Throughout Islamic lands, the use of wood into every aspect of life is apparent. From ceremonial to daily use, the artistry of Islamic woodworks is never lost. Islamic regions though may differ from the other in terms of tradition or customs, shares the same passion for woodworks in terms of its techniques, materials and workmanship.
Muslim craftsmen lavished special care on wood, which in many areas was very scarce. In addition to a shortage of timber, woodworkers have often operated in climates that cause warping and shrinkage. Thus they developed an unrivalled expertise, combining different types of wood with other precious materials, including ivory and mother-of-pearl.
Intricate details, geometrical forms, high and low relief decorations as well as the use of luxury items such as ivory, tortoiseshell and mother of pearl were part of the workmanship. Muslim woodworkers developed advanced techniques of wood carving and decorating, such as lattice-work, bevelling and relief carving which produced stunning pieces greatly sought by neighbouring and far-off regions. The versatility of wood traversed a wide range of usage, from wall decoration, ceiling and door carvings, to adorned combs, jewel and apothecary boxes and window panels.
The virtuosity of Muslim woodcarvers created a legacy that was prized in more than just the Islamic world. Their skills were sought by European princes and Popes. Centuries after Spain had ceased to be part of Islam, Spanish craftsmen were reproducing the designs of a bygone Islamic era. It was boxes that were the main preoccupation. These continued to use the intricate patterns of the Islamic past and frequently went so far as to include inscriptions such as “There is no god but God”.
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