No Activity for another two weeks…!

Dear readers,

I am truly sorry for the lack of activities this week, the reason because I am having a two week holiday from my work and hence, a break from the world of blogging…I am posting this short message from my hotel room, just to let you know if you are wondering where I am, what with my absence. I will (hopefully) resume the blogging by the end of November (or if I am very lazy, early December) so please check back for new content by that time.

Well, I’m off now to my tropical holiday (as if Brunei isn’t tropical enough) and I’ll see you soon!


Imagining Islamic Aesthetics #33 – Mughal Miniatures

For this post of Imagining Islamic Aesthetics I would like to put forward the subject of Mughal Miniatures. I had focused on the subject of Islamic Miniatures before, but I would like to specify for this post the Islamic, Mughal paintings.

Influenced by Jain, Hindu, and Buddhist culture and art, Mughal miniature developed during the Mughal empire between the 16th and 19th century, it is a style of painting in South Asia generally used in smaller artworks such as miniatures or single paintings for a small collection or albums. Notable examples include biographies of emperors such as the Akbarnama, illustrated biography of the third Mughal empire Akbar and other types of literary works such as the Ragamala, or the Garland of Ragas, a series of illustrations of Indian musical nodes, Indian Ragas, and the 14th Century Iranian tales Tutinama (Tales of the Parrot).

One of the illustrations in the Akbarnama. This particular page depicts Akbar’s adventure with the elephant Hawa’i, on Yamuna River, outside the fort of Agra, in 1561.

A Market Scene, at Kand-i Badam, Weighing and Transport of Almond. This particular illustration is taken from the Baburnama, literally the book or letters of Babur, the memoirs of the founder of the Mughal empire Zāhir ud-Dīn Mohammad Bābur.

Ragamala illustration for w:Raga Sri: King of love with pages. This illustration caught my eyes due to the fine details and the usage of verious different styles of geometrical designs.

Aurangzeb holds court, as painted by (perhaps) Bichitr; Shaistah Khan stands behind Prince Muhammad Azam.Though he did not encourage Mughal painting, some of the best work was done during in his reign.

Painting of a flower by Mansur, Mughal court painter. Though Indian miniatures usually depicting emperors or figures, but paintings such as these are produced as well.

Study – Islamic Calligraphy Style ; Thuluth

One of the styles in Islamic Calligraphy is the Thuluth calligraphy style. Thuluth (Sülüs in Turkish) –  ثلث in Arabic – means one-third. It derives the name by the fact that in this style, every letter slopes in one-third. Large and elegant, it replaced the straight Kufic style preferred prior to the 10th Century as the script used in the writing of the Holy Quran and other decorations. Its form is very different from the Kufic style – Cursive, flowing style which became popular after the 11th Century.

Dimensions of Written Surface: 12.6 (w) x 4.7 (h) cm.Script: thuluth.This calligraphic panel includes a single line of Arabic text executed in black thuluth script. A simple prayer towards God, it reads:”Yakad yumasikuhu ‘irfan rahatihi rukn al-hatim / The grasping of God (al-hatim) brings the knowledge of His comfort.”The line of text is executed on beige paper and outlined in a cloud band on a gold background. It also is provided with a number of colored frames and is pasted to a larger sheet of orange paper backed by cardboard. The lower left corner of the line of text contains a square seal impression with the barely legible names: ‘abduhu (his servant) Muhsin (or Muhyi) al-Musavi and the date 1154/1741-2. Above the line of text and in the center of the green frame appears a minute a posteriori inscription, which reads: khatt-i marhum ‘Ala’ al-Din Tabrizi, shahir bi-Mawlana ‘Alabeg ast (“the handwriting of the deceased ‘Ala’ al-Din Tabrizi, who is known as Mawlana ‘Alabeg”).

‘Ala al-Din Tabrizi was a calligrapher active during the reign of the Safavid ruler Shah Tahmasp (r. 1524-76), for whom he executed royal decrees (firmans). He executed a number of inscriptions placed on buildings in the cities Tabriz, Karbalah, and Qazvin (Safwat 1996: 84-88 and cat. no. 43, and 134-5, cat. no. 65; Huart 1972, 103; and Qadi Ahmad 1959, 79).Although the later inscription attributes the specimen to ‘Ala’ al-Din, it is unclear whether this Arabic prayer indeed was written by the great Safavid master calligrapher.

