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The religion of Islam was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad in the early 7th century.Muhammad was a political leader as well as a religious guide, and after his death in 632, his successors established a vast empire.The tiny rock crystal flask in the shape of a fish may originally have held a precious perfume.It is believed to have been made in Egypt, where rock crystal was used to make precious possessions for the ruling dynasty, the Fatimids (969–1171).These objects were given as precious gifts to church treasuries where they sometimes stored holy relics.One reason why some types of medieval Islamic objects survive at all is precisely through their reuse in Christian contexts.Instead, decoration was concentrated in the silver-gilt mounts, which here feature Gothic ornaments in the most fashionable style.European admiration for sophisticated Islamic wares led to their imitation.
Until the 14th century, objects in rock crystal were imported into Europe ready-made from the Islamic world.
Naturally-occurring rock crystals were used by craftsmen from Iraq and Egypt to make objects of supreme beauty and elegance.
Objects like the Egyptian ewer were made to be royal possessions of the Fatimid rulers of Egypt (969–1171).
Muslim-ruled countries like southern Spain, Turkey and Egypt, produced fine carpets which were exported to Europe from the 14th century.
They were sought after as luxurious furnishings in palaces and churches, and their high status is shown by the many European paintings in which they are prominently depicted.By conquest and conversion, the new religion spread quickly westwards through the territories of the Byzantine empire.By the 640s, Muslim forces were advancing across North Africa, conquering Sicily in 652 and the Iberian Peninsula in 711.In fact some types of Turkish carpet are sometimes known after the 16th-century European painters who included them in their paintings, such as Hans Holbein (about 1497–1543) and Lorenzo Lotto (about 1480–1556).