Have you recently inherited or purchased a work of Islamic art and want to know its value? Mearto provides quick and affordable online appraisals of Islamic art. All you have to do is click on the “Start Appraisal” button above and follow the steps to send us information about and images of your Islamic art. One of our qualified and experienced specialists will review and get back to you with a fair market and insurance value, typically within 48 hours. Have questions about the valuation provided, or would you like some advice about selling your Islamic art? We are here to help! Our platform allows you to chat back and forth with a specialist to ensure that all of your questions are answered.
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Islamic art covers a wide range of styles and types of objects spanning time and continents. The term may refer to art that is specifically related to the Islamic religion or to secular art that springs from cultures that have embraced Islam.
The religion of Islam began around 1500 years ago and has since spread to many cultures and nations, resulting in art forms that combine elements of those cultures as well as elements from the Islamic religion. An important aspect of some interpretations of Islam is the prohibition of depicting the human form. Thus, a significant portion of this genre focuses primarily on intricate geometric patterns and calligraphy.
An important early era in Islamic art is the period of the Umayyad Caliphates (661–750). “Caliphate” refers to an Islamic state, and the Umayyad clan-led caliphate spread throughout Northern Africa, Spain and most of the Middle East. A famous example of Islamic art produced during this time is the Dome of the Rock mosque in Jerusalem.
This was followed by the era of the Abbasid Caliphate (750-1258). Under the Abbasid dynasty reign, Baghdad was a central cultural capital of the world and produced many excellent works of art, architecture, and crafts. The sack of Baghdad by the Mongols brought about the end of this period, known as “the Golden Age of Islam.”
The Ottoman Empire (1299–1922) succeeded the Abbasid caliphate. Stretching across Southeastern Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East. Many forms of art blossomed in this period, including carpet weaving and calligraphy.
The Mughal Empire in India, which lasted from the 1500s until the mid 19th century, is another important source of Islamic art. Richly detailed jewel-toned miniature paintings and elaborate objects are especially representative of this era.
In the modern period, Islamic art has been influenced by Europe, but mostly has continued to focus on traditional forms, especially crafts like metalwork, calligraphy and mosaic.
There are many categories of Islamic art. First there are a variety of art forms and media. These include painting, calligraphy, furniture, ceramics, textiles, and metalwork. Within each of these categories, further classifications can be made.
For example, in Persian carpets, one can distinguish between several materials and styles. They may be woven out of silk, wool, or cotton, and dyed using natural or synthetic colors. They may be knotted or flat-woven. Persian rugs are also categorized into “nomadic”, “village, and “town” styles. Even within each of those categories, there are further distinctions between specific regions and the motifs and patterns used by artists.
Mughal painting can also be classified according to several factors. These miniature and detailed paintings may be illustrations from literature, a form of historical documentation, or portraiture. They may be single panels or pages in manuscripts. As this art form developed, one can also find artistic variations in use of space and certain conventions that distinguish one school or period from another.
Regions are another way to categorize Islamic art. There are many regions where Islamic art may come from. India, Iran, Spain, Iraq, Morocco, and Syria are just a few of these. As Islam has spread throughout many parts of Africa and Central Asia, so there are many more regions that produce Islamic art.
Another way to categorize Islamic art is by time period. One can distinguish between the art of different dynasties or caliphates stretching back 1500 years.
An abstract painting by the Turkish artist Princess Fahrelnissa Zeid sold for $2.7 million in 2013.
A 17th century Persain carpet broke records in 2013 when it sold for $33.7 million at Sotheby’s.
The most expensive Islamic manuscript sold at auction was the Timurid Quran, written in the 15th century, which went for $9.6 million at Christie's in 2020.
Islamic art is valued according to several factors. Condition is important. The item should be absent of stains or broken parts, and it is best if it has not been repaired or refinished, which will alter its original state.
Islamic art is also valued according to age. Works from important historical eras are more valuable. The identity of the artist may also increase an item’s value. Additionally, provenance, or the record of previous owners, is important in establishing authenticity and increases the value of a piece.
Medium and type of art or craft is important. For example, a painting or sculpture that incorporates rare metals or jewels may be worth more than an ink drawing or ceramic work.
Leah Illingworth is a content specialist here at Mearto. She loves learning and writing about art and antiques each day in addition to exploring the history and stories behind art movements and objects.