The style went through a number of changes and evolutions, and it is mark by three distinct ‘revolutions’, all three occurred during the Ottoman Empire in Turkey. Art historians classify the three revolution in the history of this styles as follow –

  1. The first revolution started in the 15th Century by the master calligraphist ŞeyhHamdullah. HE is famous for hand-writing and producing 47 Mushafs, or copies of the Holy Quran.
  2. The second revolution occured during the 17th Century initiated by the Ottoman Calligrapher Hâfız Osman.
  3. The third and final revolution started by Mehmed Şevkî Efendi during the late 19th Century and gave the script the look as it is now today.

One of the characteristic of the Thulth script is the implementation of the Harakat, unseen in the prior script Kufic style. The Harakat is the symbols signifying different meanings, often representing vowels sounds or sometimes as decorative accents.

The Thuluth script became the origin of many different scripts and styles such as the Muhaqqaq, Nasakh and Ruq’ah scripts.

ManuScript in Arabic on paper, China, late 16th to early 17th c., 30 vols. (complete) 50-60 ff. per vol., 20×28 cm, single column, (13×17 cm), 5 lines in a regional muhaqqaq book script, sura headings in gold on a dark blue ground with red ruling and frame, verses separated by gold rosettes, opening and closing double-page illumination for each volume with knotwork and arabesque panelling in gold and colours, frontispiece with 2 circles containing geometrical pattern of interlocking triangles and circles with diamonds containing the profession of faith above in Kufic book script, and 2 vertical lines of text in gold thuluth book script.

Imagining Islamic Aesthetics #32 – Islamic Calligraphy as Building Decoration

If you are a long time reader of this blog, you would probably seen some pictures of buildings or mosques that are decorated with calligraphy. So in this edition of Imagining Islamic Aesthetics I would like to focus more on these decoration method the Muslims used on their structures, particularly mosques.

Islamic calligraphy in any of its form are used as one of the decorations of buildings and structures utilized by the Muslims as it is one of the Islamic Decorative Canon. the others that is the Geometric designs and Arabesques are used alongside Calligraphy for decoration as well. It is executed in many ways – in carvings, paintings and even with tiles. All, if not most, calligraphy styles are used.

The Minaret at Qutb Minar in Delhi, India. The carved Arabic calligraphy in Thuluth style formed bands around the tower.

Another calligraphy executed in carved plaster in
Bab Agnaou Medrassa in Fez, Morocco. The style is Fezi, or Fez Style.

Fragment of a frieze bearing a floriated Kufic inscription: the ayat al-Kursi, or Throne verse from the Qu’ran. Aleppo pine, with carved, painted and gilded decoration. Fatimid Egypt, end of the 10th century.

Arabic Calligraphy in The Wazir Khan Mosque in Lahore, Pakistan. The Calligraphy is a Hadith (prophet’s tradition) in Arabic.

Author - Marius Arnesen from Oslo, Norway

Friday Mosque in  Herat, Afghanistan. Cool cobalt blue tiles with calligraphy is common in central Asian mosques.

Technicals – Advanced – Finding The Eight-Pointed Star In a Grid

It’s the 100th post for the blog! Nothing to celebrate much, though.

Anyway, it’s another posting for making the eight-pointed star, this time on a grid! Don’t worry about the “Advanced” tag on the title ; It may be confusing because of the grid, but with a keen eye and careful observation, you can make Eight-pointed stars easier and more accurately (providing that your grids have correct measurements)

  1. First, have your grid ready. One easy way to do this is by using grid paper, and creating extra diagonal lines for each of the squares. done correctly, you would have something that looks like this. Note that you have to do it accurately, since slight differences would make the eight pointed stars turn weird. –
  2. Once you have an accurately measured grid to work on, you only have to find a suitable spot to create your Eight-Pointed stars! Start slowly at first by creating a square. Make it large – take a 3×3 grid –
  3. Add another square, using the original square you have made. Look at the next picture and note where the corners of the next square is placed.

