We have discussed about the Islamic Art and Architecture in the reign of the Ummayad Caliphate before (click here if you want to reread the article) and for this edition of Imagining Islamic Aesthetics I would like to focus to this topic again, but only regarding the architectural aspect of the said period.
The Umayyad Caliphate (Banu Ummayah, arabic – بنو أمية ) is the second caliphate to rule the Islamic civilization after the Rashidun Caliphate who ruled the growing Islamic empire after the prophet of Islam, Muhammad. During this time, Islam and specifically talking in this article, its art and architecture, is still in its early stage, still assimilating foreign cultures and aesthetics and amalgamating them into their own, albeit still heavily influenced and not unique. Influences include the Roman, Byzantine and Sassanid arts.
Islamic art at this period does not develop extensively, but there are lots of Islamic architectural wonders built during the Ummayad Caliphate, some of which still stands today.
Interior of the Al Aqsa mosque on Haram al Sharif (Temple Mount) in Jerusalem. The Al-Aqsa mosque, as well as another shrine next to it, refer below, was built during the Ummayyad Caliphate. Both exhibits influences of Roman and Byzantine architectural styles. Gold coloured mosaics, as seen on the wall above the central arches are employed here, as well as roman columns.
The Dome of the Rock on the Haram As-Sharif in Jerusalem. This building stood next to the Al-Aqsa Mosque (Unseen in the picture) and both are built during the reign of the Ummayad Caliphate. The shape of the shrine was influenced by Byzantine Martyriums and the dome is copied after the christian churches in the area for example, the dome of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, not far from the Haram As-Sharif site.
Detail of the palace facade of Mashatta, kept at the Pergamonmuseum in Berlin. Very little remained of the Mshatta Palace, but fragments of its facade. It can be noted here that the art of the facade borrows heavily from the Persian civilization, perhaps from the Sassanid culture. The vegetal motifs and the zoomorphic figures are influences from the Persian empire, as well as the pattern and geometrical shapes.
The Facade of the Ummayad Mosque in Damascus, Syria. One of the best example of the Ummayad Architecture, it features clear influences from other cultures. The Mosque itself was a former Christian church (the Shrine where the severed head of John the Baptist, known as Yahya in Islam, is inside) it was also built on top of a former Pagan temple. The building utilizes the Arab Plan, the floorplan that uses copious amount of pillars, and the facade features gold coloured mosaics that shows influences of Byzantine Empire.
The dome in Qasr Amra in Jordan. The Muslim artisans and architects were still learning at that time, so most buildings, especially palaces and other secular buildings were experimental. Here you can see the primitive form of the decorative Muqarnas, as well as execution of domes. The Qasr Amra also features figural drawings and murals that is very similar to Greco-Roman period style of painting.