Geometric ornaments are currently very much en vogue. You can see them everywhere: in fashion, in interior design on wallpaper, carpets and fabrics, and even on buildings. Geometric ornaments (from the Latin ornare „decorate, adorn“) are repetitive, abstract patterns. Especially in Islamic art there are infinitive variations of geometric ornaments. But also in other cultures, surfaces with geometric patterns are developed and used.
Mirror symmetry in Islamic art
Islamic geometric patterns consist of repeating, polygonal or circular partial areas. The patterns are interwoven and overlap. In this way complicated patterns are created. Once they have been developed, the patterns can be continued indefinitely. Mirror symmetry is particularly important in Islamic pattern formation. Geometric elements have mirror symmetries both in the horizontal and in the vertical axis.
Why do Islamic artists always use geometric ornaments? Perhaps you know that in Islam there is a strict ban on images of people and animals. Because of this prohibition, Islamic art concentrates especially on decorative writing (calligraphy) and geometric patterns.
Geometric basic forms
The circle is the simplest basic geometric form. Pentagons, hexagons and octagons are constructed on its basis. patterns are constructed from these circles and polygons In Islamic art. In the play of complex symmetries, they are reflected and in rotation to each other they fill a surface. Moreover, these geometric forms can also be found on ceramics. Plates, bowls and vases with their basic shape of a circle are very suitable for radial or tangential patterns.
Moroccan zellij tiles with geometric patterns are also modern on house fronts and in interior design. They are omnipresent in Portugal as a Moorish heritage and are called azulejos there. When I bought a new kitchen last year, I chose floor tiles in the azulejos style. The result is overwhelming.
Together with floral arabesques (stylish leaf vine ornaments) and calligraphic inscriptions, geometric ornaments are still characteristic of Islamic art today. I will tell you more about it in another blog article.