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Monday, 13 September 2021

Spot the Frippet: arabesque.

 Arabesques are important in Islamic art, but they aren't confined to it. They didn't originate in Islamic culture, either:

Roman arabesque (on lower panel) c 27 AD. Photo by Andy Hay

drawing by Etienne de Lavallee-Poussin c1785

An arabesque is an interweaving pattern made of leaves and stems:

photo by Jan Smith from Brisbane, Australia - Umayyad Mosque, Damascus: Detail.

In Islam, which tends to prefer its Art not to include images of people or animals, the arabesque is sometimes used as a focus for contemplation. The underlining geometry of the design echoes the structure of creation (a square might suggest earth, air, fire and water, for instance) and the tangling plants the idea of creation itself.

In the West I'm afraid we just tend to think that's nice wallpaper.

pattern by William Morris

Ah well!

Spot the Frippet: arabesque. This word comes from the Italian arabesco, which means in the Arab style.

You get arabesques in ballet, too:

Olga Preobrajenska. Photo from ​English Wikipedia user Mrlopez2681, CC BY-SA 3.0,

so you could always make your own arabesque in front of a mirror.

But do watch how you go.

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