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Arts, Art and Architecture

Al-Azhar mosque, Arabic calligraphy, madrasa, Upper Egypt, Islamic school

Islamic norms prohibit the representation of people and animals in art. As a result, Egyptian Islamic art relies heavily on Arabic calligraphy and abstract arabesque designs. The Fatimid era (969-1171) and the Mamluk era (1250-1517) were especially rich in architectural monuments, many of which remain standing in Cairo today. The principal surviving monuments of the Fatimid era are Al-Azhar mosque and the city’s northern gates. The grandest monument of the Mamluk period is the madrasa (Islamic school) of Sultan Hasan. In the 1920s and 1930s, Mahmud Mukhtar, who ignored the Islamic prohibitions, became a well-known and highly respected sculptor and a leading figure in the emergence of modern Egyptian plastic arts. His statue Egypt Awakening (1928) is an icon of nationalist cultural modernism. Twentieth-century architect Hasan Fathy became known for promoting elements of traditional peasant design. Among his better-known public buildings is the mosque in Gurna, a village near Luxor in Upper Egypt.

Article key phrases:

Al-Azhar mosque, Arabic calligraphy, madrasa, Upper Egypt, Islamic school, Luxor, leading figure, Cairo, village, result, animals, representation of people


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