для читателей старше 18 лет
The Qur’an of Argun Shah. Egypt. 1368—1388.
In the artistic treasury of mankind, one of the most important places belongs to the medieval art of peoples inhabiting now large areas of Asia and Africa from the shores of the Atlantic Ocean to Indonesia and from the Mediterranean to the upper Nile. The main focus of the formation of this art were the countries of the Near and Middle East, North Africa and Southern Spain at the time when a huge feudal state, the Caliphate, was formed on their territory. It was created by the Arabs who inhabited the Arabian Peninsula.
The culture of settled and nomadic tribes of Arabia is known since ancient times. In the south, in the fertile Yemen, and in the western part of the peninsula (the Hijaz region), as early as the 1st millennium BC, there were rich kingdoms. Their prosperity, as well as the emergence of large-scale Arab cities, was determined by a favorable economic situation on the world caravan routes and extensive mediation trade with Egypt, Asia and India. Especially the people of the city of Hijaz became rich — the agricultural Medina and the commercial Mecca.
The main population of Central and Northern Arabia was cattle breeding nomadic tribes. They were called Bedouins — «people of nomadic life.» In search of pastures and water sources, Bedouins with herds of camels roamed the boundless arid steppes and semi-deserts of Arabia, crossed by dry riverbeds. The tent served as tents or tents, in which lived individual families. Each tribe believed in his patron god, performing sacrifices to his rough stone idol. Arabs deified the forces of nature, heavenly bodies, stones, trees, streams.
The general Arabian sanctuary was the Kaaba (literally: the cube) in Mecca.
The Arabian nomads created beautiful verse-songs, usually performed under musical accompaniment. The storytellers memorized the verses by heart. In Bedouin oral poetry, in vivid images, that which surrounded man was glorified — severe nature, people, animals. Poetry, characterized by simplicity, vitality, sincere feeling, were real works of poetic art. Moreover, the ability to write poetry was valued by Bedouins no less than military valor.
The population of Arabia lived in conditions of the disintegration of the tribal system and the formation of class society. One of the means of uniting numerous Arab tribes into a single state was the Muslim religion, or Islam. In Arabic, «Islam» means «submission», and the name «Muslims» comes from the word «Muslim» -translated to Allah, in the plural — «Muslimon.» Polytheism of the tribes, Islam opposed the cult of the one, only, eternal and all-powerful God of Allah.
The founder of the religion, an Arab merchant from the city of Mecca, Mohammed, on the representation of Muslims, is the messenger of Allah, the last prophet, sent to the people with God’s word embedded in his mouth. The revelations of God to Muhammad were collected by the followers of the prophet in the Qur’an. In this Holy book of Muslims for the first time received a clear design in written form in the Arab language as a language of religion, the state, literature and science. Founded by Muhammad, the Muslim community-the core of the future state-became the religious and political center of the unification of Arabia. However, at first Muhammad and his followers were subjected to severe persecution. Therefore, in 622 there was a resettlement (in Arabic: Hijra) of the creed and his entourage from Mecca to Medina, which marked the beginning of the Muslim chronology, which is still on the lunar calendar. By the end of 630, as a result of a long struggle, Muslims had subjugated all of Arabia. The pagan Kaaba was recognized as a common Muslim Shrine, and the idols surrounding it were broken. The center of the state became a Mecca. Pilgrimage to Mecca was imputed to Muslims as a duty. During prayers, performed five times during the day at the exact time, Muslims are facing in this direction.
«Deputy» Muhammad became the caliphs — both secular and spiritual leaders of the state.
At first, especially revered, «righteous» caliphs — Abu-Bekr, Omar, Osman, Ali — and when they replaced the caliphs of the Umayyad dynasty (661—750) Arabs conquered vast territories in Asia, Africa and South-Western Europe. Their military expansion was opposed by such powerful powers as Byzantium and Iran. However, weakened by the long and exhausting internecine war, they could not stand the rapid onslaught of the young Arab state. The Arabs conquered the Byzantine Empire, Syria and Palestine (640), Egypt (642) and the region of North Africa — the future of Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco (in 709 troops commander Musa Ibn Nusayri came to the shores of the Atlantic ocean). In 633—651, the Arabs conquered all the provinces of the vast Iranian state of the Sassanid dynasty, which covered the lands from the Euphrates to modern Afghanistan and from the Caucasus to the Persian Gulf. In 711 the armies of the Arabs, together with the forces of the Berbers (the indigenous population of North Africa) under the leadership of Tariq Ibn Ziyad compressed Strait through the rocks (he later named Gibraltar, meaning «Mountain of Tariq») invaded from North Africa to the Iberian Peninsula. Began the conquest of al-Andalus-so the Arabs called Spain. Most of the country was captured, with the exception of the inaccessible Northern mountain regions. After crossing the Pyrenees, Muslims tried to seize southern Gaul, but were defeated by the military, the Franks in the battle of 732 at Poitiers. They were forced to stop further offensive in Western Europe and moved beyond the Pyrenees. At the same time, Arab troops penetrated far to the East, conquering the whole of Central Asia by the middle of the 8th century and reaching the borders of China. So within a relatively short time, there was a Grand feudal state — the Caliphate. In the hands of the caliphs were vast lands and untold wealth.
