Smithsonian Freer Gallery Sackler Gallery National Museum of Asian Art Gallery Guide Arts of the Islamic World
IntroductioncalligraphyAbstract Designpage 1Arts of the BookThe Art of the Object

Contrary to the assumption that the Koran prohibits figurative representation, it only warns against the creation and worship of idols to prevent idolatry. Fueled by more orthodox interpretations of Islam, however, religious disapproval of figural representation took hold shortly after the Prophet's death in 632. In general, Korans, religious structures, and the furnishings for these spaces are devoid of figural imagery and adorned primarily with abstract motifs and calligraphy. Figural representation, on the other hand, is found on works of art created for use in a private, secular context. In part, the religious prohibitions encouraged the development of a distinct abstract decorative language that became another principle feature of the arts of the Islamic world.
This is the last page of Abstract Design


Double-page frontispiece from a Koran

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