The Art of Islamic Patterns

Over the years that I have been roaming around in Kuwait I have encountered so many different types of fascinating Islamic patterns that I truly find beautiful. If you are an art enthusiast like me, you would notice pure creativity in  single window or facade details. From doors to the walls, from floors to decorative Arabic mashrabiya.

Are you like me who ponders when seeing a work of art? for even a single pattern?

I am writing from my own perspective of things that I see here in Kuwait  but to quote Monty Python, what has Islam ever done for us? You know, apart from the algebra, the trigonometry, the optics, the astronomy and the many other scientific advances and inventions of the Islamic Golden Age.

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Islamic pattern is a pure Art. The Arabic calligraphy combined with decorative tiles which has been carved and all handmade is a gem in every significant building. Aside from the lavish cost of the whole building, I consider it as a treasure because it’s all made of hard work of skilled craftsmen.

I always like art and interiors, when I live in Kuwait, I notice that there’s always the stunning patterns that grace mosques, madrasas and  Amir’s palaces not only here, but in other parts of the world also.

Islamic craftsmen and artists – who were prohibited from making representations of people in holy sites – developed an instantly recognizable aesthetic based on repeated geometrical shapes.

The mathematical elegance of these designs is that no matter how elaborate they are, they are always based on grids constructed using only a ruler and a pair of compasses.

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Although the size and grandeur of this chandelier from Germany  is huge, I was in awe just gazing at this marvelous dome inside the Grand Mosque particularly in the Amir’s entrance Hall.Every single detail was carved into perfection and unified patterns.


These decorative and colorful wall patterns are all geometrical figures which has symbolic meanings. The choice of color, shape and texture fitted perfectly to the base and provide aesthetical harmony.

If you take a closer look on Islamic design, you can mostly conclude that all these patterns are  based on Greek geometry, which teaches us that starting with very basic assumptions, we can build up a remarkable number of proofs about shapes. Islamic patterns provide a visual confirmation of the complexity that can be achieved with such simple tools.

Amazing right?


These gigantic lamps are also a striking piece accentuating the brilliant ceiling patterns.

Here is a quote from Eric Broug, who is a Dutchman &  one of the most active practitioners of Islamic geometric design working today.

“Geometry is really a universal language, everyone can – and does – relate to it instinctively,” he says. “There is a joy to be had in starting with a blank piece of paper and to draw lines and circles and end up with a pattern that is recognizable and beautiful. This process connects you very directly to a design heritage.”

If you wanna know more about this wonderful subject and learn from Eric’s approach, you can check out his books about Islamic designs here.

I never knew how wide & deep the insights of these patterns not until I browse on his writings about Islamic designs. He had a great job showing how wonderful world of these patterns.

As I have noticed,geometric patterns make up one of the three non-figural types of decoration in Islamic art which also include calligraphy and vegetal patterns.  Whether isolated or used in combination with nonfigural ornamentation or figurative representation,  geometric patterns are popularly associated with Islamic art, largely due to their aniconic quality.

These abstract designs not only adorn the surfaces of monumental Islamic architecture but also function as the major decorative element on a vast array of objects of all types. While geometric ornamentation may have reached a pinnacle in the Islamic world, the sources for both the shapes and the intricate patterns already existed in late antiquity among the Greeks, Romans & Sasanians in Iran.

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Take this Moroccan door detail for example,notice how the shape of the door knob that is exactly the same as the overall door patterns just the colorful designs & color are enhanced.

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Points for aesthetics is the similar floor & ceiling design. Such balance & Unity is achieved in this approach.The overall effect is so calming and yet striking to your senses.


Islamic artists appropriated key elements from the classical tradition, then  complicated and elaborated upon them in order to invent a new form of decoration that stressed the importance of unity and order. The significant intellectual contributions of Islamic mathematicians, astronomers and scientists were essential to the creation of this unique new style.

Considering the rich origin of these patterns, I am amazed how intricate the modern designs which were derived from the past heritage. If you visits various hotels, function areas and Diwaniyas here, you can find that these Islamic patterns are always present in the design.

I love the Art of Islamic Patterns, how about you?

Do you find any interesting patterns from your place of living?

What do you find unique in the places that you’ve visited?



9 thoughts on “The Art of Islamic Patterns

  1. I’ve always been intrigued by the art and architecture of Islam, as it’s non-representational in many expressions. The geometry and symmetries that are achieved are nothing short of stunning. Thank you for a wonderful post!



  2. What a beautiful post! I am so impressed 🙂 I love the intricacy. It’s spellbinding in many of the Arabic buildings. Granada, Sevilla and Cordoba spring readily to mind. A joy to visit.


  3. I can so relate to that wonderful feelings of drawing shapes on a blank piece of paper and turning it into a geometric pattern. I so enjoyed your interesting post and the images. That ceiling!!!! – WoW! The mosaic are visually entrancing and inspiring to those of us who design or paint stylized art. We can constantly find patterns around us if we are open to them. In clothing, architecture and everyday objects. Just last week I saw vibrantly colourful patterns in the way the exotic fruit was stacked at the market! I don’t like geometry,or maths, but in patterns, that is mathematics that I like!


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