Dome of the Rock in the court of the Al-Aksa Mosque. It followed the Byzantine domical type; its central dome, 112 feet high, is supported on four square piers with intermediate columns, and is surrounded by two concentric aisles with eight piers and sixteen columns, on an octagonal plan. It was erected in order to rival in splendor and sacredness the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

The next important building in the Mohammedan world is the great mosque at Cordova, the capital of the new Kingdom of Spain, founded in 786. The main hall of this mosque was the largest known, measuring 534 × 387 feet, and containing 856 columns in 19 aisles. Its wooden ceiling, notwithstanding this great length, is 30 feet high. The intricate effect of the maze of columns is increased by there being no central nave as in Christian churches and by the unique arrangement of two stories of superposed horseshoe arches. Here one sees the alternation of white and black marbles, which later became so characteristic of the Italian Tuscan school, and an early form of stiff foliated arabesque in small separate compartments. The eighth century and the following witness a flowering of Mohammedan architecture in all provinces and in all classes of buildings: fountains, baths, aqueducts, palaces, khans, bridges, caravanserais, minarets, mausoleums, monasteries and colleges, bazaars and city gates, hospitals, cloisters. A large part of the revenues of the State was devoted to public works. Bagdad was built in 762 and became the capital of the caliphate. Great buildings were erected in the cities of North Africa, in Kairwan (mosque in 837), Tunis (mosque and arsenal in 742). The wonderful buildings of Bagdad, so vividly described but now all destroyed, probably gave the keynote to the new art. The relief ornaments at Cordova were echoes from Byzantium; so were the mosaics and marbles, as well as the domes of the monuments of Damascus and Jerusalem. But gradually Persian preponderance makes itself felt through the dynasty of the Abbassides with Bagdad as centre. The wooden roof is entirely abandoned for the dome. A purely Oriental system of ornament is invented, both geometric and arabesque. The wall surfaces, which had hitherto been left plain or ornamented in Byzantine fashion, are covered with intricate stuccoes and faience tiles, inherited from ancient Persia and Babylonia.

Egypt. Egypt remained for a while outside of this movement, probably because its architecture was still in the hands of native Christian Copts; no domes were used and brick had not yet given place to stone. The most famous mosque of this age was that built by Ibn Tulun when he declared Egypt's independence (876 to 879). As Ibn Tulun objected to destroying so many Christian churches to get the 300 columns required for the new mosque, a Christian Coptic architect offered to build it without using a single column. It is the first mosque with piers in place of columns. This mosque is of the cloistered type, with two aisles on three sides and five aisles on the Jami side; formed of 160 rectangular piers supporting broad stilted pointed arches, such as the Copts had always employed. The entire construction was of burnt bricks stuccoed on both sides, the stucco being decorated with stiff arabesques in relief of the knop and flower pattern derived from ancient Oriental or Greek models. A flat wooden roof rested on the walls not far above the crown of the arches. The wall inclosing the mosque forms a court about 300 feet square. All the brilliant revetment and coloring have disappeared. Still this remains the finest example of the early type of mosque. It also has a couple of the earliest minarets, built, as were all the early ones, of brick. There is a small dome in front of the Mihrab, as in the earlier Syrian and Palestinian mosques.

Under another dynasty, another great mosque was built, the El-Azhar or University mosque, in the newly founded capital, Cairo, begun in 969. Here the same cloistered plan was used, but the churches were despoiled of columns for it, in place of using piers. When, in 996, the mosque of El-Hakim was built, however, the quadrangular pier was used as in the mosque of Tulun. But its proportions are far slenderer and higher.

