classical Islamic Art, ornamentation has such a significant value that
it can be seen in every artistic expression from the carved marble
panels of grand Mughal doorways in India, to the elegant blue ceramic
tiles of Masjids in Iran, to the tiniest of decorative artefacts in
- its style, composition and principles can be found in virtually
every objet d'art of classical Islam.
and Development of Arabesque
to the dissuasion of representation of human and, at times, animal
rendition in Islamic Art, other depictions of art emerged which
evolved into highly stylized renditions of subjects like foliage,
flowers and an extensive use of abstract geometric designs. One can
find the principles of geometry along with a keen sense of balance in
composition strongly embedded in Islamic art.
single most important factor that influenced the creation and
evolution of Islamic Art is the Qur'an itself. One can find many
verses in the Qur'an mentioning the beauty and abundance of Paradise
with its exquisite gardens beneath which rivers flow. Thus, depiction of foliage in its varied forms became a very
prominent feature of Arabesque art. One can visualise a strong link
between art and nature in Islamic monuments where scrolling vines,
surreal flowers and gracefully flowing leaves can be seen everywhere
from the decoration of Qur'anic manuscripts to the grandiosity of
architectural monuments. Such art does seem to evoke a feeling of
heavenly grandeur although it is not a direct depiction of heaven.
while Islamic design has a decorative expression, it also conveys a
much deeper meaning of a higher reality.
Art and Science of Arabesque
with flora, geometry has always had a strong presence as well. There
are many factors that contribute to its growth - one is that Islam and
science were never seen as two separate subjects. From the Islamic
viewpoint, geometry is one of the streams that flows from the
Fountainhead of Islam. This belief that science is an integral part of
Islam led to many discoveries and advancements in the field of
mathematics by Muslims.
had a very rich influence in Islamic Art which beautifully combined
artistic foliage designs with geometric principles to create exquisite
works of art unique only to the Islamic Cultural heritage.
ornamentation has been rendered in almost every media known to Muslim
Artists and Artisans - like ceramic tiles, brickwork, metalwork,
stucco, stonework, mosaic, and of course marble inlays. Among these
all, ceramic tiles emerged as the most outstanding medium of them
networks of fascinating geometric compositions interlaced with the
delicateness of almost surreal foliage ornamentation has a unique
abstract quality found only in Islamic Art. Enriched by the purity of
vivid colours, ceramic artwork invigorates the beholder's visual
senses beyond the material reality.
times, combination of various materials also played an important role
in further highlighting the Arabesque. An appropriate example would be
the aesthetic combination of Sandstone and marble inlay in
feature that is unique to the Shi'a branch of Islam is the use of
mirrors in the ornamentation of the interior architecture of holy
places. A dazzling arrangement of tiny pieces of mirrors using complex
principles of geometry in three dimensional inlays, usually decorates
the domed ceilings and walls of mausoleums of the Holy Ahlul Bayt.
This gives the place an almost celestial feeling. It is also a symbol
of purity of the Holy Ahlul Bayt (Qur'an 33:33).
Islamic Art emerged with a unique blend of various qualities of
aesthetics, science, philosophy, and symbolism. It is the epitome of
what can be described nowadays as conceptual art.
Influence in Islamic Design
arabesque has strong roots in the Arab rendition of art, it does show
a much wider flavour of regional influence. For example, traditional
arabesque relating to the predominant
Arab world has a much more realistic style as compared to the highly
stylized Persian or Mughal styles.
Iranian art, one can see the extensive use of a dynamic ceramic blue
colour as well as a much finer and delicate brushwork. Mughal art has
quite beautifully synthesized traditional Indian and Islamic artistic
principles and evolved into a very unique style of its own.
reason why Arabesque gained as much significance and popularity
throughout the Islamic world is mainly because it has flexibly evolved
and flourished regionally, while still retaining its original
Author: Siddiqua Shahnawaz
Hj Nurzaynab El-Fatah
Production: Hj S. Abidin
19th February, 2003
13th January 2009/ 16th Muharram, 1430
Publication ID: 03arabEsque. Arabesque
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