Fine And Decorative Arts In Hejaz Jeddah
Fine and Decorative Arts and architecture in Hejaz west region in Saudi Arabia borrows heavily from the Islamic architecture. This stems from the fact that it has a major influence from numerous Muslims who visit Mecca and medina from time to time. As a holy place the fine and decorative art has to reflect spiritual aspects which unites all Muslims. In addition, Islamic culture is very diverse and so the architecture and art symbolically and emblematically represents something unique in Islam. In Saudi Arabia the decorative art and Islamic architecture is mostly used to represent a culture of the region but also embraces the mentality and inspiration of other Muslims around the globe. Particularly, in Hejaz there are a large number of foreign immigrants from Mecca. these immigrants comes to Hejaz through Jeddah which is the chief port of entry and they greatly impact on the fine and decorative art as they come up with their own way of Graphic Arts ,Painting and sculpture , as well as the rich variety of folk art in weaving. By so doing they interact with the locals to learn and teach them on how artistic and architecture skills. Moreover, these Muslims architecture plays a huge role on influencing the architecture of Hejaz and so the decoration and fine art has to be changed from the former traditional way to make meaning by encompassing all Islamic art from pilgrims and the immigrants (Bloom & Blair, 2009)
The Islamic architecture uses both secular and religious styles. They use the styles in mosques, tombs palace and the fort among others. The origin of the Islamic architecture can be linked to the already existing structures in Persian, Roman and Byzantine arts which mean that the Muslims borrow heavily from each other. Therefore, the art and architecture of Saudi Arabia heavily borrows from these earlier traditions and the Islamic influence. Islamic people express themselves using fine and decorative art as part of aesthetic expression. Particularly in Saudi Arabia they express themselves using the Arabian Peninsula fine and decorative art as their place of origin. In the fine and decorative art they use color to mean something and it is a main factor in the Hejaz region of Saudi Arabia. They mainly use the colors such as blue, white, green, and brown among others that they get from the environment to mean and create a very meaningful expression (Bloom & Blair, 2009). For example, blue color comes from the sea color; brown from the color of the wood, green is part of their flag which representing peace and white comes from the coral reef. They use these colors and others in the color scheme especially in the main buildings to decorate and give meaning to the people as well as attract others.
Precisely, in Saudi Arabia woodwork and plaster decoration are the elements mostly used in buildings for floor and wall decorations. In addition, the geometric shapes, calligraphy and the Islamic patterns mark the fine and decorative aspects of the region. In the window of most buildings the wooden pattern is mostly used; it is also used in the doors and for decorating the plaster to create harmony and for quality purposes. The geometric shapes are very essential for they have good decorative elements and they help to form symmetrical images which help the artist to balance the color for perfect and quality expressions. Clay and wood are common in Islamic world of art but in Hejaz they mostly use wood and they curve them artistically, decorate them magnificently and they use them to create patterns for windows, doors, and wooden walls among others.
Calligraphy is the most form of the Muslim visual art and it also has a spiritual meaning. Calligraphy is the art of beautiful writing found in Hejaz region and other Islamic parts. It permeate the Islamic visual culture and is found in everything be it mosque, school, palace, dishes, bowls and beakers just to mention but a few (Bloom & Blair, 2009). Calligraphy is considered spiritual in Hejaz for Muslims belief that it is used in the Quran as Mohammed used it to write down what Allah dictated to him.
