What are some characteristics of Islamic art and architecture?

5 Answers

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megan-bright | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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Islamic architecture is not always religious, but includes many secular styles as well. There are four principal Islamic architectural types: Mosque, Tomb, Palace, and Fort. Some elements of Islamic style include: Arabesque, domes, and minarets.

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e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The arabesque described above is often made as a mosiac. Colorful tiles arranged in geometrical patterns can be found in Islamic architecture.

The minaret that tops a mosque is another common feature in Islamic architecture.

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vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Since I know very little about Islamic art and architecture, I thought it might be helpful to you if I did a little research on your behalf.

Here are some links that look especially helpful:







Please note that the final link here will take you to previews of many books that may offer actual photos of art and buildings.

Of course, you can always go here for similar photos:


Good luck!


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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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A predominant characteristic of Islamic art is that it is nonrepresentational. Rather than representing images and figures as Western art does, Islamic art is comprised of geometric shapes and patterns. One of these is called the arabesque, which is an interweaving of floral, leaf and geometric designs. Early Islamic architecture borrowed domes, arches and pillars from early Christian architecture.

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lhc | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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One characteristic that sets Islamic art and architecture apart from that of other cultures is the ban on depicting animals or human beings, which could be construed as idol-worship; for this reason, Islamic art developed by utilizing geometric, floral and calligraphic shapes and forms, often interwoven.  

Islamic art has differed according to which part of the Muslim world it developed in, as this world extends from North Africa to Southeast Asia, and within is arrayed a wide variety of local customs.  Some areas are characterized by unsophisticated folk art, while others have produced works of great intricacy and sophistication in calligraphy, ceramics, pottery, and architectural ornamentation.  

Although traditional forms have suffered somewhat at the hands of modernization and machines, a large part of the Muslim world still respects the history and craftsmanship of these handcrafted artistic endeavors, particularly in the field of architectural ornamentation.