Early Islamic Architecture and Structural Configurations

Document Type : Original Paper


Assistant professor, Disaster Education, Application and Research Center, Istanbul Aydin University, Turkey


Islam spread rapidly after its founding, encompassing much of North Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. The art of this vast region draws its distinctive character both from Islam itself and from the diverse cultural traditions of the world’s Muslims. Because Islam discouraged the use of figurative images, particularly in religious contexts- unlike Christian art- Islamic artists developed a rich vocabulary of aniconic, or nonfigural, ornament that is a hallmark of Islamic work. This vocabulary includes complex geometric patterns and the scrolling vines known outside the Islamic world as arabesques. Figural representation, to the extent it was permitted which varied from time to time and place to place, first developed most prominently in regions with strong pre-Islamic figural traditions, such as those that had been under the control of the Roman and Byzantine empires. Stylized forms for representing animals and plants developed in the regions that had been under the control of the Sassanian dynasty of Persia (modern Iran), the heirs of the artistic traditions of the ancient Near East, who ruled from 226 to 641. Because the Arabian birthplace of Islam had little art, these Persian and Roman Byzantine influences shaped Islamic art in its formative centuries.
The elements of early early Islamic architecture were formed to respond effectively to people’s physical, environmental, social, physiological and religious requirements at their time. The research demonstrates that architects used to copy-paste various elements of the Islamic historical buildings in their design work without understanding the meanings and values that it holds. Such approach would only transfer the element’s form though strips it from its historical context and values. The paper argues that architect should comprehend not only the hidden values of the historical elements only but also how values interacted and are integrated into these elements. By doing so, the architect would be able to correctly perceive and read these elements thus incorporate it successfully in his/ her design. This article gives perspective of early Islamic architecture and structural configurations of the related era.