Islamic architecture of the Middle East
Videos on offer in the Jameel Gallery
This series of short videos was created for visitors to the Islamic Middle East gallery (Room 42) at the V&A. The videos show some of the great historical buildings of the Islamic period. This is the architectural setting for which many of the objects on display in the gallery were made.
The Islamic period began with the rapid rise of Islam in the 7th century AD. The religion's founder, the Prophet Muhammad, was a political leader as well as a religious guide, and after his death in 632, his successors established a vast empire. By 750 it stretched from Spain and Morocco in the west to Central Asia and Afghanistan in the east. Two hundred years later this single Islamic empire had been replaced by a number of competing states. Despite their rivalries, the Muslim rulers of the time shared many ideas on culture and politics, as well as religion. This common Islamic heritage was maintained until the 1920s.
The videos show both secular and religious architecture from this long period. The first sequence, Three Palaces, shows surviving residences of Islamic rulers in Spain, Turkey and Iran. The subject of the second sequence, Mosques of the Middle East, is places of worship in Syria, Iran, Turkey and Egypt. The last of these short films, recorded in the mosque of Sultan Hasan in Cairo, shows worshippers gathering for the midday prayer on Friday, the main service of the week. It reminds us that Islamic art and architecture are still part of everyday life for an important part of the world's population.