Going beyond the Arabian Peninsula and rushing to the East and West, the Arabs, most of yesterday’s nomads, faced with the culture of countries where in ancient times there were centers of world civilization. Beautiful cities, decorated with palaces and temples, statues and paintings, became at first mainly a source of military production. It took a long time for Muslim conquerors to assimilate the spiritual and aesthetic values of the conquered peoples. The Caliphate included lands with traditions of Greek and Roman culture (for example, rich Byzantine colonies — Syria and Palestine). On the other hand, the impact of Iranian culture, which reached a special solemnity and perfection in the Sasanian era, was greatly affected.
Born from a combination of its own pre-Islamic past and the traditions of other ancient civilizations, Arab culture has achieved great and independent success in many areas of knowledge and artistic creativity. Arabs made a serious contribution to the world literature and poetry, philosophy and medicine, mathematics and astronomy, geography and history, created beautiful and original works of art.
The culture of Muslim countries has influenced many States in different parts of the world, has become a link between antiquity and the middle ages of Western Europe. The territories of Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia, Azerbaijan and Turkey, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and southern Spain were decorated with beautiful, densely populated, landscaped cities with magnificent buildings. There were new types of monumental buildings: mosques that could accommodate thousands of worshipers, minarets-towers, madrasahs — buildings of Muslim educational institutions, hospitals, libraries, palaces buried in the greenery of gardens, covered markets for several kilometers, Inns — caravanserais, which were erected in cities and on the ways of caravan trade. Sultry climate led to the construction of open and underground water pipes, tanks, ponds, fountains. The richness of the decoration was distinguished by numerous public bathhouses, using the experience of the Roman baths. Construction equipment has created a special design made of mud, brick and stone. Various forms of arches were created — Lancet, horseshoe — shaped, multi-lobed, scalloped, — special systems of vaulted ceilings were invented. Unlimited and whimsical imagination differed all kinds of decorative art, from the ornamentation of buildings to the decoration of household utensils. The refined tastes of court culture coexisted with the powerful rise of arts and crafts in the cities, the highest peak that spans the 10—15 century. A wide trade and cultural exchange contributed to the flourishing of Sciences and various fields of creativity. The culture of the peoples of the Middle East in the first centuries of Islam stood above the European. Thanks to the active translation activity, many achievements of ancient philosophy and science were preserved and transferred to the peoples of Europe.
The idea of a medieval Muslim civilization would have been many times brighter and more grandiose had it not been for the heavy losses and brutal destruction it has been subjected to over the centuries. Time itself destroyed. Natural disasters, relentless sun, the winds, the advancing Sands turned blooming inhabited oases in the abandoned ruins of the dead. But the most destructive force was people. Society lived in the atmosphere of countless wars, foreign invasions, troubles, conspiracies, Palace coups. The years of relative prosperity were followed by periods of chaos, epidemics and a severe famine, carried off tens of thousands of lives. The foundations of the feudal system were shaken by popular uprisings.
For architecture especially harmful was the change of dynasties. The new dynasty, which usually reigned, destroying the previous one, sought to destroy everything that was created before it. This primarily concerned the Palace buildings. Newly built or significantly changed, and many mosques, for the construction of new mosques was considered for the Muslim charity case. With the fate of the ruling dynasties were associated flourishing and desolation of cities. Only a relatively few of them managed to outgrow the framework of dynastic residences, to avoid destruction, to rise and acquire an independent value. The new buildings absorbed the old medieval quarters, which were preserved only as inclusions in the urban landscape. And yet an unforgettable experience to this day leave the old quarters of Damascus, Aleppo, Cairo, Tunisia, Kairouan and especially the cities of Morocco.
After the lands of Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Egypt, Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia and North Africa became part of the Caliphate, their culture, without losing the distinct local peculiarities began to develop in a different direction, gaining new features. In each of the Arab countries, art had its own identity, which distinguished the monuments of Syria from the monuments of Iraq, the works of medieval Egypt from what was created in North Africa and Muslim Spain.
