Geometric Patterns in Islamic Art

Visual Islamic Art excludes the depiction of realistic human and animal figures. Geometric patterns that transform one to another world often become the focus of attraction. Precise reasons for geometric pattern becoming so central in Islamic decoration remain intriguing to many minds. Predominance of aniconism within monotheistic Abrahamic religions could well be a clue towards an understanding of the prominence of such patterns.

While geometric patterns that are simple and pleasing to the viewer dominate Islamic art, calligraphy and the minimum usage of foliage patterns of the arabesque (Islamic biomorphic patterns are usually called arabesques) can be seen within private spaces of homes and palaces.

The need to defend the unique status of God’s position as the ultimate power holder against idols, which were seen as threat to the uniqueness, led to the spread of the practice of aniconic art.

Geometric patterns make up one of the major nonfigural types of decoration in Islamic art; other two being Calligraphy and subtle vegetal patterns. The extreme complexity of geometric patterns within Islamic art is generated from such simple forms as the circle and the square. These simple patterns are combined, duplicated, interlaced and arranged in intricate patterns extending almost infinitely.

Reiteration of Qur’an implies that the divine nature of God is experienced through the divine word. Therefore, the absence of icons within a mosque is justified. However, the words of Qur’an is often extensively depicted on the walls and ceilings of mosques, palaces and homes giving rise to the rich traditions of Islamic calligraphy as an elevated form of architectural decoration.

Calligraphy manages to combine a geometric discipline with a dynamic rhythm. In the Islamic world it takes the place of iconography, being widely used in the decorative schemes of buildings. Seen below is a benign wording written in Arabic.

Vegetal ‘arabesque’ compositions are as common in Islamic decoration as geometric patterns. Similar to the geometric patterns, these are found across a wide range of mediums from illustrations in books to plaster work both interior and exterior and even in carpets and textiles. Leaves and climbers are the closest one can find in this kind of art form as the depiction of any creation with a soul is forbidden.

The basic shapes, or “repeat units,” from which the more complicated patterns are constructed are: circles and interlaced circles; squares or four-sided polygons; the ubiquitous star pattern, ultimately derived from squares and triangles inscribed in a circle; and multisided polygons. It is clear, however, that the complex patterns found on many objects include a number of different shapes and arrangements, allowing them to fit into more than one category.  The basic shapes are then repeated in many ways – the process known as tessellation – to create complex patterns that are so simple at its core. A tesselation is a decoration of a two-dimensional plane using the repetition of a geometric shape with no overlaps and no gaps; generally it can be extended infinitely in all directions.

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Muqarnas (system of niches and projected ‘stalactites’, used as a transitional and decorative device in architecture), Mishkah (niche for a lamp), Lazo or Band-i-rumi (interlaced geometrical pattern) are some of the unique characteristics within Islamic art.

Other than stone, brick, wood and paper, stucco or plaster was widely used in Islamic Art. Plaster, a singularly useful material that lent itself to moulding and carving in a variety of ways, became a staple of Islamic architecture. Perhaps because of its plasticity as a medium it was less frequently used for purely geometric designs, and was more often used in vegetal-arabesque arrangements.

Stained or coloured glasses are used to create a heavenly experience within homes, palaces or places of worship. Designs the permit sunlight in the morning hours to enter the room from outside while providing a beautiful window view to an observer from outside during night time was mesmerising. The glass comes in four basic colours: red, blue, green and yellow. Movement of coloured patterns with the sun from dawn to dusk creates a dynamic ambience within the living space. Glasses are also used to decorate ceiling lanterns or wall lamps.

That the intricacies of infinite geometric patterns starts from a simple straight line, a point and a circle is perhaps the most unbelievable fact in the entire gamut of this marvellous form of art.

 

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Farmers’ Market

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Highway leading to Budaiya, the venue of Farmers’ Market 2017, got slower from almost a mile away. Typical of any event. Almost all the vehicles carried families with children. After finding a parking nearby, the place was a short walk away. It was a sunny and pleasant Saturday in January. Mild breeze among the many date palms lining the tiled walkways carried smell of vegetables. The botanical gardens in Budaiya, maintained by the Agriculture Ministry, hosted the Farmers’ Market as it did for past several years. Photographs were shot randomly while walking around the market…

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A mild climate conducive of growing vegetables in Bahrain starts from October typically. However, the summer lingered on till late November in 2016 and the weather turned mild towards mid- to end-December. Christmas really felt like that in Brisbane; warm. Farmers’ Market in Bahrain usually started in early December and lasts till the first few months of the following year. All Saturdays of the month, from 8 AM till 12 noon, Budaiya gets some extra action.

Breakfast Corner (actually it is an open space) visit was top on the list. Not that we three were hungry. The idea of tasting some authentic Bahraini food always appealed to us. Fresh vegetables were so appealing that from the moment we saw the first stall, the shutter was relentlessly moving up and down (or was it sideways? Should have paid more attention during the many photography workshops attended.) Tomatoes, Cauliflowers, Pumpkins, Chillies, Zucchinis, Cucumbers, all those leafy vegetables – that the family doctor always reminded to consume more, Beetroots, Bell Peppers, to name more than a few. Mint led the list of herbs. Those on sale were so fresh and untouched so unlike what is sold by the regular stores that it seemed to have made just for decoration and not for cooking.

