Notebook, 1993-



A scrolling or interlacing plant form, the most typical motif of Islamic ornament. In the late Middle Ages such patterns were in Europe termed 'moresques', but in the 16th cent. the word 'arabesques' came into use when Europeans began to be interested in the art of the Muslim world. But the motif itself is much older, for it is found in Hellenistic art, notably in Asia Minor. Its Islamic form first appeared c. AD 1000 and thereafter it became the stock-in-trade of the Muslim artist, for whom it had a particular appeal since--in theory at least--his religion precluded the representing of living creatures. The term is applied also by extension to the combinations of flowing lines interwoven with flowers and fruit and fanciful figures used by Renaissance decorators.

[Chilvers, Ian, Harold Osborne, and Dennis Farr, eds. Oxford Dictionary Of Art. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.]



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