Projects – Mashrabia-ish Window Decoration Redux

I am not really satisfied with the old window treatment even though it is always a delight to see the shadows play with the morning light. I am missing the complexity of the Geometric patterns of the Masrabia in the Middle East, and the old window decoration doesn’t do justice. So, I decided to make another one with a new style with a more complex look. I removed the old ones from my window panes and prepared all I needed to create the new window decoration and trying to emulate the Mashrabia.

Armed with a pair of scissors, a craft knife, some scrap papers, a tube of glue and a piece of paper printed with the design I wanted, I cut my way through twelve pieces of scrap paper based on the design. That piece of paper became a template, and I traced the design on a blank piece of paper using a pen, pressing hard on the paper so the design would be transferred. I then stapled the rest of the papers together and cut the design according to the transferred design.

The cut papers are then glued on the already cleaned window panes. I only applied a few dabs of glue on the ends of the papers, so should I change my mind again, I can remove it without much hassle.

The end products is like the picture above. I had noticed that the designed is flawed ; the stars between the glass panes doesn’t form the desired pattern. This is because I based the template on a printed picture of a door from a Minbar in Egypt, so the design aren’t supposed to be set side by side.  But in my opinion, it still looked great especially with sunlight pouring in.



Imagining Islamic Aesthetics #38 – The Three Islamic Decorative Canon

In my last posts, I wrote about the three Islamic Decorative Canon that is Calligraphy, Geometrical art and Arabesques. For this edition of Imagining Islamic Aesthetics I would like to show you a few examples of when these three elements of Islamic Decoration Canon is combined.

The three elements of the Islamic Decorative Canon an usually been seen being used together to create a beautiful pieces that can be usually seen in mosques or other highly significant monuments such as palaces, or it could also been found on daily items such as caskets. Usually, if it is used for monumental decoration it can be seen used on certain spots such as the Mihrab wall (the wall that is facing Mecca in mosques) or on Iwans (tall gateway entrances). Should the combination of these three be used on all over the monument, it would create a very busy and confusing decoration!

A Mihrab being displayed in the Pergammnon Museum. It features the three Islamic Decorative Canon- Geometrical patterns on the inside of the Mihrab, Calligraphy around the archway of the Mihrab as well as Arabesques.

Author - Fabio Alessandro Locati

A Wall decoration inside the Alhambra, Spain. The Nasrid-era palace is one of the finest masterpieces of Islamic art and architecture. Here floral Arabesque patterns can be seen enclosed by Geometrical patterns and features calligraphy.


Mausoleum of Qutub ud Din Aibak in Lahore, Pakistan. Apart from the Jaalis (pierced screen decoration) done in Geometric patterns, You can see calligraphic works around the gate as well as above the doorway itself, done in two distinctly different calligraphy style.

A wall in Bou Inania Medrasa in Fez, Morocco. The famed Zillij tiles uses Geometric patterns, While tile panels and plaster carvings of calligraphy can be seen above it, as well as Arabeques done in carved plaster, just like it is in the Alhambra.

Folio from a Koran; Title page (Sura An-Najm). Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper. H: 32.6 W: 25.2 cm. Egypt. Date late 14th century. The Quran is a sacred text held high by the Muslims, so it is very natural that they feature is with rich decoration.


Technicals – Even More Ways to Arrange the Eight-Pointed Star

In the last articles under the Technical section I had posted some regarding how to build eight-pointed stars, one of the most common motifs in Islamic art, as well as how to arrange them in specific ways. This article will show you other methods of arranging this polygon, some with help of different types of polygons.

1. A variant of the Stars and Cross arrangement

This variation of the Stars and Crosses arrangement features a slight difference – the addition of a square in the middle of each cross. This arrangement is usually used for Jaalis or Masyrabias because of the empty spaces in the cross parts are filled, allowing more privacy.

2.With 2 different polygons

The eight-pointed stars are arranged that there are two different polygons are formed between the stars, here shown in cyan and dark blue. Two points on the upper part of the star is joined with the lower two points of another star to make a four sided diamond shape polygon, while two points of four stars are connected to create an octagon.

3. With Arrow-shaped polygons

The stars are arranged in a ladder-like way – one star is arranged lower than the other and goes on. The pointed sides in the cardinal direction (up, down, left and right)  are connected with each other and creates arrow shaped spaces between them.