The conception of God on the Ornament and decoration on islamic art
Sep 27, 2008 03:04 PM
by Raquel Rodríguez
To all readers
I found this article on Internet
it was in Spanish and I have tried to translated for you, anyway just the part I thought to be the most interesting.
I hope is intelligible
R.H. Shamsuddín Elía
To the Muslim artist, or so to speak, to the craftier that has to decorate a surface, the geometrical arabesques [inter-weaved], is with no doubt the most satisfying to his intellect, as a direct expression of the Divine Unity which is behind the endless variation of the world.
It is Truth that Divine Unity is beyond any representation, as it´s nature witch is absolute, leaves nothing outside of itself, nothing accompanies it. Nevertheless it is reflected in the world through harmony, witch is but the Unity of multiplicity (al-katrab fi'l-uahdah). The arabesque express as much an aspect as the other. Moreover it still has another facet witch evokes the existence of unity behind all things; the arabesque usually has a single element: a sole rope a unique line, that turns incessantly over itself.
("El Arte del Islam", José J. de Olañeta, Palma de Mallorca, 1988, pág. 66).
Examples of arabesques can be seen at
Titus Buckhardt (1908-1984)
Ornamentation plays a very important role in Islamic art. It is one of the unifying factors that, along fourting centuries has linked building and objects from all the Islamic world through an enormous geographical extension, from Spain until India. In the IX century in the House of Wisdom of Baghdad, two prestigious saviours, translated two Greek books which became fundamental to Islamic civilization. "The Almagesto" from Claudio Ptlomeo and "The Elements", from Euclides. The first, an astronomy treatise it learned them to get orientated by the stars and the second, a Geometry book -the most translated along the history after the Bible- to make draws from any part on the earth, pointing on the direction of The Mecca. So, Mathematics where the most important and necessary science from the very first moment. Muslims studied them and dominated them better than many folks, turning it in to a graphic language to represent God and its Kingdom -The Kingdom
of Heavens- in an abstract way, through the use of geometric forms.
It surprising, as an example, the investigation carried on by the doctor Darío Cabanelas Rodríguez, Arab professor from the Language University of Granada, about the secret concealed at the ceiling of the Comares Palace Tower in la Alhambra in Granada. Being the name of this room a corruption from the Arab qam al-arsh, "Throne´s camera" inspired in the sura 67 from the Sacred Coran called al-Mulk, "The Kingdom. The magnificent Spanish islamologist discovering is to have demonstrated that the 105 arabesques spreaded throughout the ceiling is a progresive geometry, following the Pythagorean canons so wonderfully assimilated by granadian Muslims, come from the 105 elements that constitute the key star at the center of the vault which represents the Seven Heavens. As a matter of fact 105 represents the six pointed stat ( in pythagorean sum) David´s star (an ornamental motive used by muslims before Jews: cfr. Erna S. Schlesinger: Mil preguntas y
respuestas sobre Judaísmo, S. Sigal, Buenos Aires, 1966, pág. 21), the two inverted triangles, the fire and water of creation corresponds to the symbol of the Divinity that the key star represents, framed in the smaller cupola ( the last three Heavens) the Throne of God: (cfr. Darío Cabanelas: La antigua policromía del techo de Comares en la Alhambra, Revista Al-Ándalus, vol. XXXV, fasc. 2, Granada, 1970).
A fundamental characteristic of geometric design is the use of a single pattern-which will be the unity of any decorative composition-which by multiplication of itself, covers completely a surface. This way of proceeding permits to decorate over a surface indefinitely just by following fix rules. In this way Unity is represented-God is one-amongst the multiplicity_- and is everywhere-
The ceiling of Comares can be seen at
One of the first Islamic art scholars was the welsh architect Owen Jones (1809-1874), (...)
In his book the Grammar of Ornament (London 1856) shows his admiration for the andalusí architectonic conception:
"We find in La Alhambra the speaking art of the Egyptians, the natural grace and refinement of the Greeks, the Geometrical combinations of the Romans, the Byzantines and The Arabs (...)
The Moors ever regarded what we hold to be the first principle in architecture- to decorate construction, never to construct decoration: In Moorish architecture not only the decoration does arise naturally form the construction, but the constructive idea is carried out in every detail of the ornamentation of the surface.
We believe that true beauty in architecture results from that "repose which the mind feels when the eye, the intellect and the affections are satisfied, from the absence of any want." (...) They ever regarded the useful as a vehicle for the beautifull; (...)
This book can be read at, althougth I did not read it myself I think apart of the understanding of architecture the anthroposophical ideas of the writer won't be very close to Theosophical ones
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