It was about this time (c.1000) that Egyptian architects adopted the dome. Cairo's great characteristic is its multitude of domes. They were used mainly over funerary chapels. There now arose an important class of funerary mosques attached to royal tombs. The Egyptian rulers of the Fatimite dynasty displaced the caliphs of Bagdad as principal patrons of Mohammedan art, and the monuments of Syria, North Africa, and Sicily were inspired from Egypt during the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Undoubtedly it was the thorough study and application of geometry by Arab writers of the schools of Bagdad and Cairo that made possible not only the scientific architecture of this period, but the wonderful system of geometrical ornament that became so much a part of it. A consistent style was finally developed, which spread over the entire Mohammedan world from Spain and Morocco to Persia, and from Asia Minor to India. The minaret towers were multiplied and began to lose their early heaviness (see Minaret) and to take on great variety of forms, and, being built of stone as well as brick, they were better adapted to a richer ornamentation. The heavy walls were crowned with delicate battlements.

Most characteristic was the invention of the stalactite pendentive, on the basis of spherical polygons, as a unique constructive and decorative bond between the square plan and the circular dome. Often this transition was assisted by a polygonal dome. The historical tendency was ever to raise the domes higher and make them more pointed. Their numbers multiplied in the thirteenth and following centuries. The cemeteries of Cairo are full of ruined but beautiful mediæval domical tombs. The mausoleum mosques of Sultans Hasan, Barkuk, Kait Bey, Kalaun, El-Ghurl are the finest examples in Cairo of the domical style. The use of domes over simple sepulchral chambers had been easy, but its application to the mosque was difficult. Beginning with the tomb of Esh-Shafi'y in 1211, passing through the stage of the tomb mosque of Es-Salih in 1249, complete success was realized, under the impetus given by the Mameluke sultans in the mosque of Hasan in 1356, where the plan is a Greek cross centring about an open court, and with the domed chapel beyond the mihrab. This magnificent building was regarded as unequaled in Mohammedan lands, its proportions are grandiose; the tunnel vaults over the arms of its cross are bold. Stone and marble have definitely replaced brick. During this time, however, the type of the old cloistered mosque had been continued in buildings not connected with tombs, such as those of Bibars (1268), of En-Nasir (1318), Kusun (1329), El-Maridany (1339). The system of stalactite construction passed from pendentives to corbels, and was used to fill up gaps between all different planes. Like most of Mohammedan work, it conceals under apparent irregularity and freedom, not to say vagrant fancy, the most scientific accuracy of form. The wonderful development of decorative work at this time in mosaic, faience, wood carving, marble inlay, metal, etc., is noticed later in this article and in special articles.

Spain. Meanwhile, other Mohammedan lands had been following the example of Egypt, but with the exception of Spain their architecture has been neglected by students. The Arabo-Byzantine style of the monuments of Cordova had ruled for about two centuries; a national Mohammedan style was formed shortly before 1000, as in Egypt, as shown in monuments of Tarragona, Segovia, and especially Toledo and Seville. The cusped and horseshoe arches became very decorative. Christian influence is still shown in mosques covered entirely by domes or roofs, like churches. The famous Giralda tower at Seville belongs to this middle style, while the alcázars, or Moorish palaces, at Seville, Segovia, and Malaga usher in the style of the Alhambra at Granada. When in 1238 Granada became the capital of the Moors in Spain, its monuments expressed the development of native arts for the ensuing century. Here is found the richest extant combination of the different kinds of surface decoration in which Mohammedan art excelled, however faulty it was in composition, construction, and form. Arabesque and geometrical ornament, stucco and faïence, mosaic and marble inlay cover every inch of space, and stalactites abound as well as open-work tracery. The round horseshoe arch yields to the flat pointed, stilted, and slightly incurving arch. But though so rich, the ornament of the Alhambra, being molded, lacks the life and flexibility of the Egyptian work of the same kind, which is done by hand in the soft plaster. See Alhambra.

