Sunday, 23 February 2014

Brief 16 : Femfresh : Islamic flower patterns

Geometry – The Language of Symmetry in Islamic Art

by Richard Henry

Throughout the ages mystics & theologians have used geometry as a contemplative focus, as it enables the viewer a vision of the underyling order of both the cosmos and the natural world . The cyclical movement of heavenly bodies, which Plato described as the ‘music of the spheres’, finds its Earthly reflection in the natural symmetries found throughout nature and most strikingly within the world of flowers, the proportions of which are governed by simple geometric laws.

The origin of the word ‘cosmos’ is adornment (from which we derive the modern word ‘cosmetics’) and the adornment of sacred buildings with both floral and geometric patterns makes the viewer sensitive to the subtle harmonies uniting the natural world around us with the cosmos.

Biomorphic patterns in Islamic art – Tracing the origin

By Marina Alin

Main biomorphic motifs that were inherited by Islamic art from great pre-Islamic artistic traditions can be roughly divided into three groups: tree of life, islimi and flower rosettes. Tree of life is a depiction of a plant with a clear origin, sometimes with fruits and flowers on branches. Islimi pattern is a wavy line, often called ‘vine’, with stylized leaves often turned to spiral, sometimes with flowers, buds, and fruits. Flower rosette is a depiction of a stylized flower, initially in full blossom.

The origins of biomorphic patterns go back to an era of agricultural worship. Agricultural worship was born in the times of nomad settlement and was based on the idea of fertility. Fertility of nature and soil was widely praised and the emerging crops had become a symbol of life. Apart from sprouts there are other elements representing agricultural symbolism: water, nourishing seeded fields, and sky – the source of water, and sun, warming everything. These three elements of fertility were represented in art by wavy lines and circles. Later wavy lines gave way to islimi patterns decorated with leaves and flowers. Circles as solar signs representing the idea of moving – the sun travels in the sky each day and changes its way during the year – were enriched with radiuses to look like spinning wheels. These spinning wheels later developed to flower rosettes. The tree of life represented the idea of an Earth and Heaven connection and the idea of fertility at the same time.

Below are some examples of some islamic tiles I found during my research.


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