The historical and cultural destinies of Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asia, which were relatively short-lived under Arab rule, were formed differently. Often entering into a single state education, they developed independently, in close cultural interaction with each other.
However, the similarity of the forms of development of feudalism, active trade and cultural ties and the fact of subordination of different peoples to one religion, one language, and one legal and social institution could not but give rise to the features of community in art. Fine arts as a means of propagating religious ideas were excluded from the sphere of Islam. The new religion based its power of influence on the word, not on the depiction of living beings. The main shrines were not icons and statues, but old handwritten Korans.
Highly developed calligraphy, which was a letter not only of religion, but also of poetry, philosophy, science, was regarded as an art, taking an honorable place among its other types. Reaching extraordinary sophistication in the application of various complicated handwriting, calligraphy has become one of the forms of the ornament played a significant role in the arts of the Muslim Middle Ages.
God in the countries of Islam could not be portrayed, but could be denoted by letters and signs. Therefore, in art, especially in the design of religious buildings, a geometric ornament was developed, often consisting of signs and motifs that had a religious symbolic meaning. For example, four vertical lines that schematically expressed the letters of this Arabic word denoted the word «Allah» («God»). Made in a square, they became a symbol of the Kaaba. Two crossed squares formed an eight-pointed star-the most common element of Muslim ornamentation.
Meanwhile, even before the Muslim religion similar elements took place in other cultures. The ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II created a sanctuary near Abu Simbel (now near the Sudanese border), deep in the rock. Before his entrance rise 4 sitting giant-with the features of the Pharaoh. In the mountain, it is home to several successive buildings. The first of them is supported by eight ten-meter statues depicting the God Osiris. Eight ten-meter statues depicting the God Osiris! «The One father» «father Moon» — that’s what was the form of address to God for many centuries and even in the IV century BC Nectaneb I said: «The Great built a house for his father Thoth, twice great, God of Simona (Hermopolis), the great God, which came from the nose of RA (i.e. the Sun), the Creator of his own beauty.»
Archaeologists found the Royal graves of Ur, reproduces the funeral ceremony of the III Millennium BC. Killed all who will help the king in the «next world». The women participating in this procession, according to archaeological excavations, were dressed in bright red robes, which sparkled various jewels. Warlords have been going with all signs differences musicians — with harps or lyres. They were followed by wagons pulled by bulls, or sleds. On the wagon sat the pages or driverless, sled led sled’s bridle. In the end, everyone took a pre-allocated place for them; duty soldiers, closing the procession, stood guard at the exit. All the men and women in their hands had a small bowl — the only item needed to complete the rite. Some victims in the last minutes of their earthly life had to perform certain tasks. At least, it is known that the musicians played their instruments until the very end. When through the centuries the tomb was opened, their hands still convulsively clutching the strings of the harp or lire.
The team all drank the deadly potion. In one of the tombs, archaeologists found a large copper pot in the middle of the moat, which was obviously filled with poison. After that, each laid down in his place in anticipation of death and the transition to a different life with his king or Queen. Then the gravediggers were killed sacrificial animals, put the lyre or harp on the bodies of the dead musician or musicians and rained on top of still struggling with the death of the people of the land, until the entire pit was not filled up until the end.
The Royal graves found by archeologists from Ur almost did not differ from each other by features of a funeral ceremony. In one case, the persons accompanying the king’s body were killed before the construction of the grave. But usually a religious rite was identical to that described above of the ceremony. The most striking example of a sacrificial grave can be considered the Royal crypt PG / 1237. The walls of the burial chamber are partially made of stone and covered with mats. Leaning against the wall, six bodyguards with knives or axes lay in a row. Before them stood a large copper vessel. Not far from the bodyguards lay the skeletons of four harpists. The hands of one of them and got up on the strings of the instrument. The bodies of 64 festively dressed and decorated women, arranged in a certain order, occupied the rest of the space. They had to go to that light without any resistance and all at the same time. The number 64 was considered sacred! (8*8=64). In this case, probably meant the number of nine-day weeks of the calendar of Venus, consisting of 576 (8*72=576) days (in the Palace of king Nabonides also had 64 rooms). 64 and a half of this number (32) found expression in the numerous ruins and burials from the Euphrates to the Nile, which the Bible often mentions. Whether it was the 32 kings or the 32 girls sacrificed, it didn’t matter. Sacred days, sacred the number of stars Venus maintained its significance almost have all peoples under life, and after death.
