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A Methodology For Studying Muqarnas: The Extant Examples In Palermo

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Chapter Summary

The muqarnas is one of the key motifs of Islamic art. The muqarnases still present in Palermo are a rare case of non-Islamic manifestations of the form; to be exact, they were built by Islamic craftsmen, but commissioned by the Normans. The aim of this chapter is to find the key to identifying the place of origin of the artisans who crafted the muqarnases of the Zisa. The muqarnas is a three-dimensional composition created by assembling, in a variety of combinations, simple prismatic elements, comparable to portions of vaults and composed according to precise rules, in overlapping corbelled levels. To build a muqarnas, two-dimensional patterns are usually used as guides. The chapter discusses the purpose of drawing the prismatic elements of which the muqarbas of the Western Islamic tradition. Finally, the chapter concludes that the muqarnas examples analyzed share a similar geometry with North African models.

Keywords: Islamic art; muqarnas; North African models; Palermo; Zisa



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