Projects – Islamic Architecture on Paper

Since I was small, I always, in my free time, sketch and draw – on every scrap paper that I could find, drawing human figures, abstract designs (if you would honour scribbles in that way) logos, buildings etc…So much so I often get into trouble, for I also often use the back pages of my school notebooks for my spontaneous sketches. Very naughty of me, and when I reminisce, I can’t help it but to think how funny it was.

As I grew older, and as I had (and have) jobs in my hand, I find it hard to spend some time on my drawing and sketching, though that spontaneous, spur-of-the-moment, my-hands-have-minds-of-their-own moments are always there -my notebook which I carry everywhere when I am at work is a testament of this, and surprise, I always prefer the back pages for the sketches. Old habits will never change, I suppose. The notebook is full of what I am most interested in today, that is, Islamic art and architecture. you can find attempts to understand and recreate Muqarnas, looking for new styles and shapes of Geometrical stars, trying my hands on different types of calligraphy etc. If I have the chances, I will scan and post the pages here for you to see.

When I was 19 years old or so, I was thinking and imagining (read : daydreaming) about this lost land, far away in one of the seven sea of the world, where all cultures and religion of the world collide and create a harmonious country. One of the ‘states’ of the country is a place called Darussalam, the Abode of Peace in Arabic, where all Islamic aesthetics come together. I imagined a majestic and very grand palace where the Sultan and his queen would reside. The palace itself is an amalgamation of different Islamic styles – from Persian Iwan and grand gates, Moroccan style open hall with a fountain in the center,Egyptian Mameluke or Fatimid style hall, an Andalusian-Spanish style pavilion with a canal and gardens like those in the Alhambra and a Turkish grand palace with its multiple domes and of course, the Hammams.

As busy as I am, sometimes I found some time alone (usually in the middle of the night) and I grabbed my pencils and a piece of paper, I took my old ideas and recreate them. Now that I have a deeper understanding of the Islamic aesthetics and architectural features, my sketches look the least more authentic than I used to do. However, I know that I have still lots more to learn.

Sorry for the huge watermark in the middle. Have to protect my creations! Anyways, this is the “main gate” of the “palace” I was imagining. The style is combination of Mughal and Persian aesthetics. The geometrical stars are still not perfect, so is my straight lines. I tried to recreate the Muqarnas from the Persian buildings above the portals. I think I essentially recreated it, but not as perfect as the real thing. The floral motifs flanking the lower part of the gate is influenced by Mughal and Indian art. You can see the feeble attempt to recreate the geometrical Kufic scripts inside the portal – something I really need to learn more deeply. The calligraphy along the gate is taken from the Al-Quran, from the Surah Al-Fath.

This one have a muted, faded watermark, but it is still a watermark across the pic :s This is the Andalusian-Spanish pavilion , which supposed to be between the “Egyptian Mameluke/Fatimid Hall” and the “Main Palace” itself.  I did not recreate the gardens, but I just drawn the main pavilion. Should it be in colour, it would have red clay roofs, with white walls, plus the colours of the Zillij tiles on the second floor (Mezzanine?) of the structure. I just essentially trying to recreate the horseshoe arches, famously used in the La Mezquita in Spain. I did not drawn the Zillij inside the pavilion itself, due to my perspective problems..

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