Different Types of Traditional Islamic Arts

Islamic arts are known to cover all the visual arts of Muslims and are considered as an important part of their society. They differ from other form of arts as they are both produced by the religion of Islam and other Islamic cultures. They are not necessarily created by Muslims; some are made by other artists who are working for Muslim patrons. They do not refer to a particular period or style, but they cover a wide purview.

There are different types of traditional Islamic arts – calligraphy, painting, rugs and carpets, ceramics, glass, and metalwork.


Calligraphic design is a universal design in Islamic art. It may be included in secular objects such as coins, metalwork, painted miniatures, and tiles. They also include inscriptions of poetry verse, ownership, and donation. Two of the main script involved are kufic and naskh scripts, found on the walls and domes of buildings. For most of the Islamic period, most coins have letterings of elegant styles and small sizes. Single sheets of calligraphy are also designed for albums, containing short poems, verses in Quran, and other texts.


The longest and most developed form of painting in Islamic art is the miniature in illuminated manuscripts. Miniatures are special arts of the court because they are not open to the public. They often contain a lot of small figures. Illustrated books contain the classics of Persian poetry and military chronicles of Turkish conquests. Chinese influences include vertical format which led to bird-eye view depicted in palace buildings and hilly landscapes. The paintings include contrasting colours as well.

Rugs and Carpets

Islamic art has become more popular due to the pile carpet or Oriental rug. This art uses daily Muslim and Islamic life in all sizes and shapes. It has been exported and used in European practice, especially in Netherlands. As a rich and deeply-embedded Islamic tradition and practice, many factories, rural communities, and nomadic encampments use this art. They use natural and easy carpet designs such as straight lines and edges, and flowing loops and curves.


Another notable achievement of Islamic art is found in ceramics, including tiles and pottery. Stone-paste ceramics is another development, along with the incorporation of glasses of iridescent colours. Islamic pottery was influenced by the Chinese in terms of techniques, decorative motifs, and shapes. A great example is a type of maiolica earthenware jar called albarello. Albarello was designed to hold apothecaries’ dry drugs and ointments; thus, it is called as pharmacy jar.


Islamic tradition has become distinct with its glazed and brightly decorated tiling, like that of Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock. Early designs are composed of a mixture of tiles of different colours, cut to shape to create abstract geometric patterns. Later designs involved painted tiles before firing. The letters in the tiles are moulded in three dimensional reliefs and included painting of animals or one human figure.


Glass was the most sophisticated and was exported to both China and Europe. By manipulating the surface of the glass such as incising into the glass and cutting away the background to get the design, luxury glass’ effects are achieved.


Metalwork consists of practical objects in steel, brass, and bronze with simple shapes and highly decorated surfaces. Its colours may be restricted to inlays of copper, black niello, silver, and gold.

Featured image: Creative Commons – Attribution by dalbera

Article by Williams

Williams is a guest blogger interested in writing the articles related to art and painting topics. He is passionate about his writings and he writes mostly on topics like Islamic art and mughal paintings.