Persian art and architecture: The Coming of Islam

Little remains from the early centuries of Islam in Iran, but the influence of Persia on Islamic art and architecture in Syria and Palestine is very strong. A significant innovation by the Persians is the raising of a dome over a square hall by means of squinches. Also influential was their use of cut-stucco decoration, various intricate motifs, and ever-apparent symmetry.

The earliest important Islamic monument extant in Iran is the mausoleum of Ismail the Samanid at Bukhara. Dated 907, it is a solid, square building in cut-brick style, covered by a dome. During this early period, ceramics were raised to a major art form. The finest were the calligraphy wares of Nishapur and Samarkand. The star-shaped tomb tower of Qabus (1006) presents a form with far-reaching influence. Both pottery and metalwork were further developed under the Seljuk Turks in the 11th and 12th cent. Luster and minai ceramics—using overglaze enamel colors including leaf gilding—both with intricate scenes of court life, were produced at Rayy, Kashan, and elsewhere.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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