|An interior detail of the new Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi, photo by Imran Akram|
|A plate from|
My fascination with Arabesque ornament... may have begun in Prague many years ago, when I first saw the Španělské Synagogy "Spanish Synagogue", built in 1868 in the Moorish Revival style. Inside it is completely covered in geometric Arabesque designs. Seeing the architectural ornamentation on such a scale made me want to run home and encrust every surface I could find with pattern.
Arabesque art developed in regions where Islam has been dominant; such as Morocco, Moorish Spain, India, Turkey, and the Arab states; and embodies Muslim precepts in its themes, with the focus on patterns rather than on figures. The depiction of the human form is forbidden, considered too close to idolatry, and so the art tends to be decorative and ornamental in style - geometric, floral, calligraphy.
The style has inspired and influenced non-Islamic ornament and architecture in Europe and elsewhere, particularly in the 19th century with the trend towards in Orientalism in design, and romantic "revival" styles of architecture.
|Kevin Dean's inlaid marble floor at the magnificent Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi, photo by Imran Akram|
|"Islam Ornament" (mosaic ceilings) photographed in Pakistan by Judith Barath|
|original painted and gilt arabesque ceiling by Tania Seabock|
How envious I am of my friend and colleague Tania Seabock, for this incredible ceiling she created for a client in the arabesque style, which includes tens of thousands of gold faux mosaic tiles!
I have a room set aside for my own spin on arabesque ornament, and look forward to sharing my inspiration and progress.
Some internet resources:
New York Public Library Digital Gallery
Islamic Art photo set by Flickr member Sir Cam
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia
IAAO: Islamic Arts and Architecture
Some recommended books on Arabesque ornament:
The Majesty of Mughal Decoration: The Art and Architecture of Islamic India
The Art of the Islamic Tile
Ipek: The Crescent & the Rose: Imperial Ottoman Silks and Velvets
Iznik: The Artistry of Ottoman Ceramics
Islamic Art in Detail
Arabic Art in Color (Dover Pictorial Archive Series)