In addition, the Islamic pottery as a fine art is found in different scenes as people and animals engaging in various activities. The pottery and other decorations are either symbolic or emblematic or just decorative. In Hejaz, most of the Islamic art are decorated with plants, leaves, stems and flowers. The Islam’s ensures that the vegetal decoration grows according to the law of geometry and not the law of nature. Hence in their decoration the stems are scrolled symmetrically and they are made to look regular around the leaves which are space evenly or the evenly spaced flowers. This kind of decorations is known as arabesque in Saud Arabia and Hejaz. Some of the decorations acts as reminisce of Umayyad, Fatimid, Ghaznavid, Timurid and Safavid to Mamluk and Ottoman as a kind of Islamic art illustrating history (Bloom & Blair, 2009)
Hejaz is also known as the Al-Hejaz and it means barrier in Arabic and it is located in the western region of what is currently known as Saudi Arabia. On it west it is bordered by the Red Sea, Jordan on the north, Nejd on the East and the Asir on the south. The main city of Hejaz is Jeddah, and it is the main entrance to Mecca and Medina (Islamic holy cities) which makes it better known. Because it is the site for the Islamic holy places Hejaz is very crucial for it plays a very vital role in the historical and political landscape of the Arabs and the Islamic. The people of Hejaz are mainly alienated by their place of origin and so they experience a lot of tension for the people of Najd. Hejaz people do not by any chance embrace the Saudi and Wahhabi rule for they consider themselves cosmopolitan and liberal than the Najd people. History has it that Mecca and Medina has made the region of Hejaz to undergo various empires. It was controlled by regional powers the like of Egypt and the Ottoman Empire and it was lucky to secure its political independence though briefly in the twentieth century. This is because the Arab Revolt after throwing the Ottoman Empire in the year 1924 united the region by creating two kingdoms known as the Hejaz and the Nejd and at a much later date created the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This did not solve the tension between the People of Hejaz and the Nejd people and the Hejaz people feel superior for they feel their identity is very articulated that any other people in the region for they are so connected to the Holy places (Mecca and Medina). To be precise, the timeline of Jeddah ranges from pre-Islam to Rashdiun Caliphate, Fatimid Caliphate, Ayyubid Empire then Mamluk sultanate, and Ottoman Empire as well. And these eras influenced Hejaz region in terms of culture, design, and their way of living (Mauger, 2000).
The Architectural history of Saudi Arabia and the region of Hejaz in particular has undergone a lot of phases in because it started to establish itself a long time ago. In addition, Jeddah residents are a multi ethnic mixture and this has had a major impact on Jeddah’s traditional culture. In 600s the structures were just houses which were built using the locally available material such as the limestone, coral, and clay. When the Islam started to appear in the region and especially in Hejaz region they began to modify and change the structures and they built the well known and impressive mosques and especially in Mecca and Medina. For instance, in 700s the Islamic architecture emerged with the Umayyad rulers who established a remarkable mosque in Medina. Though this mosque is not there currently ti was a source of great inspiration for it was so outstanding and it impacted so much on the other artists on how to build other mosques. This was because it was made using a hypostyle- consisting of a great number of columns which held a large roof. In addition, this first mosque had a Mihrab and now it is found in every single mosque in the region. In addition Jeddah continues to hold on its traditions of exuberant decoration expressed through ornamental stonework and brilliantly colored exterior and interior murals (Mauger, 2000).
From 700s it can be said that there is architecture stagnation in Saud Arabia because there has been no unified architectural movement. This can be attributed to the foreign rule which makes it hard to build more monumental structures due to the tension. The mosques continue to take the former as discussed above and the houses have not much different from the mosque for they take the same shape. Nevertheless, the modern day mosques and houses are built with different materials apart from the clay, coral and limestone the traditional materials of the 600s. Hejaz and in particular Jeddah city has strong and ancient urban traditions and this influenced the architectural aspects. Nevertheless, this does not necessarily mean that they did not accept the modernization for it is clear that there was a great transformation and new cities emerged depending on how the automobiles were used. Mosques can be found within a walking distance within the city (Mauger, 2000). They were also able to accept the mixture of Islamic cultures who met at Mecca and Medina at least once a year and so the architectural aspects continue to change and become modernized on every occasion.
Moreover, great discovery emerged in the Hejaz (Jeddah) and the country at large in the 1900s. This was brought by the fact that the country was unified and the discovery of oil brought a great wealth. After this the modern structures were built and they were much easier to construct than the historical constructions of the Hejaz and other people. The modern technology helped the architectures to use the materials and the machines of the industrial revolution such as the concrete, crane and steel. Just to mention, the Riyadh International airport is one of these impressive modern building (Mauger, 2000).