By Jamal J. Elias

Media assurance of the Danish comic strip problem and the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan left Westerners with a robust effect that Islam doesn't countenance depiction of spiritual imagery. Jamal J. Elias corrects this view by means of revealing the complexity of Islamic attitudes towards representational non secular paintings. Aisha’s Cushion emphasizes Islam’s perceptual and highbrow modes and in so doing deals the reader either perception into Islamic visible tradition and a different approach of seeing the world.

Aisha’s Cushion evaluates the controversies surrounding blasphemy and iconoclasm by means of exploring Islamic societies on the time of Muhammad and the beginning of Islam; in the course of early touch among Arab Muslims and Byzantine Christians; in medieval Anatolia and India; and nowa days. Elias’s inquiry then is going additional, to situate Islamic non secular artwork in an international context. His comparisons with Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, and Hindu attitudes towards spiritual artwork exhibit them to be as contradictory as these of Islam. modern theories approximately art’s position in society tell Elias’s research of ways spiritual gadgets were understood throughout time and in numerous cultures.

Elias contends that Islamic views on illustration and belief may be sought not just in theological writings or aesthetic treatises yet in a number of Islamic works in components as different as optics, alchemy, dreaming, calligraphy, literature, motor vehicle and residential ornament, and Sufi metaphysics. Unearthing colors of that means in Islamic idea all through background, Elias bargains clean perception into the kinfolk between faith, artwork, and conception throughout a large diversity of cultures.

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Additional resources for Aisha's Cushion: Religious Art, Perception, and Practice in Islam

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One of the painters claimed to be able to represent a person in relief so that the subject appeared three-dimensional (and therefore “real”), while the other boasted that he could do so by embedding the image in a wall. Immediately before this brief anecdote in al-Maqrizi’s history is an account of a mosque in Cairo that contained a representation of a fountain with footsteps going up to it; viewed from a particu lar spot, it looked as if an actual (three- dimensional) staircase led to the fountain.

Notions of high culture, “beautiful” art as distinct from popular or folk art—to which the label of kitsch could be applied even in reconstructions of the past—automatically inject the objects with several static categories of valuation based on their relative cost and accessibility. 31 In my approach to religious images, I am going beyond the “methodological philistinism” advocated by Alfred Gell as an antidote to being dazzled by the aesthetic value of artworks, 32 to adopting a position of methodological promiscuity: in essence, I am a historian combing the intellectual history and anthropology of visual and material culture, observing the relationship of visual objects to social and individual agency and relations.

Aniconicism is sometimes defined additionally as a form of religious practice that does not accept the worship or veneration of representational images, especially anthropomorphic ones. Very frequently, aniconic ritual incorporates the use of nonrepresentational items such as found objects, unworked stones, or nonrepresentational manufactured artifacts such as poles or pillars. Following Mettinger, I am using the term aniconism in a broader sense to connote the absence of anthropomorphic or theriomorphic representational, mimetic images of deities or other religious personages.

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