Sunday, July 28, 2013

Star Light, Star Bright

One of my favorite places in Doha is the Museum of Islamic Art.  It is a beautiful building, and I love the art and being able to expose my children to it.  The adjacent Education Center holds workshops for both children and adults, but they fill up quickly.  We used to regularly attend the Early years Workshops for young children, but those were unfortunately cancelled this year.  Luckily, Leoni was able to attend a four week class this summer.  

The course was entitled Star Light, Star Bright.  They toured the museum's collection (you can, too through the Google Art Project here) and found pieces with stars incorporated into them.  Stars are a common element in Islamic Art.  

Following are some theories on why Muslim  artists selected star geometric art to convey their creativity  -
  1. Representation of Light – In Islam, God has no image ; meaning that unlike other religions such as Christianity, Buddhism or Hinduism, Islam does not take any image to represent their God. The only thing that described God in Islam as in imagery is that God is light, as the Al-Quran proclaims- “God is the light of the heavens and earth”.  Stars produced light in the heavens, so it is not as surprising that Muslims chose stars to represent light to decorate sacred buildings as well as illumination for sacred texts.
  2. Stars are Guides in the Desert – The first Muslims were desert-dwellers and relies on the stars for guidance as in navigation through the deserts or the sea. Besides being the navigational help, stars also play a role in pointing out and deciding the direction of the Qiblah or the direction of the Kaabah, where every Muslims face during their prayers. Thus, stars bears a significance in the early Muslims daily lives and became a part of the Islamic aesthetic.
  3. The Repeating Geometric Patterns are a glimpse into the Spiritual World and Perfection – Geometry has been associated with metaphysical properties long before Islam. For example, the Greeks had contemplated the perfection of Geometry and came to associate it with divine properties. The Muslims, who studied the Greeks mathematical works, amongst other, agreed and integrated Geometric art as a spiritual gate to the divine plane.
The above information found here.

One of their projects was constructing a lantern like this one

They typically were hung in mosques and lit to emulate the heavens and stars

I didn't take a picture of the final piece, but here are the kids painting it

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