It is worth mentioning that all 64 women wore light red dresses as they prepared for death. This is because not only green, but also red color in ancient times was considered the color of life. If the people of the ice age and the Stone Age smeared their dead with clay so that they could be resurrected, then a few thousand years later the women of Ur wore red dresses for the same purpose. Painted with green makeup, dressed in red — so they went towards death.
To this should be added the complete indifference of the Arabs to all the ancient writing from the «times of ignorance», that is, before the appearance of the Koran. Even the great Arab scholars of the middle ages were little engaged in manuscripts of their ancestors or inscriptions on monuments.
The city of Marib, located at an altitude of 2000 meters above sea level, is visible from afar, like the veil-Morgan of an American city with numerous skyscrapers. Today the village stands on the step-forming ledges of the mountain, to which he was attached dwellings. Most of the former residence of the Queen of Sheba is not investigated.
The impressive panorama of Marib is complemented by the 12-meter-high supports rising to its left, partially covered with desert sand. They belong to the ruins of the temple of the moon God. There was discovered a short inscription indicating the name of the sanctuary and its God: «Baraan, God Ilumquh», by God here we mean the moon.
Americans found in Marib numerous stone sculptures of the heads of a bull with recesses for a drain of sacrificial blood. To the right of Marib lies the second temple — the round sanctuary of Balkis, Queen of Sheba. Archaeologists for several months unearthed in the sand near Marib temple oval 350 meters in circumference-temple Balkis. They dug up the remains of an elegant hall with columns and an extensive building with eight high pilasters. On the inner wall of the temple found located in a row 64 carved in a niche of false Windows, decorated with bars. Eight and sixty-four are the numbers of the heavenly goddess Venus, not the numbers of the moon. Obviously, among the ancient Arabs the image of the heavenly goddess, Venus merged with the image of the Queen of Sheba — Balkis. Just exactly in religious symbols merge images of the moon and Venus.
Archaeological excavations prove that the sanctuary of Balkis was dedicated to the moon God.
And here, when you delve into the complex interweaving of ideas of the ancient Arabs about Allah and his prophets, the question inevitably arises, what was the meaning of the temple of Balkis for them, if the Arabs have the Moon and the morning star — masculine?
What is interesting, but the type of boats, resembling the sickle of the moon, found in modern locals in the marshy lower Euphrates, near the city of Ur, reminiscent of Italian gondolas. Ancient robbers plundered the tombs of kings and pharaohs, but did not touch the «sacred» boats. Apparently, they were considered sacred and inviolable; these boats are similar to those found near the graves of the pharaohs on the Nile, although there they were much larger and sometimes richer. On these boats the dead king and his court — were sent to «the light». The boats of the dead are distributed throughout the space from Northern Europe to Africa and from the Mediterranean to the South Pacific. In short: this is a copy of the Crescent moon, which floats across the sky as the ocean to the East — toward the Sun. There, in the shining and sparkling country of the Sun, the celestial boat disappears. There is «another world».
Various multiplications of squares gave rise to a complex polygonal pattern. The triangle denotes the «eye» of God (the motive of the ancient magical notions), two-folded triangle «sign of David» — two symbolic eyes of God, who is supposedly overseeing everything. The Pentagon symbolized the five commandments of Islam (faith in the one God, five-time prayer, alms, fasting, and pilgrimage to Mecca).
Appeal to geometric figures existed in the pre-Islamic period among the Arab nomads. Living in the desert, they were guided by the stars, the Sun, the moon and marked their views with geometric signs. With the spread of Islam, ancient astrological symbolism is closely intertwined with the symbols of religion. The Crescent moon, boat, resembling a Crescent moon are found in many ancient cultures, e.g. in ancient Egyptian and Sumerian. Models of boats found by archaeologists as if copy the moon sickle, like a ship. Therefore, the ornament in the medieval Muslim society was «read» as an open book. Developing under the influence of visual traditions of other peoples, it is much more complicated. Along with geometric patterns and inscriptions, floral motifs are widely used in the ornament. Ornament — «music for the eyes» — became for artists the main sphere of application of creative forces, its unprecedented development as if filled restrictions of some fine arts. The religious ban, formulated only by the end of the 8th century, was not always observed. Many areas of creativity were associated with the requirements of secular culture-miniature, Palace paintings, and crafts.
The heritage of Muslim countries was dominated by the art of words, architecture, music, ornament, calligraphy, crafts, and miniature. The important role that mathematics played in the art of the Arab peoples was based not only on the outstanding achievements of the exact Sciences, but also stemmed from the very nature of architecture, music and ornament. In these kinds of art, the strict logic of numbers and rhythmic constructions gained a special aesthetic value.