Persia. The Turks and Mongols made such havoc of the earlier monuments of Mohammedan Persia, the region of Bagdad and the great northern States of Bokhara and Samarkand, that nothing has survived in these regions belonging to the periods thus far mentioned. But the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, while they show a style certainly in full decadence, are interesting because we can study it in such a variety of forms in different countries. The Tatars and Turks give their version of it, adapted both from Persia, and Armenia, and Georgia, in the buildings of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries at Sivas, Kaisarieh, Konieh, Nigdeh, Nicæa, Brusa, etc. The contemporary buildings in Persia, at Tabriz, Sultanieh, Teheran, and especially Ispahan (the Meidan, mosque of Mesjid Shah, Bazar, and Medresseh of Hosein Shah), scattered over a period of about three centuries, show that Persian art was never led to abandon flowing lines for angular and geometrical designs; even its arabesques are more continuous and soft, and it hardly ever resorted to stalactite design. The form of its domes also varied essentially from those elsewhere. It is usually flat-sided and pointed on the interior and bulbous outside, built of brick, which was almost entirely used in place of stone. The minarets have the late circular shape and are exceedingly slender, being topped by small domes. Another peculiarity is the façade of various classes of buildings formed of high recessed pointed arches of the same peculiar flat-sided outline as the domes, and reminding distantly of such English screen façades as Lincoln and Peterborough.

India. At the same time Mohammedan art received a great impetus in India through the establishment of the Mogul supremacy (1526), and produced a style that was in many ways the most artistic and the grandest in the whole sphere of Mohammedan architecture. Buildings like the mosque and tomb of Mahmud at Bijapur, the mosques at Fathipur, Sikhri, Agra, and Delhi, the palace of Akbar at Allahabad, and the Taj Mahal at Agra are masterpieces. There is undoubtedly a dependence on the art of Persia in the shape of the pointed arches and domes, and in the niche façades, as well as a knowledge of the Turkish adaptation of the Saint Sophia type, but these Indian architects showed a surpassing sense of composition and effectiveness, never allowing, as the architects of Egypt and Spain so often did, the love of detail to become paramount.

Finally, when the Turks captured Constantinople (1453) they adopted the Byzantine style and specifically that of Saint Sophia, which became their chief mosque. They never knew the old type of cloistered mosque, but only great domical, fully vaulted interiors. The architects they employed were Christian Greeks. Their mosques have ever since been mere repetitions of Saint Sophia on a smaller scale. But some of them have great merit of dignity and composition and some originality in the exterior treatment; for example, the mosque of Mohammed II., which has four semi-domes grouped around the central one, but especially the Sulaimaniyyah mosque (1553). These have alternating white and black marbles in the interior voussoirs, and the simple brilliancy of the surfaces gives quite a different effect from a Byzantine interior. For details regarding special classes of buildings and the delightful domestic architecture of the Moslems, see special articles, such as Caravanserai; Fountain; Bazar; Tekiye; Minaret; Mosque.


Decoration. The sculpture of the Mohammedans was purely decorative, becoming richer as the Middle Ages advanced. In the earlier stages it partook somewhat of Byzantine design, as in the mosque of Cordova and in early Egyptian and Syrian mosques. But it was then scanty and rather heavy. When the schools became more differentiated in the eleventh century, into the Persian naturalistic, figured and floral; the Syrian schematic, animal and floral; and the Egyptian, geometric and stiff floral schools, ornament began to spread over the entire building. Even the exterior surfaces of domes and walls were covered, with a lacework cut in stone or stucco. Color was given by marble mosaics in Egypt, or in Syria and Persia by brilliantly colored tiles. The Mosque of Omar is an early, the Alhambra at Granada a mediæval, and the Mosque of Ispahan a late example. The tiles became an Oriental specialty, and were imitated in Spain until recently. See Azulejo.

Woodwork and Ivory. In no style of art has so varied an artistic use been made of wood. Where other styles have used stone and marble we find wood used, for instance, in carved ceilings, windows, pulpits, lecterns, screens, lattice-work, doors, balconies, parapets, tomb-casings. In the richest pieces ivory is sometimes used in connection with wood, being either inlaid in carved panels or being set as panels in wooden frames. Wood was used not only for the furniture of the private house, but for that of the mosque, such as cupboards, tables, and the classes of work mentioned above. Some of the best examples of floral design in Egypt are preserved in wood carvings. The most magnificent pieces are probably the pulpits, such as that of Kait Bey in South Kensington Museum, and the panels from those of Maridany, Lagin, and Kusun in the same museum. The panels of the hospital of Kalaun show a Persian style of figures and animals, rather than the floral and geometrical patterns. The reading-platform of the Mosque of Kait Bey is a fine instance of marquetry and ivory, largely in polygonal design. Ebony and ivory were often combined in mosaic-like patterns, sometimes framed in strips of metal, as in jewel cases and other boxes. But the most extensive of all the wood carvings and inlaid work were the ceilings of mosques and palaces, as in those of Kait Bey, El-Mogyed, and El-Bordeini.

