Imagining Islamic Aesthetics # 43 – Fatimid Caliphate Art and Architecture

I had promised that I will post Imagining Islamic Aesthetics posts twice per month in my last IIA posting, so here it is, enjoy!


For this edition of Imagining Islamic Aesthetics I would like to focus on Fatimid Caliphate Art and Architecture. Since this blog focuses on art, I will not elaborate much on the history of the caliphate…not for the time being though. I will do another full article on the Fatimid Dynasty, as well as the artistic and architectural impact they had done to the Islamic art and generally to the creative world itself.

The Fatimid Caliphate was founded in 909  before being taken over by the Ayyubids in the year 1171. The Fatimids founded the Egyptian capital of Cairo or Al-Qahira in 969,  and their rule reached  Palestine, the Hijaz peninsula, most of north Africa and even a part of Italy. Since their area of power is a where trade routes between the Indian subcontinent and the Mediterranean cross the Fatimid Caliphate was a successful and rich period of Islamic dynasty. The opulence of the Fatimid court led to a rediscovery of appreciation of the arts.

Ewer with birds. Body: rock crystal (Fatimid art, late 10th century–early 11th century); lid: filigreed gold (Italy, 11th century). From the Treasure of Saint-Denis. Rock crystal artistry is particularly prevalent in the Fatimid era.

Panel with hunters. Carved and engraved ivory with traces of paint, 11th–12th century, Egypt. Figurative representations were not uncommon in Fatimid Egypt and was a subject of many artifact done at that time.

Author - Memorato

Museo dell’Opera del Duomo: Griffin-shaped fountain spout. Bronze. Early 11th. century artwork from Al-Andalus or Fatimid Egypt (from Palermo ?) Fatimid art and sculptures were also appreciated outside the Muslim world and even used to hold sacred items and in churches.

Author - Md iet (talk). Original uploader was Md iet at en.wikipedia

Insciption above the main portal of the Al Aqmar Mosque, Cairo, Egypt. The Kufic script were mostly used in the Fatimid era, from monumental inscriptions to amulets.

The Al-Azhar mosque seen in the Sahn (courtyard) The Al-Azhar mosque is also a part of the Al-Azhar University, one of the oldest university in the world. Al-Azhar was taken from the name of Muhammad’s daughter Fatima, whose full name is Fatima Az-zahra


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