Illustrated Architecture Dictionary ...............Islamic style.............. Illustrated FURNITURE Glossary



1. Intricate overall pattern of geometric forms or stylized plants used in Muhammadan countries.

2. Overall decorative pattern of acanthus scrolls, swags, candelabrum shafts, animal or human forms, on panels or pilasters, in Roman and Renaissance architecture.

3. A species of ornament of infinite variety used for enriching flat surfaces or moldings, either painted, inlaid, or carved in low relief.

  • - Illustrated Dictionary of Historic Architecture, Ed. by Cyril M. Harris. Dover Pub. 1977

Used in Neoclassical style.

"Arabesque art consists of a series of repeating geometric forms which are occasionally accompanied by calligraphy.... To Muslims, these forms, taken together, constitute an infinite pattern that extends beyond the visible material world. To many in the Islamic world, they in fact symbolize the infinite, and therefore uncentralized, nature of the creation of the one God (Allah)." - Wikipedia

"The Arabesque developed in the Italian cinquecento [15th century renaissance] work repudiated all the original Arabian elements and devices, and limited itself to the manipulating of the classical elements, of which the most prominent feature is ever the floriated or foliated scroll; and it is in this cinquecento decoration, whether in sculpture or in painting, that Arabesque has been perfected." - Classic Encyclopedia

The Alhambra arabesques combine abstract palm fronds with stylized flowers interlaced with geometric design. Tongues of flame, jasmine blossom and snowflakes form together an infinite melody of divine mathematics..." - The Alhambra in Focus, translated by Jon Trout. Pub. by EDILUX S.L., 2008, p.90.

See also: Fret. .......Strapwork

Not to mistaken for grotesque decoration.

Our doors and windows: how to decorate them (1889)
Digitized by the Smithsonian Institute.

This is a book by the Cutting and Delaney firm of buffalo, a large and important influence in the Orientalism movement the late 19th century.

(Special thanks to Paul Tucker for the alert on this.)


Painted, inlaid, or flat carved designs, composed of floral and geometrical scrolls, human or animal and mythological forms, etc. Usually framed within a single shape such as a rectangle.

A Moorish design of scrollwork, leaves, flowers, and interlaced branches. Used on 16th and 17th century Spanish and Portuguese furniture.

A very popular design in oriental rugs consisting of scrolling (or intertwining) vines, flowers, buds or branches. Arabesques can be either floral or geometric in nature.

Arabesques were also applied to the decoration of illuminated manuscripts, walls, furniture, metalwork, pottery, stonework, majolica, and tapestry from the Renaissance to the 19th century.

Examples from Buffalo:
Other examples:

Photos and their arrangement 2010 Chuck LaChiusa
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