Imagining Islamic Aesthetics #21 – Islamic Metalwork

For this edition of Imagining Islamic Aesthetics I would like to bring forward the topic of Islamic Metalwork.

During the Islamic Golden Age, many finest artist work in the Islamic world are crafted. From the majestic palaces, beautiful mosques to tiling decorations and masyrabias the smaller daily items such as boxes and jewelery. I would like to show you the beautiful craftsmanship of the Islamic artisans in making items out of metal.As usual, I will later on discuss regarding these artifacts in its own different topics –

Courtesy of National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid

An Astrolabe, made by Ibrahim ibn Said al-Sahli. Taken from the description of the picture Planispheric astrolabe from Al-Andalus (Islamic Iberia), made in Toledo (Spain). Author’s name and year of carrying out (459 of Hijra / 1067 AD) are shown in the Arabic inscriptions of the plates.

Back during the days, Astrolabes are sought after – it shows in some way the owners integrity and academic prowess. This is understandable giving the high level of artistic metalwork on each astrolabe.

Taken from the description of the picture Inkwell. Copper alloy with silver inlaid decoration. Second half ot the 16th century, Iran. Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Even a simple everyday item such as this becomes an artifact with its delicate and elegant artistic decorations.

Taken from the description of the picture –  Turkmen helmet, 15th century. Iron with matted, engraved and silver-inlaid decoration. Bears the hallmark of the Ottoman arsenal in Saint-Irene.

Islamic Metalwork is both beautiful and functional, showing the appreciation of the Muslims of beauty, even on something that would be worn to wars.

Taken from the description of the picture Perfume burner decorated with arcatures, found in Spain, 15th century ?. Beaten copper alloy with cut, engraved and gilded openwork decoration.

Every items of high art in the Islamic art are very delicate and made in a very elaborate way. Carved, pierced, inlaid…many techniques are used to manufacture fine beautiful artifacts such as this example.

Taken from the description of the pic This piece belongs to a group of eight plaques, each inscribed with a verse from the same shi’ite poem. It is possible that these plaques were set in the wooden doorway to a royal tomb. The striking cartouche shape is created by lobed arches formed at the horizontal ends of the rectangular panel, with smaller arches projecting from each straight border. The pious verse, inscribed in thuluth script, is set against an openwork ground of spiraling arabesque scrolls. Cut-steel panels were a specialty in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in Iran, though few survive in such good condition.

While metals may be used for smaller items such as jewelery or astrolabes, it is also used as a part of a decoration for architecture, such as this particular sample.


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