Art Culture > History > The Culture of Fashion: Mosaics Date posted: October 9, 2013

The Culture
of Fashion:
Mosaics

The highly intricate yet rewarding art of mosaics is one of the most ancient decorating crafts, which still make us marvel today. The Culture of Fashion: Mosaics

The origins of mosaics are unclear though the earliest known examples were found at a temple building in Abra, Mesopotamia dating back to the second half of 3rd millennium BC. They consist of pieces of coloured stones, shells and ivory. The first examples of glazed tiles being used in mosaics were found at excavations at Susa and Chogha Sanbil from around 1500 BC.

Mosaics became more widely used in the Greek and Roman empires, with the classical Greek style beginning to form in the 3rd century BC. This consisted of mythological subjects, or scenes of hunting or other pursuits of the wealthy, were popular as the centrepieces of a larger geometric design, with strongly emphasized borders.

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Ancient Roman Mosaics at Villa Romana La Olmenda

In continuation of the art of mosaics, the Romans, whose culture fused with the Greeks further developed the art, using it to adorn private villas like the Villa Olmeda in Spain, Villa Romana del Casale in Rome but also Leptis Magna in Libya and the masterpieces known ad the Alexander Mosaic in Pompeii.

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Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna

Mosaics in Italy though really came into their won in the 5th Century, when the Byzantines declared Ravenna the capital of the Western Roman Empire. Trye masters of the art, some of the most beautiful mosaics in the world are attributed to this ancient people. With unique monuments like the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, the Basilica of San Vital and the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna is the go to place to see beautifully kept Byzantine mosaics.

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The Dolce&Gabbana Fall Winter 2014 Collection- view the gallery

There is however another location to marvel at mosaics in Italy and that is Sicily. Though the heyday of the rat was under the Norman influence in the 12th century, the works of art in the Monreale Cathedral, which inspired the Dolce&Gabbana Fall Winter 2014 collection are truly magnificent.

hagia-sofia-mosaic-virgin-and-childThere are many examples of beautiful mosaics within the Orthodox Church, queen amongst which Hagia Sophia in Instanbul. The church of Saint Sophia was built by Costantine as a bastion of Christianity and still today it is celebrated as a cathedral of the Christian religion and a place of great cultural significance, as well as beauty.

Due to the geographical location of many early mosaics, as well as the merging of cultures through time it is unsurprising that mosaics are also part of the Middle Eastern tradition both Judaism and Islam. With the first mosaics being found in Mesopotamia, and later the Greek and Roman examples in North Africa, it is only natural that this art may have permeated all cultures and religions.

Jerusalem is rich in beautiful mosaics which decorate some of the most important Synagogues of all ages, and the same stands for Mosques. The Dome of Rock for example, also in Jerusalem, and one of the most important buildings of the Islamic religion is decorated with intricate mosaics of the Byzantine period.

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Virgin and Child

Mosaics have been adopted by Islam in religious and cultural building and they afford great intricacy and beauty even with their traditional abstract art, as the religion forbids humans to be portrayed.

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Mosaics perhaps are some of the longest living art forms, ones which for their beauty and intricacy had crossed the borders of countries, cultures and religion uniting everyone with their magnificence and inspiration.

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