Metal Work. The Persians, Syrians, and Egyptians were skillful workers in metal. Perhaps the earliest centre was in Mesopotamia, at Mosul. Brass, bronze, and copper were chiefly used. While chiseled bronze and repoussé copper seem the earliest processes, the works came to be often inlaid with silver and sometimes with gold by different processes: (1) by incrusting a thread of gold or silver into an undercut groove; (2) by inclosing a metal strip or plate between raised walls; (3) by pressing a thin leaf of metal into stipple marks. The entire metal surface was excavated according to the elaborate design, the edges undercut, the threads or plates of gold or silver inserted and burnished, and then the surfaces chased with all the details that could not be given by the general outlines. Animals, birds, human figures, hunting scenes, feasting scenes, and other genre subjects, as well as floral designs, characterize more especially the Persian and Syrian works, while arabesques and geometric patterns predominate in Egypt. Inscriptions are made almost always to contribute to the decorative effect. The Mesopotamian and Persian schools, though undoubtedly of much earlier origin, gained new life in the twelfth century, when Tatar and Turkish influence gave to artists far greater freedom in the use of the human figure. The school of Damascus was the most famous centre at the time of the Crusades, giving its name to the entire process of damascening or inlaying. The Egyptian school, with its centre at Cairo, flourished somewhat later, under the Mameluke rulers of the fourteenth century. The objects made wholly of gold and silver have almost entirely disappeared, but the inventories of the palace of the rulers of Bagdad and Cairo prove the existence of many thousands of such objects — vases, boxes, mirrors, stands, lamps, trays, coffers, figures of birds and animals, dishes, cups, flagons, bowls. Of these classes many objects still remain in the baser metals, either plain or damascened; particularly interesting are the hanging lamps, lanterns, and chandeliers, the stands and tables, mosque doors, perfume-burners, ewers, boxes (especially writing boxes), trays, and bowls, it is in the magnificent arms and armor that the metal-workers showed the supremest mastery, using all the processes, chiseling, damascening, enameling, jewel-setting to produce the masterpieces in the shape of poniards, swords, and yataghans, helmets, breastplates, and lances, stirrups, bits, and the rest of the military equipment and caparison, including, in later times, muskets, pistols, and halberds. In this special field the school of Syria (Damascus) reigned supreme, manufacturing the best pieces for the entire Mohammedan world. The Persian style was more ornate, standing midway between Syrian simplicity and Indian gorgeousness. See Indian Art.

Glass. It is in Egypt that stained-glass windows were made, rivaling on a small scale the cathedral windows of the Gothic period. Here, as in every other branch, there is originality of methods. The windows are small, forming usually an oblong of less than two by three feet. The frame is of wood and the process consists of pouring a bed of plaster into this frame, letting it set, and then cutting out the design, leaving only narrow rims or bands of plaster to hold the glass. The design is extremely elaborate, with a central motif, usually of flowers, plants, and trees; the bits of stained glass cut to fit over the openings are laid on and fastened with fresh plaster. The openings are often slanting toward the street and the plaster artistically finished on the outside. The effect on the inside is similar to mosaic. The commonest designs are: pinks, and other flowers growing from a vase; cypress with entwined flower-stem; scroll of flowers and leaves; kiosk between buds or cypresses; one or two cypresses with flowers. Earlier than these are the more purely geometric designs, as in the tomb of Bibars at Cairo. Of course the plaster is far more fragile than lead as a frame, and the windows easily disintegrate and cannot be made large. Such windows (called kamariye) are found not merely in mosques, but in the meshrabiyeh or latticed projecting windows of private houses. In harmony and quiet depth of color they surpass their more colossal Gothic counterparts.

