Islamic Period Art in Egypt

October 9, 2021

Islamic Period art in Egypt is one of the earliest. In 21 AH / 642 A.D., Egypt became an Islamic state associated with the Rashidun Caliphate’s headquarters in Medina. Since that time, Egypt has served as the wellspring of Islamic culture and civilization, moving through the Abbaside, Tulunid, Ayyubid, and Mamluk Sultanates on its way to the Muhammad Ali dynasty. Furthermore, Egypt became a breeding ground for scientists, academics, and authors, as well as one of the Islamic world’s most important cultural hubs, where architectural and creative features developed: religious, civil, philanthropic, and military. Glass and lamps, woodwork, and lathe wood thrived, as did weaving, ceramics, and pottery. Inlaying, grooving, and bracing were among the metalworking techniques used by Muslim artists.

Islamic Period Art – Mashrabiya

Mashrabiya or Oriel windows are among the most significant aesthetic and architectural aspects of the Islamic period. Influenced by decorative stone and stucco windows, Mashrabiyas were often built of lathe wood, allowing natural light and ventilation to enter the space via the hollows. Masharabiyas thrived during the Mamluk and Ottoman periods, beginning in the sixth century AH / thirteenth century A.D. These windows are unique in the world and characterize Egyptian home architecture.

Islamic period art
Mashrabiya – Islamic Art – NMEC

The Mashrabiya became an architectural and decorative element, as well as one of the most significant sources of natural illumination because it enables sunlight to travel through the structure, providing both lighting and ventilation. It also allows ladies to view outdoors without being noticed by people on the outside. Despite its impact on many oriental and European structures, the Mashrabiyas is one of the features of Egyptian urban architecture that we cannot discover in other nations. In addition to inlaying, grooving, and bracing, the Muslim artist was a master of metalworking. Various disciplines of science, such as medicine, astronomy, and chemistry, as well as nature, developed throughout the Islamic civilization in Egypt. Many styles of Arabic calligraphy were invented here, including the Kufic, Naskh, and Thuluth, which may be seen on the walls of numerous structures, as well as the decorating of objects and manuscripts.

Islamic Period Art – Textile

Textile manufacturing prospered throughout the Islamic period, particularly in the first Islamic capital (Fustat). The textile products reflected the wealth of the Fatimid period, attracting the attention of style houses at the time. Their design was characterized by embroidered decorative bands, which were typically one or two horizontal rows of Kufi text with medallion and drawings, or two opposite lines (mirror) that carried the Caliph’s name, rank, ancestors, and date, or three embroidered bands are woven with silk towards the end of the Fatimid period, it evolved to four bands,  while in Mamluk period, it included the prince’s blazons.

Islamic period art
Periods of Fatimid – Mamluk – 5th – 8th centuries AH / 11th – 14th centuries A.D – NMEC

Brazons on Fabrics

Brazons were prominent on textiles during the Mamluk Period, and their depiction indicated the most important jobs undertaken by the trusted Mamluk princes. Among the most important of these jobs was that of the “Jukandar,” who is responsible for carrying the Polo stick and acting as butler; symbolized the cup. The blazon depicting a mule or donkey carrying a box or bag denotes the person in charge of the Sultan’s mail.

Islamic period art
The Mamluk period – 8th century AH / 14th century AD – NMEC

Islamic art Metalwork

During the Mamluk period, when copper and baser metals were widely used, Islamic metalwork varied in function and purpose. Food bowls, for example, were decorated with floral ornaments and complex geometric shapes made up of star shapes and knots, in addition to Kufi and Naskh text, and side tables were made of copper and inlaid with gold and silver; these were used in houses to carry food trays or at mosques to carry the Holy Qur’an, and these were decorated with floral ornaments and complex geometric shapes made up of star shapes and knots, in addition to Kufi and Naskh text.

Period of the Mamluks: 8th century AH to 14th century AD / Copper – Silver – NMEC

There is no doubt that touring Egypt’s Islamic sites is breathtaking, as it is a unique art form that can only be experienced in Egypt. You can explore the Islamic sites of Cairo and other major cities in Egypt by booking one of our Egypt Vacation Packages, or if you are a Cairo resident, you can learn more about Egyptian Islamic art by taking one of our Cairo Tours and Excursions.

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