The Human Figure in Islamic Art

Holy Men, Princes, and Commoners


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ISBN: 9788792949967 Category:

Kjeld von Folsach, Joachim Meyer


This richly illustrated book focuses on an unusually and rarely elucidated subject in the world of Islamic art: human depictions.

Through seventy-five important works of Islamic art from the David Collection in Copenhagen, Denmark, The Human Figure in Islamic Art focuses on an unusually and rarely elucidated subject in the world of Islamic art: human depictions.

Depictions of man were considered objectionable from an orthodox Muslim point of view since only God can create life, and man should not try to emulate God’s work. There was concern that depictions or those who were depicted could be worshipped, something that went against the dogma that only God, Allah, should be the object of worship.

The book describes how, despite this reluctance, portraying human figures has nonetheless always played an important role in Islamic art. The human figure is found on many kinds of utility ware, but the motif also has a long and rich tradition especially in miniature painting. The paintings in the book largely feature princes, but also holy men and quite ordinary people in the form of illustrations for works of fiction, depictions of real-life events, and true portraits.

This richly illustrated book covers the use of the human figure in many of the forms of Islamic art and describes some of the historical conditions and theological discussions behind it. Light is also shed on the mutual influence of Islamic and European art.

Additional information

Weight 2173 g
Dimensions 25.2 x 31.4 cm
Publisher name Thames and Hudson Ltd
Publication date 1 November 2018
Number of pages 280
Format Hardback
Contributors Contributions by Jakob Skovgaard-Petersen
Dimensions 25.2 x 31.4 cm
Weight 2173 g


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Dr. Kjeld von Folsach is Director of the David Collection, Copenhagen, where Joachim Meyer, Ph.D., is Curator.