The greater part of this collection of examples of Islamic decorative art consists of my own photographs, gathered in a series of trips to many of the principle Islamic regions over a twenty-year period. This photo-archive, then, is made up of material from eight distinct regions, each of which had its own historical and stylistic development. There is no single Islamic style, but there is a strong emphasis throughout on pattern and on the decorative arts in general. This has always been the focus of my own interest in the broad subject of Islamic art and architecture.
‘Pattern in Islamic Art’ is pleased to announce a new section dedicated to material on the Islamic decorative arts contributed by various fellow-enthusiasts. These include photographs and texts relating to the Paigah Tombs, Hyderabad, India sent in by Aziza Iqbal; Vida Amani’s images and notes on the Sheikh Safi-Eddin Ardebili Complex, Ardabil ; Gini Wade’s recent photos of the Monuments of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva in Uzbegistan. These are joined by Harry Love’s pictures of the remote Palace at Telouet Kasbah in Morocco. Needless to say, we are delighted to be able to present these less familiar examples of the genius of Islamic decorative art to our discerning visitors.
Many forms of artistic expression evolved in the extended Islamic world over the centuries, but certain aesthetic preferences seem to have exerted a stylistic influence wherever the Islamic presence was felt. The emphasis on the decorative arts and the fondness for patterns of every kind were always very much part of this. This section of the Archive is concerned with three artistic traditions that, while outside the mainstream of the Islamic tradition proper, were clearly caught up, or influenced by, its general precepts.
The principle way to see Islamic art outside Islamic countries is, of course, in museums. Many of these collections are magnificent; those of London, New York, Paris and Berlin are deservedly famous, and there are many fine collections in Islamic countries themselves. Unfortunately the light conditions (and other imposed restrictions) often make photography difficult in museums – so that although there are many worthwhile images in this section, there are others that are interesting but, it has to be said, of distinctly variable quality.