A different kind of artistic glass is exemplified in the mosque lamps of enameled and painted glass. It is true that there is a great quantity of exquisite glass, both white and colored, showing in Persia; Syria and Egypt still carried on in the Middle Ages the old Egyptian and Phœnician industry, with exquisite understanding of forms and tones, furnishing models to Venice; but it is in the mosque lamps that the glass-workers certainly enter the domain of fine art. Here the colors are enameled on a gilt ground and the designs are similar to those of metal work, with greater prominence given to inscriptions; cobalt, red, pale green, and white are the principal enamels and the decoration is in bands with medallions. The most beautiful examples are works of the fourteenth century from the mosques of Cairo. The mellow light shining through the enamels and glass of these suspended lamps was of an exquisite effect,

Illumination of Manuscripts. The aversion to the representation of the human figure hindered the development of the art of illumination  — a branch of art not cultivated extensively until the later Middle Ages. It is true that figured compositions were not unknown either to the Egyptian or the Syrian artists, but it was the Persian school, under Tatar and Mongol influences, which first boldly attempted scenes of daily life and of history. There are many manuscripts of the Koran belonging to the other schools, whose first and last pages are a mass of geometric and floral ornament. The finest collection of Egyptian manuscripts, executed mainly for the sultans of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, is that of the Cairo Museum rescued from the mosques, such as those of Sultans Kalaun, Shaban, and Barkuk. Sometimes the flowers, arabesques, and polygons are in colors on a gold ground, sometimes in gold on a ground of plain blue or red or of shaded and grouped colors. The finest of these illuminated pages surpass anything done by Christian artists in richness, in exquisite coloring, and in fineness of execution. They are executed not on vellum, but on fine Egyptian cream-colored or reddish paper. The Syrian and Persian schools avoided the geometric ornamentation, and their floral designs were freer and more naturalistic. The Persian fondness for legend and poetry shows itself in the rich illumination of poems and stories which gave occasion for charming genre scenes and vignettes, and the artist's fancy sprinkled animals and birds in riotous confusion in a background of beautiful garden scenes.

It is in these figured illuminations alone that we can study the style of the fresco-painters of Mohammedanism, whose works have disappeared. It is plain from native writers that the caliphs of Bagdad, the rulers of Egypt and Spain, at different times lavishly patronized figure painters and that such works were not confined to the Persian school. It is interesting to note the similarity between Persian and Chinese painted design and to make the Mongols the intermediaries between the two schools. The primitive conception of composition and figure and the awkward conventionalities make the Persian school, though successful in coloring, less successful in its sphere than the purely decorative Egyptian. The most famous Persian illuminators belong to the sixteenth century, such as Fabrizi, Jehangir, Bukhari, and Bahzada, The latter's works are masterly in composition and correspond to the Italian Giottesque masters. The last great master was Mari, a naturalist from India.

Textile Fabrics. The Ear East had always been famous for its artistic stuffs, embroideries, tapestries, rugs. It was as successors to the arts of Persia and Babylon that the Mohammedans developed this branch, though Bagdad, Damascus, Cairo, and Cordova all took part and the tribes and villages rivaled with the large cities. Nothing became more characteristic of the East, nothing influenced the West more strongly, through constant importation and the contact of the Crusaders. The haute-lisse tapestry, after a method long lost in Europe, was in current use. The same difference finally appeared in the designs here as in other branches: geometrical and set patterns being more common in Egypt; free floral designs being used in Persia. The few known Persian rugs of as early a period as the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries are now valued at many thousand dollars ($10,000 to $40,000), and a study of their design shows an almost incalculable variety of native flowers naturalistically reproduced. The Syrian school had much in common with the Byzantine and, as usual, occupied a middle position, with medallions in a stiff floral ground containing heraldic animals or birds. There were in every Mohammedan country royal manufactories whose products were entirely reserved for the Court and sovereign; the standards, baldachins, tents, royal robes, hangings, housings, and rugs were all of a magnificence unknown to the ruder West and unsurpassed at any time. The known specimens date no earlier than the eleventh century and the art decayed before the sixteenth century.

