Types of Art
Arabic art takes on many forms, though it is jewelry, textiles and architecture that are the most well-known. It is generally split up by different eras, among them being early Arabic, early medieval, late medieval, late Arabic, and finally, current Arabic. One thing to remember is that many times a particular style from one era may continue into the next with few changes, while some have a drastic transformation.
Painting, writing, and calligraphy...
This may seem like a strange grouping of art mediums, but they are all closely related. Arabic writing is done from right to left, and was generally written in dark inks, with certain things embellished with special colored inks (red, green, gold). In early Arabic and early Medieval, writing was typically done on parchment made of animal skin. The ink showed up very well on it, and occasionally the parchment was dyed a separate color and brighter ink was used (this was only for special projects). The name given to the form of writing in early times was called Kufic script.
The late medieval period was heavily influenced by China and introduced illuminated manuscripts, which were writings decorated with extremely detailed drawings and paintings - often with expensive ink. They are one of the most well-known types of Arabic art. Cursive writing became more popular during this time, and began showing up on different objects, like pottery and carved panels.
Illuminated manuscripts continued into the late Arabic period and also brought about the creation of albums, where drawings were combined with written work and bound into a book for a special person, like a king or sultan. Portrait painting also became popular at this time, and were created not only for the wealthier people, but peasants and merchants at well. Paper-making was also in full swing by now, due to the popularity of the illuminated manuscripts.
Arabic pottery was considered advanced, even in early times. They often used a technique called luster painting, which made the piece of pottery appear to be made of a precious metal. It was an expensive thing to produce, which meant it was really only made for the wealthy. Eventually there was also ceramic ware that had simple designs painted on them, accompanied by an inscription, usually a quote.
Luster painting continued into the early medieval era, but with more designs of animals and humans being added to the finished piece. Another type of ceramic work called fritware was created, which made pieces that resembled Chinese porcelain.
Through the late medieval and late Arabic periods, pottery continued to emulate Chinese designs, with the technique becoming more advanced. Stronger wares were created and were able to withstand much more use, and different colors began to make their way in. For one of the first times, purple, black, and different shades of green began to appear
Glass, metal, and other mediums...
Early glass work in early Arabic is similar to Roman glass work, and was generally used on bottles and containers. Metal work used a lot of bronze and brass to produce flatware, eating utensils, jugs and containers. Precious metals were also used, but as with pottery, they were more expensive. Wood was rare and expensive, and was often used on carvings for decoration.
When the early medieval period came around, glass work began to borrow from Egyptian art. They picked up a technique called marvered and combed glass, which left an interesting feather pattern on the glass. Metal work was similar to earlier times, except it began to add decorations in precious metals on top of bronze and brass, and the technique began to be used on many other objects, like candlesticks and pens.
The late medieval era brought about tile work, with designs inspired by China. They were sometimes cut into shapes, like stars and crosses, and were colored with bright blues and golds. In the late Arabic period, wood-working grew in popularity, using things like ivory and mother of pearl to decorate various pieces of furniture as well as architectural designs.