Islamic Art Using Tessellations
If there is any aspect that truly reflects the ethnicity of a community, it is its aesthetic view. For Muslims worldwide, Islam forms the focal point of their lives. The Almighty Allah is the supreme omnipotent power and each follower strictly adheres to the laws laid down by the religion.
Islam prophesies that God creates and destroys all living creatures as per His own resolve and verdict. Nothing in the world takes place by chance. All actions occurring around us are predestined and are a part of Allah’s master plan.
Islam controls not only the lives of its followers but also the other realms of culture, art being one of them. As per the religion, the Islamic artists are strictly restricted from portraying any figures, animals or humans, in their creative skill. Owing to this injunction, Islamic art has developed a distinct style of its own. Islamic art is chiefly demonstrated by calligraphy, arabesque, geometrical and floral patterns.
Tessellations form a part of the geometrical patterns exhibited in Islamic art. The term originates from the Latin word ‘tesserae’, which means a small piece of stone of the size of a dice used in mosaics. Therefore, in about 3000 BC tessellations were used in the form of mosaics in Ancient Mesopotamia. These mosaics not only showcased tessellations in their structure but in their patterns as well. When representing a part of the pattern, the term signifies three types of grids that can be composed of equilateral triangles, squares or hexagons. Thus, tessellations highlight the use of polygonal shapes fitted into each other resembling the pieces of a puzzle.
The name of M C Escher, a Dutch artist, leads in the usage of tessellations in art. Some of his eminent pieces of art depict tessellations transforming from one image to another. His work, Sky and Water, a lithograph produced in 1938 is a perfect example of the same. As his work became prominent, tessellations also gained importance as a form of art. Tessellations have been discovered adorning floors, walls and quilts representing Islamic art.
Although Islam forbade the inclusion of figures, Islamic artists sustained their aesthetic instincts by thinking of other alternatives, tessellations being a major part of it. Various Islamic buildings are decorated by extremely complicated patterns of tessellated tiles. The Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain and the Tessellated Pavement in Tasmania exemplify the same.
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