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M.Besant E.Walter
Jerusalem, the city of Herod and Saladin

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M.Besant E.Walter
Jerusalem, the city of Herod and Saladin
page 98



produced and neglected, they seized upon and made their own. Born in the black shapeless " tents of Shem," and nursed amidst monotonous scenery, the Arabs could conceive no grander structure than the massive tetragonal Ka'abah ; but Persia was made to supply them with the graceful forms and harmonious colours suggested by the flower-gardens of Iran. * The art of painting, cultivated with so much success in Persia even at the present day, found but little favour with the iconoclast followers of Mohammed ; but its influence is seen in the perfection to which mural decoration, writing, and illumination have been brought by the professors of Islam. Caligraphy has been cultivated in the East to an extent which can be scarcely conceived in this country; and the rules which govern that science are, though more precise, founded on aesthetic principles as correct as those of fine art-criticism here. A people whose hereditary occupation was war and plunder, and who looked upon commerce as a degrading and slavish pursuit, were not likely to make much progress, even in simple arithmetic ; yet, when it was no longer a mere question of dividing the spoils of a caravan, but of administering the revenues and regulating the frontiers of conquered countries, then the Saracens both appreciated and employed the exact mathematical sciences of India. " The Arabs' registers are the verses of their bards," was the motto of their Bedawin forefathers, but the rude lays of border-warfare and pastoral life were soon found un suited to their more refined ideas ; while even the •culti vation of their own rich and complex language was insufficient to .satisfy their literary taste and craving for intellectual exercise. Persia therefore was again called * Nearly all the technical terms used in Arab architecture are Persian—an additional proof that the so-called Saracenic style is of foreign and not native origin.


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