Widgetized Section

Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone

These ‘savages’ created some of history’s finest art

Posted by

The Long View: It’s true, I suspect, that “cultural” Islam, which includes a lot of Christian artists, is greater than the Islamic religion

by Robert Fisk, The Independent

On sale outside the Louvre’s spanking new exhibition of Islamic art this weekend was a magazine headline to engage any reader. “Les fanatiques,” it read. The fanatics in question were not Texas pastors or Californian video-makers who burn Korans or insult the Prophet Mohamed. “Les fous de dieu” – the “madmen of God” as the French press usually calls them – are not the Midwest Christian Apocalypse-believers who support Israel and claim, if you believe the latest posters on the New York subway, that they are fighting “savages”.
Oh no, indeed, the fanatics, crazies and savages in question are the chaps who created the Islamic treasury of golden chalices and crimson rugs and silver vases and marble friezes and bronze lions and stone-paste roosters and vast, brass candlesticks beneath the golden “desert” roof of the Louvre’s latest exhibition hall. Even the sumptuous new catalogue that the museum has published to mark the occasion, while padded with the worst of academe’s latest clichés – “dialogue” used as a verb, and far too much “inclusivity” and “interaction” and “spaces” – admits the importance of these glories “in these times preyed on by obscurantist aspirations and extremist tendencies of every kind”.

These words were written by a Muslim – and he certainly wasn’t talking about Mr Breivik or the torturers of Guantanamo and Bagram. For what lies behind the fervour with which we are expected to view these masterpieces of Islamic art in Paris is a simple idea: that Muslims are not all raving, bearded, hand-chopping ambassador-killing head-bangers, but inheritors of one of the world’s greatest cultures, entwined within a tolerant religion, enhanced by learned men (alas, few women) who admitted Jews and Christians into their Islamic society and who produced some of the finest art in history.

“The history of art,” as Sophie Makariou, director of the Louvre’s department of Islamic art, said in an interview last week, “has been written in the West by Westerners.”

read more

Posted by on October 2, 2012. Filed under Europe,France. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

2 Responses to These ‘savages’ created some of history’s finest art

  1. Muhammad Zafrullah

    October 3, 2012 at 7:52 am

    “Oh no, indeed, the fanatics, crazies and savages in question are the chaps who created the Islamic treasury of golden chalices and crimson rugs and silver vases and marble friezes and bronze lions and stone-paste roosters and vast, brass candlesticks beneath the golden “desert” roof of the Louvre’s latest exhibition hall. Even the sumptuous new catalogue that the museum has published to mark the occasion, while padded with the worst of academe’s latest clichés – “dialogue” used as a verb, and far too much “inclusivity” and “interaction” and “spaces” – admits the importance of these glories “in these times preyed on by obscurantist aspirations and extremist tendencies of every kind”.
    These words were written by a Muslim – and he certainly wasn’t talking about Mr Breivik or the torturers of Guantanamo and Bagram.”

    Reminds me of an article ( apparently the author of the above lines was not abreast of the recent news)
    : http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=islamic-artisans-constr
    The title of the article is: Islamic artisans constructed exotic non-repeating pattern 500 years before Mathematicians. To get the readers interested let me include the following excerpt from the link I have given above.
    “The researchers note that the pattern is equivalent to the most famous example of a quasicrystal, discovered in the 1970s by famed mathematician and physicist Roger Penrose, who showed how to construct it by fitting two types of “Penrose tiles” edge to edge according to certain rules.
    Lu says Islamic designers seem to have utilized one of the two methods discovered by Penrose: they assembled the tiles into larger versions of themselves. He says the pattern on the shrine contains a few slight errors that probably occurred during construction or repair, because a flaw in the pattern itself would have led to large, obvious flaws.”
    I took part in an ensuing discussion in a newsgroup. My main point was: How can you tell that there was no mathematics involved and how can you tell that the designers were merely artisans. The discussion can be found at:
    http://mathforum.org/kb/message.jspa?messageID=5540310
    It is a longish thread; I would include just a few of the links that might be interesting.
    http://mathforum.org/kb/message.jspa?messageID=5553751
    http://mathforum.org/kb/message.jspa?messageID=5554661
    http://mathforum.org/kb/message.jspa?messageID=5555332
    The point is there has been so much activity in Sciences and Arts during the Muslim heyday that it is becoming difficult to tell who is running away with what. Let me close with a rejoinder to the author of this article. The author closes with:
    “Which brings me to my saddest reflection. Has Islamic art produced anything that is non-derivative this past century? (Or Christian art, for that matter – and please don’t talk to me about the “new” Coventry Cathedral.)
    And if not, why not? Has technology taken over? Are we to conclude that Islamic culture could survive the horrors of Ghengis Khan – but not the invasion of CNN?”
    My response: Hold your horses! We haven’t got our house in order yet, after all that looting, plundering and innuendo-ing. Once we’re done killing each other we’d show you what beauty is with or without CNN, and how can you tell something is not brewing right now?

  2. Izabelle

    October 7, 2012 at 3:31 am

    hello…i didn’t understand what the writer said cause i’m french educated, so i need your help in explaining this article to me please..thank you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>