Honour and Fleming have sought to distinguish Islamic architecture from Western classicism by suggesting that the Moslem architects" "interest in structural problems would seem to have been primarily intellectual; their appreciation of architecture to be focused on the decorative and the ornamental." Do you agree with the separation between structure and ornament in Islamic architecture that is suggested here? Examine two Islamic buildings - one early, one late - in the formulation of your response.
The surface decoration, the structural elements and the casting of the internals lend to the idea of the Islamic Mosque, (a common example of Islamic architecture) being a complex and sophisticated form of architecture. However, this is not really the case. The Islamic mosque is generally simple in design and architecture. This simplicity in structural design is evident in the Great Mosque of Cordoba and the Taj Mahal in Agra. Decoration and structure play an important role that is interrelated throughout the above mentioned structures forming the perception of highly crafted and sophisticated construction. "The Taj Mahal perfectly exemplifies a combination of arches and squinches of different type and scale for structural and decorative purposes." .
"The role of decoration is central to any analysis of Islamic art: it is one of the unifying factors that, for 13 centuries, have linked buildings and objects from all over the Islamic world." With the spread of Islam outward from the Arabian Peninsula in the seventh century, the associated artistic traditions of the newly conquered lands deeply influenced the development of Islamic art and architecture. This can be observed by closely examining the ornamentation and architecture of the Great Mosque of Cordoba, where it is evident that a variety of techniques were borrowed from the arts of these conquered countries. The themes and motifs of the ornamentation can be divided into three major groups.