There is nothing “advanced” to this technique, actually. The only hard thing here is about the grid, and making correct alignments and measurements (as the rest of the techniques used to create the Eight-Pointed stars I had noted before.)

Imagining Islamic Asthetics #31 – Islamic Persian Architecture

For this edition of Imagining Islamic Aesthetics I would like to feature Islamic Persian Architecture. Persian or Iranian Architecture have a wide range of topics, with different uses (religious,civil etc) and different influences (Islamic, Zoroastrian), but I would like to focus the buildings that were influenced by Islamic aesthetics.

The fall of the Persian empire under the advancing Islamic Empire army led to building of religious monuments to serve the troops and subsequently the converts and the  Muslim settlers there. Artistic works and decoration such as mosaic tiles, Muqarnas and the like became tied to this period. The Islamic architecture there were influenced by the former Persians, the Sassanids. Experts believe that the peak of the Persian architecture was between the 13th and 17th century, when many structures from this period still stands even today.

Kharaghan twin towers, Qazvin province, 1067 AD, Iran. Here are the tombs of two Seljukian princes. A devastating earthquake in 2002 severely damaged both towers. Photo by user Zereshk.


Author Mardetanha


soltaniyeh dome, situated in Soltaniyeh,in the Province of Zanjan, some 240 km to the north-west from Tehran, used to be the capital of Ilkhanid rulers of Persia in the 14th century. Its name translates as “the Imperial”.


Author - Marmoulak


Jameh Mosque of Ashtarjan, Iran. Blue tiles became typical characteristics of  Persian architecture.



Author - Phillip Maiwald (Nikopol)


The tomb of Saadi (Aramgah-e-saadi) in Shiraz, Iran. Gardens are very common feature in any Persian buildings, as well as accompanying pools and fountains, that reflect the Muslim belief of Paradise.

Modern buildings in Tehran, Iran, showing facade influences of Qajar era architecture on modern high rise buildings.

Observations – Park 51 Community Centre Designs

First of all, I neither have any interest to discuss the political aspects of the largely controversial Park 51 project in New York City, nor I would like to discuss the propagandas , since I don’t live in NYC (or in the US in that matter). But I would like to express my opinion that everyone have the right to do what they want – and everyone should respect each individual rights, and regretfully, people (mostly who opposes the project, which by the way wrongly coined as the “Ground Zero Mosque”, since it is a community center) failed to realize the fact that Muslims (and therefore, the existence of mosques) already present in NYC in the late 19th Century with the coming of Arab immigrants from the Ottoman Empire until one portion of Lower Manhattan is called ‘Little Syria’, and mosques are already established and built throughout New York City.

As I noted before I am more interested in the building itself rather than the controversy surrounding it. As the projects proposed plans and drawings emerged in the daily news I read through the internet, I was in awe going through the pictures.

the proposed 13 floor building will feature facilities that will serve to both Muslims and Non-Muslims alike. Facilities include a “praying space” for people of all faiths and ideologies, recreation spaces, restaurants and a culinary school, libraries and also a 9/11 memorial. As I noted before, what had struck me the most is the proposed designs for the building itself.

As a aficionado of  art and architecture, I am impressed with all the proposed designs. Doing this blog you might have thought that I am more into classical, historical architecture but I absolutely love clean sleek lines of modern, minimalist designs and architecture. The architectural design consultants for the community center (SOMA Architects) amalgamated the traditional Islamic designs with cool modern aesthetics to create a truly unique style.

I cannot post the pictures here, but please look into the official website here

UPDATE – Founded some pics off the website in some other blog, thanks to

The proposed front facade of the Park51 Community Centre.

Two different views of the interior of the Park51 Community Centre

The proposed design is clearly influenced by Islamic geometrical designs – you can obviously see the eight pointed stars incorporated into the designs, but it lacked the rigid and orderly manner of which these designs are based upon, but it is scattered around, and almost looked like a beehive of some sort – this is where the modern aesthetics sets in. It looked edgy and modern. I think the design takes the influences mostly from Mashrabias, the decor used over windows in Middle Eastern countries.

The older one, is less spectacular, however the ideas are there, and I think they made a great job with the newer design.