THE SCIENCE OF GEOMETRY
The language of symmetry had been established by late antiquity among most civilisations. These ancient empires used it to develop an art form, with an underlying geometric pattern. Muslim craftsmen went on to refine the language by adding more elaborate, and more ornate layers. This enriched the simplicity of the underlying grid, with a harmonious blend of scale and proportion. Hence, from the onset Islamic art evolved with three fundamentals: geometry, arabesque, and calligraphy. Geometry is what the Muslims embraced, becoming the art defining the principle of their style. They drew inspirations from the proportions they saw in nature, from the simple shapes around them, like the square and the circle. The four equilateral sides of the square are representation of the equally crucial elements of life: earth, fire, air and water. The circle symbolised the physical world revolving around them. And the reason why they are drawn to these shapes, apart from their abstract nature, is the harmony and simplicity of their proportions. So, the legacy of the Muslims was in combining the principles of nature with mathematics to form a new artistic language. This new harmonious marriage between geometry and symmetry was to stretch beyond the notion of abstract forms, as craftsmen began to develop many new different patterns. It was a way of pulling man away from his micro-cosmos and placing him within the scope of a macro-universe, and back again. As Islamic art, therefore, developed into a sophisticated vehicle navigating across a rich reportage of civilisations, the idea of arabesque and the rhythmic pattern of scrolling with interlacing foliage was introduced. The philosophy here is that after the human body, nature is one of the most profound of God’s creations. Its flowing tendency adds a dynamic to visual art. Its repetition draws the soul into a meditative state, generated by the infinite weave of patterns, which one continuously sees in nature. Gradually, this grows into a fluid hypnotic form, which focuses the mind on the devotion of a single Creator.