The emergence of Islam in Arab society in the early 7th century was due to a number of socio-economic and political reasons. Earthly origin of the Muslim religion, socio-economic and ideological roots of the formation of Islam is not a product of a coincidence, one way or another leaves room for a «miracle», but as a natural result of the development of social relations in a certain period of the history of the Arab peoples.
On the Arabian Peninsula, inhabited mainly by nomadic pastoral tribes of Bedouin Arabs, there were important changes in that time. Relations based on property inequality and class privileges began to prevail over tribal or Patriarchal-communal relations and ties due to the decomposition of the old way of life. In the cities, this process was outlined earlier and was more intense.
For example, in Mecca, which grew up at the transshipment point of the caravan route from Yemen to Syria, there were merchants, slave owners and the poor. Slaves worked around the house, worked outside the city and in the nearby oases of the land, grazed cattle, were artisans. It should be said that according to the tradition of the city, inhabited by former nomads, had many «birthmarks» of the tribal system: the population of the districts were immigrants from separate clans, the ancestors and sheikhs of the tribes enjoyed hereditary authority, had some power over the tribesmen. However, monetary relations, trade and craft gradually undermined ties, based on blood kinship. In the cities where merchants were engaged in transit trade, usury prospered: to take «Dinar on Dinar» for the loan became usual norm. That is why the founder of the new religion, Muhammad, in order to win over as many people as possible, condemned usury and declared that Allah forbids «riba», that is, loan interest.
Gradually strengthened ties between tribes, there were alliances of tribes. The idea of uniting tribes found an increasing number of supporters among the tribal nobility and merchants.
The unification of Arab tribes and the strengthening of political and economic ties between cities and human settlements have become an urgent necessity. Different parts of the vast territory of Arabia was the subject of claims of the great empires of that time — Byzantium and Iran. The latter sought to keep under its control path leading from the Mediterranean to India and China, in particular the caravan route from Yemen through Hijaz in Syria, Palestine and Iraq.
As a result of the constant struggle that has been going on for many decades, Iran managed to defeat the satellite of the Byzantium of Ethiopia, which seized Yemen, expel its troops from there and establish its control over the transit trade. Indian goods could now fall into the Byzantine Empire only through Iran. The cessation of transit through Yemen had a serious impact on its economy, the Hijaz cities of Mecca, Taif and others associated with Yemen and the red sea coast (trade routes moved to the Persian Gulf), began to grow. The Meccan rich people who have lost a significant share of the gains from trade, increased exploitation of the working strata of the population, were growing debts of impoverished tribes, unscrupulous money-lenders have increased interest rates.
In Arabia, the socio-economic crisis was growing until unprecedented severity. The contradictions created by or exacerbated by the crisis required resolution. Relations between the owners of land once owned by the entire community and landless congregation, between the nobility and ordinary members of the tribes, between slaves and slave owners, artisans and rich moneylenders, wealthy merchants and their workers became increasingly strained.
The leaders of society clearly felt the need for a strong centralized power, able to keep in check the disgruntled and oppressed people. It would also provide an opportunity to unite the scattered parts of the country, its cities and oases, to ensure national independence, to restore the old caravan routes, to wage wars of conquest.
Old tribal beliefs and religions prevented unification trends and prevented the creation of a unified state on the territory of the entire Arabian Peninsula.
Islam turned out to be an ideological tool suitable for unifying purposes, as well as corresponding to the class interests of the privileged strata of Arab society. His strict, consistent monotheism, the preaching of the «brotherhood» of all Muslims, regardless of their tribal affiliation, met the requirements of the time. Muslims — a word formed from the Arabic «Muslim», that is loyal, obedient. Islam is the word of the same root, meaning: surrender to God, submission.
However, it would certainly be wrong to believe that Islam was the intended result of the activities of certain individuals who set themselves certain political or economic goals.
Islam is a spontaneous religious teaching. It took time. The emergence of Islam was preceded by the spread of the teachings of the Hanifs or hanifism — an early form of Arab monotheism. Hanifs opposed idolatry in various parts of Arabia and rejected polytheism. They preached the idea of monotheism, glorified asceticism. The widespread notion among Muslims that belief in one God begins only with Muhammad is untrue. The latter began religious activity as a follower of hanifism, who recognized instead of many gods the one God — Allah. In the first biography of Muhammad («Sira»), this is stated quite clearly.