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Flowering plants were on sale. Hyacinths and Pansies were more popular. Geraniums were rare. Bougainvilleas scattered themselves among others. As we walked forward, the air began to smell of waffles. Waffles would have been a complete misfit in such an atmosphere. We followed the waffles that led us to a stall where several people – women and children mostly – patiently waited for their turn to collect their favourite snack: pan-baked bread. Thin, crunchy, mildly sweet made up of batter.

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The best part of the Farmers’ Market was not the display of the local produce. It is about the people and the smile on their face. Met several families that included expatriates and the local ones. Business was casual with occasional bargaining (well, no one ever bargained in a super market) and tasting of the fresh produces.

Stall owners found time to chat about their farms in different parts of Bahrain. 17 years of stay made it almost possible to locate many. Children played as the sun rose while other wide-eyed ones kept wondering about the many colours of vegetables. From red, green, yellow and purple that is grown in their own Bahrain.

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The Fair in Autumn

Fun for all the family, the annual 9 day consumer fair features thousands of products from around the world. From handy household items to mouth-watering food stalls, popular fashion to children’s toys, new to market products to old favourites – the Autumn Fair has something for everyone!

Now in its 25th edition, the Autumn Fair is Bahrain’s largest and most popular consumer products show. This well established retail fair showcases a wide array of merchandise from across the globe, ranging from specialty foods to textiles, and furnishings to electrical goods.

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The unique atmosphere created by the Autumn Fair consistently attracts over 150,000 shoppers from Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, whilst also acting as an important sourcing venue for distributors and agents in the Gulf region. The entire exhibition centre becomes a colourful bazaar, transformed by traders who have traveled from far and wide to Bahrain, bringing with them their country’s best exports. The largest international groups assemble to form national pavilions and include countries such as China, Egypt, Yemen, Kuwait, Turkey, Syria, UAE and Pakistan.

Would it rain tonight?

A photoblog with no photo.
Now that is a first.
All because…
Just because…
it rained, one day.
26N 50E.
Bahrain.

Stubborn fingers swift over a virtual keyboard.
Clik.. clik clik… and so on.

Chapter 1
The World

Rain could make a mockery of humans by the nature in the desert.
Desert?
Vast, beige-ish, arid place would have been a better term.
But then, everyone knows that there is more to that.
Much more.
Desert surrounded by the sea on all sides.
A sea below the sea?
Bahr (sea) thnain (two)
But this is not about sea.
This is about rain.

rain
reɪn/

noun
1. the condensed moisture of the atmosphere falling visibly in separate drops.

Chapter 2
Rain

A change in weather was written all over the grey sky since that Friday morning.
Friday=off day.
Clouds began to gather since late morning.
The dry earth had to wait patiently till late afternoon for the first drops.
Condensed moisture.
Visible separate drops.
Not a lashing rain with all its ferocity.
Something mild.
Consistently mild.
Moderate, isolated, scattered, et al in weatherman’s parlance.

Chapter 3
It Gets Real

Darker clouds.
Occasional thunder.
Rain falls.
Again.
Streaks form on glass windows of the apartment.
Air condenses within.
Daughter writes “Hi! rain..” and turns back to Android device.
Subsides.
Later,
no puddles.
Perfect drainage.

Chapter 4
Life and similar

The men who manually wash cars hopefully looked up the heavens.
No one till now is sure if they were thanking the heavens to send down the rain that ruins the car by making a mess of the dust on the windshields or to look for chances of more rain to come.
Let us forget about the latter atheists for now.
Maids who finished their work, waited till the sky cleared.
Forgot to carry umbrella, you see.

Chapter 5
Others

Kids look out once and continue with their Temple Runs (man, he runs and slides and runs again…) or Candy Crush (hmm, you know what that one is) on their iOS or Android devices either handed over by their parents to keep them occupied or, in most cases, their own.
No excitement on the faces of kids.
Play not getting affected by rain at all.
As against,
Rain, No Play.

Chapter 6
And some more

Quote.
Raine raine goe to Spain: faire weather come againe.
Unquote.

No.
Not anymore.
Rain (noun), rain (a verb) as much as you want to.

and
“I wish… this would… last… forever”.

Chapter 7
Winged Ants

Rain in the highways within the city causes driving populace to panic.
Some drive good. Most drive better.
But they get hit from rear, mostly.
Slow reflexes, they say.
Non-fatal accidents resulting in dents and scratches soar like ‘winged ants on a damp night’.
Don’t know where I got that one from.
The winged ant thing…

Chapter 8
Sunshines

Then the whole rain-show is over within an hour or so.
But the skies remain cloudy for longer.
And the sun hesitates to shine.
Keeping hopes raised.

Chapter 9
And the Author

Sitting by the window with curtains parted wide.
iPad on the lap. (Ah, the role model!)
Freshly made Saffron tea sipped while reading about roots and shoots and all things irrelevant; assumed, imagined or virtual.
Or was it José Saramago?

Rain is often a nuisance, back in home town.
Rain is a celebration, at place of domicile.
The difference is about two thousand odd miles.

Home town or not, one asks oneself.
Would it rain tonight?

Tempting not to write…
clik… clik clik.. clik.

Macaw in Maraee

Blue and Gold Macaw…
These macaws are typically found in pairs or family groups in the wild, thus making them a bit more social than other species of macaws. They tend to be even-tempered and sweet, if raised properly. They use body language as a large portion of their communication and love training and learning new things – anything that stimulates their mind and challenges them to figure out something new. They require many different types of chewable toys that they can destroy, as well as puzzle toys that challenge them to figure out how to get inside of it.