This academic study is devoted to an important and complex but often neglected topic in the history of Islamic arts : what is ornamentation, why and for whom did Muslim decorate, is the decoration in Muslim arts only an ornament or do the ornamental motifs convey symbolic meanings? The book is divided into three parts. A first part deals with the historical, methodological, and philosophical difficulties of a contemporary approach to the so-called Islamic ornamentation . A second part evokes the different context, status, generic meanings of ornamentation, whether social, humanistic, or cosmological. A third part is devoted to the difficult question of interpretations and symbols in Islamic ornamentations: the epigraphy, the absence or restricted use of figurative images, the universal signs used in ornaments (geometric and vegetal motifs, centre and axis, light and radiance, weaving), the symbolic values and hermeneutic potentialities of the various historical ornaments found in the Islamic arts. The conclusion examines the relationship between the ornamentation and the Muslim religion and offers a few explanations why Muslims scholars before modern age talked so little about ornamentation. The book includes an extensive bibliography, a general index, an index of quranic verses, and, gathered at the end of the book, around 500 pictures of architectures and objects presented in a chronological and systematic way.
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Patrick Ringgenberg (bornin 1970 in Lausanne) is currently Associate researcher at InstitutReligions, Cultures, Modernité, Lausanne University. He holds a PhD in History (University of Geneva), an MA in religious sciences (Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris-Sorbonne), and an MA in Cinema-Video(Ecole Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, or E.S.A.V., Geneva).He wrote several books in French devoted to history of art and history of religions: L Union du Ciel et de la Terre. La peinture de paysage en Chine (Paris, 2004) ; L art chrétien de l image. La ressemblance de Dieu (Paris, 2005) ; La peinture persane ou la vision paradisiaque (Paris, 2006) ; Guide culturel de l Iran (Téhéran, 2006) ; Miroirs du Moyen Âge (Paris, 2006) ; L univers symbolique des arts islamiques (Paris, 2009) ; Une introduction au Livre des Rois (Shâhnâmeh) de Ferdowsi. La gloire des rois et la sagesse de l épopée (Paris, 2009) ; Diversité et unité des religions chez René Guénon et FrithjofSchuon (Paris, 2010) ; Les théories de l art dans la pensée traditionnelle. Guénon Coomaraswamy Schuon Burckhardt (Paris, 2011). His book L univers symbolique des arts islamiqueswas awarded in 2012 by the two most prestigious awards in Iran: the World Prize for the Book of the Year of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Farabi International Award.
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