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The architecture, literature, and visual arts of the populations that adopted Islam from the 7th century. Islamic visual arts are decorative, colourful, and generally nonrepresentational; the characteristic Islamic decoration is the arabesque. From 750 CE to the mid-11th century, ceramics, glass, metalwork, textiles, illuminated manuscripts, and woodwork flourished; lustred glass became the greatest Islamic contribution to ceramics. Manuscript illumination became an important and greatly respected art, and miniature painting flourished in Iran after the Mongol invasions (1220–60). Calligraphy, an essential aspect of written Arabic, developed in manuscripts and architectural decoration. Islamic architecture finds its highest expression in the mosque and related religious buildings. Early Islamic religious architecture drew upon Christian architectural features such as domes, columnar arches, and mosaics, but also included large courtyards for congregational prayer. Religious architecture came into its own in the period of the caliphates with the creation of the hypostyle mosque in Iraq and Egypt. Islamic literature is written in four main languages: Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Urdu. Arabic is of overwhelming importance as the language of the revelation of Islam and of the Qur'an. The Persians used the genres, forms, and rules of Arabic poetry in their own language but elaborated on them. They also developed a new genre, the masnawi, composed of a series of rhyming couplets, which they employed for epic poetry. Persian literature in turn influenced both Urdu and Turkish literature, especially with regard to vocabulary and metres. In the realm of popular literature, the best-known work is The Arabian Nights' Entertainment, a rich collection of fairy tales from different parts of the Muslim world. See alsohypostyle hall; Mozarabic art.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Islamic arts, visit Britannica.com.
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