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Pattern in Islamic Art
August 6, 2009 8:15 PM   Subscribe

Pattern in Islamic Art - thousands of high quality, free pictures of various motifs, patterns and architectural elements of mosques and other structures from Asia to West Africa.

Also includes thorough analysis of some of the geometric elements, and historical context.

Previously (1) (2)

Islamic Geometry

Quasicrystalline theory of the tiled patterns.
posted by Burhanistan (31 comments total) 110 users marked this as a favorite

 
Islamic Star Patterns
posted by Burhanistan at 8:36 PM on August 6, 2009


To save this from being one of those FPPs which has 150 favourites but no comments, I wish to declare here that this is awesome and I will now spend the rest of my afternoon browsing and doodling these patterns.

Thank you.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 8:37 PM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Some businesses now requre an "approved" background wallpaper...but I doubt any would object to this. Awesome post...HR-wise and beauty-wise.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:43 PM on August 6, 2009


Thank you. My mother has been making some Islamic-inspired mosaics recently, she should love this.
posted by clorox at 8:57 PM on August 6, 2009


Wonderful, sprawling, gorgeous, informative find. Thanks.
posted by mediareport at 9:11 PM on August 6, 2009


Wow! Thank you!
posted by rtha at 9:14 PM on August 6, 2009


For fans of Islamic architecture, there is a comprehensive free community called archnet that has documented thousands of buildings.
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 9:21 PM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, wow, I love the analysis section. When the patterns are stripped down to their constitutive lines like this I am even more impressed by them. How do you make something so wildly ornate out of only a few shapes.

That part reminds me of reading about quilt design. These patterns are about a million times more complicated than I could ever commit to fabric, though!
posted by bewilderbeast at 9:21 PM on August 6, 2009


Nice one, ta.
posted by pompomtom at 9:27 PM on August 6, 2009


Brilliant. Thanks Burhanistan.
posted by nickyskye at 9:49 PM on August 6, 2009


Wow wow wow wow.

Thank you for posting this.
posted by dipping_sauce at 10:04 PM on August 6, 2009


Cracking stuff. I'm planning a trip across the 'stans next year, things like this are a big reason why..
posted by the duck by the oboe at 10:05 PM on August 6, 2009


If you're in London, drop in to the Victoria and Albert Museum, where they have a fine collection of drawings by Owen Jones, who wrote The Grammar of Ornament (available free viewing at the link), which covers a lot of Islamic patterns. More about Jones here (Wikipedia).
posted by awfurby at 10:48 PM on August 6, 2009


excellent post.

and thanks awfurby for that link to illuminated-books.
posted by bilgepump at 10:57 PM on August 6, 2009


Islamic tiling has produced undeniably beautiful patterns, but I don't really believe that quasicrystals have anything to do with it. Do you have more convincing links?
posted by twoleftfeet at 11:07 PM on August 6, 2009


Do you have more convincing links?

It's a concept that I just learned of today while adding some ancillary links to the main site in the post. But here is the original published paper and supporting material (both links are PDF files) from Harvard research fellow (subject of the NPR piece) Peter Lu.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:16 PM on August 6, 2009


Burhanistan, what's the book and the scroll they're referring to in the NPR piece?

"... and she, like many Harvard professors said, well start and read my book, and so I did". The book taught Lu about a 15th Century scroll, it's a rare window into how Islamic artists did their work - they normally hid their trade secrets - this scroll is like an instruction manual, it has panels that outline many different geometric designs.
posted by exhilaration at 11:31 PM on August 6, 2009


This is lovely. I was planning an Islamic-influenced pattern for my next embroidery project once my Christmas presents are out the way.
posted by mippy at 1:53 AM on August 7, 2009


What's the book and the scroll they're referring to in the NPR piece?

It's The Topkapi Scroll, by Gulru Necipoglu.
posted by awenner at 1:59 AM on August 7, 2009


awenner has it.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:41 AM on August 7, 2009


I like the post, but I'm not sure why tilework from a Christian church predating regional conversion/conquest is considered Islamic. Would the Pantheon be considered Christian simply because the majority of modern Romans are Christians or because post-conversion styles were patterned on it? This raises a lot of further questions for me. Would a neo-classical church be considered Christian art? How about secular structures?
posted by Pollomacho at 9:19 AM on August 7, 2009


Now, this. This is the best of the web. An invaluable resource. Great post.
posted by barrett caulk at 9:31 AM on August 7, 2009


I'm not sure why tilework from a Christian church predating regional conversion/conquest is considered Islamic.

Which church are you referring to?
posted by Burhanistan at 9:39 AM on August 7, 2009


The Church of St. John the Baptist aka the Umayyad Mosque
posted by Pollomacho at 11:34 AM on August 7, 2009


The Church of St. John the Baptist aka the Umayyad Mosque

Sorry, I don't follow. The structure that is there now, unlike the Hagia Sophia, has always been a mosque since the demolition of the church in the early 8th century.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:51 PM on August 7, 2009


This is just wonderful, thank you for posting it.
posted by vespertine at 12:47 AM on August 8, 2009


Here's a little Flash applet that lets you build your own Penrose shapes.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:47 PM on August 9, 2009


Sorry, I don't follow. The structure that is there now, unlike the Hagia Sophia, has always been a mosque since the demolition of the church in the early 8th century.

I've read that wiki page too, but I don't believe it is quite accurate. I don't think Arab Muslims did much writing in Greek or used first millenia Christian symbology in their 8th century architecture, but the Umayyad is covered in both.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:29 AM on August 10, 2009


Perhaps this source will satisfy, Pollomacho, as it appears to be a well-researched history by an acknowledged expert in the field. He may discuss the use of Greek and the Christian symbolism in the book (I haven't read the whole thing), but in the first few paragraphs it's quite clear that the church that was on the site was knocked down and the mosque built in its place.
posted by rtha at 6:01 AM on August 10, 2009


Thanks for the link, rtha

Pollomacho, where is the Umayyad Mosque "covered" in Greek writing or Christian symbology? Even if it was, that doesn't concern the geometric patterns that are the main focus of the linked site.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:44 AM on August 10, 2009


The old church was clearly incorporated into the mosque not completely knocked down. Look at the pictures again. If you compare them with pictures of contemporary buildings such as those in the dead cities you can see where whole sections of the church were used in the mosque.

Check out this shot, why would the builders make a window on the side of the central structure only to half cover it diagonally with a roof? Why tear down an early Byzantine style church structure and then build a replica of an early Byzantine church structure in the center of an overall mosque complex built in a different style?

There are also pieces of the old temples to Zeus and Baal at the site, but the church chunks are even more apparent. Check out the shadows of leftover hellenic structures in this picture for example.

So, who cares anyway? Nobody. I'm just wondering why they lump it all in under the heading "Islamic" when it may not necessarily have to do with Islam or the style predates Islam. The collection is fantastic, it's just the use of the term that makes me wonder.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:11 AM on August 10, 2009


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