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The complex geometry of Islamic design - Eric Broug


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In Islamic culture, geometric design is everywhere: you can find it in mosques, madrasas, palaces, and private homes. And despite the remarkable complexity of these designs, they can be created with just a compass to draw circles and a ruler to make lines within them. Eric Broug covers the basics of geometric Islamic design.

Additional Resources for you to Explore

The variety of Islamic geometric patterns and compositions is enormous. The best way to start to learn is by looking and observing. The largest online resource is Pattern in Islamic Art. It categorizes patterns by region and has many excellent supplemental materials, including many historically important articles and books. Take a look and see what you discover!

On the Archnet website (The online resource of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at MIT), Eric Broug, author of this lesson, has a section with, amongst other, a selection of sixfold geometric patterns. Click on “View the Collection,” and take a look at the beautiful photos provided. More selections will be added so check back periodically for more examples.

Find all this fascinating? Check out Eric Broug’s youtube channel that includes several step-by-step tutorials such as: How to draw a sixfold star pattern, How to draw a tenfold 15th century Quran page from Cairo, How to build a muqarnas (three dimensional Islamic geometric design), and various other videos.

If, after watching these videos, you want to learn how to draw patterns, how to understand their construction and history in more depth, consider taking the online course: Introduction to Islamic Geometric Design. It has 13 lectures with titles such as: ‘How Grids and Patterns Work Together’, How to Tessellate a Sixfold Pattern, Highlights of Islamic Geometric Design.

Love to draw? Eric Broug also has two print books and one ebook that all have step-by step instructions, these will enable you to draw many more patterns, ranging from the simple to the complex. The first book ‘Islamic Geometric Patterns’ is available in English, Farsi, Turkish and French. The second book ‘Islamic Geometric Design’ has hundreds of color photos and illustrations and gives an historical and practical analysis. The eBook is called ‘Draw Islamic Geometric Star Patterns and is available on all major eBook platforms.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of people around the world, who practice Islamic geometric design. Some do so professionally, such as craftsmen in Morocco and Iran. Many others make patterns as a pastime, because they enjoy the process, the opportunity to make something beautiful and the opportunity to learn. Many of these people are share their work on Eric Broug’s Facebook group dedicated to Islamic geometric design. Visit it and take in the beauty of Islamic geometric design from across the world. Then, visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art site: Geometric Patterns in Islamic Art and view the slideshow or Activities for learning section for more information!

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Meet The Creators

  • Educator Eric Broug
  • Director Jeremiah Dickey
  • Animator Peyton Skyler
  • Script Editor Emma Bryce
  • Narrator Addison Anderson

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