I am currently taking class called, Islamic Societies.  It has truly opened my eyes to a new world that I never really new was around me and new cultures that I never even knew existed.  I chose Islamic art because it refers to a large variety of artistic traditions that have become prominent and are extremely beautiful in ways that we may not always recognize.  I went to the Freer Smithsonian Museum of Asian Art to collect my photographs on the Elements and Principles of Design.  The pieces come from a vast geographical area but all remain similar in style due to their Islamic heritage.


Stone-paste painted under glaze


Kashan, Iran




In this piece, line is used as the fundamental mark to draw one’s eye inward and upward making the sculpture itself seem higher and more narrow.  The lines painted onto this vase seem to define the edges of space, drawing your attention away from the negative space in between them.



Earthenware painted under glaze

Iran or Afghanistan


Point is the most basic shape in any visual design.  In this design the piece uses negative, unpainted space as a central point.  All of the designs around the outside converge in one single point in the middle of the dish. 


Stone paste painted under clear glaze

Sultanabad, Iran


This tile particularly illustrates form well because of its detailed shape and raised carvings.  Form is used in this piece to create not only the piece itself, but the image on the piece.  This design uses geometric form to create the shape around the outside but uses more freehand organic form to create the design on the surface.


Dish under glaze



In this piece the artist creates movement without actually creating any movement at all.  The shape and direction of the design on the outside creates an illusion of circular movement around the stagnant design in the middle of the dish.  The sense of movement in this piece is unmistakable at first glance, and is extremely impressive.  Creating movement without movement is like creating noise without noise; not impossible but not an easy feat.



Stone paste under turquoise glaze


Raqqa, Syria




The highly saturated hues of blue create an intense color creation to be seen in this piece.  In using three different hues of an already intense blue the artist allows you to see the contrast between the colors without have to use opposite colors to accentuate it.  The artists uses this color to create a dynamic between the blue hues without having to use contrasting colors like black and white.


Paper mache book cover



In this piece the artist uses three separate patterns to draw your eye inward toward the center of the image.  The artist uses both geometric and natural shapes to create an entirely organic design that is overall symmetrical.  Pattern plays a role in where you are forced to look and how the viewer is meant to look at the image, it is hard to see the image as a whole without seeing it in three separate parts with three separate patterns.


Stone Paste



In this piece the artist used molding and carving to create the texture in the tile.  The image itself is hard to interpret or depict especially if the viewer can not read arabic, however the writings themselves are incomplete, making it hard for even the most avid arabic speaker to interpret what the tile itself is saying.  The intricately carved parts of this piece are what makes it intriguing even if it cant be immediately understood.


Stone-paste paint bottle



Each area of this composition is given equal weight.  Although it may not be exact, there is a symmetry that makes the sides of the bottle related to one another but not exactly twins creating a balance in this piece.  By using simple, pastel colors there is no emphasis on a single part, rather the emphasis lies in the entire piece itself.





If you were to use an average candlestick as the scale, the artist has clearly played with acceptable proportions in this piece.  The piece gets larger as it goes down creating the feeling that you are almost looking up at it when you are looking at it straight on.  The point of this is to create importance, symbolizing that the bottom, or foundation, is the most important part of the piece holding it up.


Wall hanging

Central Asia


The lines and repetition on the panels of the panels create the rhythm in this piece of art.  instead of directly visible lines drawn into the piece, the lines are implicit, expected to be seen.  The effect creates a type of regularity often associated with work illustrating rhythm.



Basra Iraq


Emphasis in composition usually occurs at the place where the viewer’s eye is drawn to.  In this piece that spot is directly in the middle of the dish.  All of the lines, both organic and geometric, and patterns in the dish all lead from the outside inward toward the center stop in the middle of the bowl.


Table Stand

Raqqa, Syria


This piece, a table stand, may not be seen as illustrating unity at first glance.  However, if you look closely there is a symmetry in the carvings on each side of the piece.  The sides work together, along with the abstract or organic paintings to create one entire piece that is hard to disect without seeing the entire thing, a sense of overall unity.  Not only do the aspects of design in this piece represent unity but the piece itself.  This piece is a table stand, used to hold something up.  Its legs all work together to distribute the weight and are unified by the job they were built to do.