Great Mosque of Damascus. West arcade mosaics. Detail: Mansions of Paradise.
8th c Syrian Umayyad Mosaics
(661 - 1031)
This is a detail of one of the magnificent mosaics that decorated the interior of the arcades which enclosed the courtyard of the Great Mosque of Damascus. The mosaics depict a river, trees and elaborate villas, but no human beings. Although not explicitly forbidden by the Koran, Moslem custom discouraged the portrayal of human beings or animals in religious art for fear of creating the idols that were so abhorred. The rich mosaics portrayed instead the gardens of paradise that awaited the faithful in heaven, and particularly the heavenly mansions that had been prepared for them.
Although they create powerful designs, these early mosaics are not two-dimensional like the tiles that represented the Ka'ba. Instead we can see an attempt to depict three dimensions through such devices as the modeling in the tree trunks and the representation of the mansions in perspective.
UMAYYAD | Great Mosque of Damascus. West arcade mosaics. Detail: Mansions of Paradise. | 708-715 | Islamic | Umayyad
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