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What is islamic geometry?

Islamic geometry is an amazing, complex art that is made with very simple tools. All you need is a compass and a straight edge- and the results are fascinating. It’s amazingly meditative and interesting, and promotes focus and inner calm.

Islamic geometric pattern in progress Iona Fournier-Tombs

A pattern drawn in pencil and ink.

coloring an islamic geometric pattern iona fournier-tombs

Filling in pattern with watercolor.. really meditative and relaxing!

Geometry is an ancient art. There is evidence that even Stone Age people had a complex understanding of it. So, how did the term Islamic geometry even come into being?

Recent studies show that the builders of Stonehenge, UK, had a sophisticated understanding of geometry.

Recent studies show that the builders of Stonehenge, UK (2500 BC) had a sophisticated understanding of geometry.

During the time we call the “Dark Ages” in Europe (which were really not that dark, actually..) the art of geometry, along with many other arts and sciences, were being developed at an incredible rate through the crosspollination of cultures and the work of brilliant thinkers. Muslims took on knowledge inherited from the Greeks, translated manuscripts and developed all sorts of new advancements in science and art (seriously? yes…).

Green_mosque_archway

Geometric patterns: in the Ottoman Green Mosque in Bursa, Turkey (1424), its girih strapwork forming 10-point stars and pentagons

Geometric art had already been brought to some stunning achievements by the Romans and Greeks, Indians, and many other peoples.  For Muslims, geometric art served as a visual expression of their belief in the creative intelligence underlying all things, This abstract art form fit really well with their notion that the Creator cannot be reduced to a body or form, but only hinted at by creating mosaics of seemingly endless, harmonious and perfectly balanced tessellations. In all the diversity of form created by geometry, the concept of Unity is omnipresent.

Isfahan_Lotfollah_mosque_ceiling_symmetric

The incredible ceiling of Jameh Lotfollah, Isfahan, Iran.

Geometry became so favoured that it was spread far and wide, where it blended with local art forms and took on different styles. It became widespread not only in Mosques and architecture, but also in every day crafts.

moroccan geometry hassan 2 mosque

With the huge societal changes of the 20th century, this art was nearly lost. Thanks to the work of many researchers, teachers and artists, it is becoming hugely popular again.

chalk islamic geometry montreal canada iona fournier-tombs

Collaborative street chalk drawings, Montreal (2008)

Anyone, regardless of creed or background, can enjoy the practice of geometry as a meditative practice. It is a universal art, refined through the ages, and continually evolving.

community painting project with Islamic geometry promoting unity in diversity, UK (2014)

Community painting project with Islamic geometry promoting unity in diversity, UK (2014)