Influence on Europe. Sicily, Southern Italy, Venice, and Spain were all affected by the Mohammedan arts during the Middle Ages, and even as late as the Renaissance. Hence the use of the pointed and the horseshoe arch in many parts of Southern Europe. The cosmopolitan culture of the Norman Kings of Sicily had a large Mohammedan element. The palaces of the kings — such as La Kuba, La Liza, Favara. and Baida — were imitated from those of the Eastern emirs and sultans; San Giovanni degli Eremiti seems an importation from Cairo. Mohammedan artists executed the wonderful stalactite ceiling in carved wood and probably also the geometric mosaics in the Cappella Palatina at Palermo. The famous Ruffolo Palace at Ravello, and several cloisters (e.g. at Amalfi), show the spread of Eastern architectural forms in Campania. It is interesting to see how in most cases where there are traces of Byzantine art, there are also signs of Mohammedan influence, and vice versa. This is nowhere more evident than in Venice, where both forms of Oriental art were so prominent. Here quite a flourishing school of Mohammedan metal-workers was established, existing as late as the sixteenth century, when Mahmud El-Kurdi signed some exquisite pieces. The Italian artists who imitated them called themselves workers all' agemina, ‘in the Persian style,’ and even Cellini confesses to have copied Oriental arms. In fact, the Renaissance metal-workers of the sixteenth century both in Italy and France owed more than their mediæval predecessors to Oriental design. Even more widespread and radical was the use and imitation in Europe of Oriental stuffs and fabrics, partly Byzantine, but especially Mohammedan, wonderful not merely for beauty of material, but for the figures and patterns woven or embroidered. The imported tents, baldachins, hangings, carpets, and the like, furnished the models for the European ateliers in Sicily, Rome, Venice, Belgium, and France.

Bibliography. G. Le Bon, La civilisation des Arabes (Paris, 1883), contains the most suggestive general sketch of the Mohammedan arts, with numerous illustrations; Gayet, in L'art persan (Paris, 1895) and L'art arabe (ib., 1893), describes the various arts in Mohammedan Persia and Egypt, in hand-book form. A more thorough book of the same type is Stanley Lane-Poole, The Art of the Saracens in Egypt (London, 1886). Franz-Pascha, Die Baukunst des Islam (Darmstadt, I89G), is a general historical and critical treatise on Mohammedan architecture and decorative details, with description of the different classes of buildings. For the designs and patterns used in decoration, the best text-book remains J. Bourgoin, Les arts arabes (Paris, 1868-70) and Précis de l'art arabe (ib., 1889). In Fergusson's History of Architecture (2d ed., London, 1873-76), considerable space, with not very scientiflc treatment, is given to the Mohammedan styles; see also his Indian and Eastern Architecture (London, 1876); M. von Berchem, in his “Notes d'archéologie arabe” (in various years of the Journal Asiatique), is laying a good historic basis for a historic treatment and making known new monuments. The most sumptuous illustrative plates are still for Egypt in Prissé d'Avennes, L'art arabe d'après les monuments du Caire (Paris, 1869-77), and for Persia Flandin and Coste, Monuments modernes de la Perse (ib., 1867). For Spain the first serious work was Girault de Prangly, L'architecture des Arabes et des Maures en Espagne, en Sicile et en Barbarie (ib., 1842), which should be supplemented by the Spanish Government publication, Monumentos arquitectonicos de España (Madrid, 1877 sqq.). Nothing satisfactory has been published about the monuments of Northern Africa, of Syria or Asia Minor. In fact, the whole literature of the subject is unsatisfactory. Aside from the works remaining in situ there are not many collections of the smaller works of Mohammedan art. That of the South Kensington Museum is important, as are those of Cairo, and of the Musée des Arts Decoratifs in Paris.