DÉCOR

Article by Alia Elbarbari

Islamic Geometric Patterns

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Islamic Geometric Patterns around the world

We will take you on a journey through the basic geometric operations that underline the dazzling array of patterns seen in both public and private buildings throughout the Islamic world.

The sophisticated use of abstraction emerged during the early centuries of Islam, concurrently with advances in science and mathematics.

Conceptual Roots

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Basic Geometric Shapes by hand

The most complex designs in Islamic Architecture & Decor can be created from two simple hand-held drawing tools: a compass and a straight-edge. Most patterns split the circle into four, five, or six segments of equal size, and then overlay a grid that remains invisible except to the designer.

Tessellation

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Basic Geometric Shapes by hand

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Tessellation Application

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The grid keeps the pattern accurate over a larger surface and facilitates the invention of dazzling new configurations consisting of repeating tiles. This is nothing less than the art of tessellation, in which the possibilities are virtually endless.

Religious Roots

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Tessellation Application

Geometric patterns served important symbolic functions. The proliferation of arabesque abstract decoration enhances a quality that could only be attributed to God, namely, His irrational infinity.

The pattern of the arabesque, without a beginning or an end, portrays this sense of infinity, and is the best means to describe in art the doctrine of tawhid, or Divine Unity.