Arabic or Islamic Patterns?

The term Arabic pattern is widely used to refer to Islamic geometric patterns. While this age-old art form might have originated within Arab territories, history shows that the use of geometric patterns in artistic expressions developed as a consequence of the expansion of Islam and the Islamic empire. Arabic patterns would probably not exist without Islam, as is the Islamic culture and its philosophical views that created the theoretical framework for the birth of Islamic patterns.

Islamic patterns are present everywhere in the world where the Islamic faith was adopted in significant numbers, most notably in regions far beyond the borders of the Arab world, such as the areas occupied by the ancients Ottoman and Persian empires, India and a huge extension of other Asian territories.

The term Arabic pattern reflects a common misunderstanding and not necessarily the intention to refer to patterns developed within the Arab world.

While there are many Islamic patterns styles differentiated by the types of symmetries involved as well as by the use of different embellishment techniques, the truth is that there are a number of Islamic patterns styles present in the Arab world.

The Maghreb - or Arab regions of northwestern Africa, for instance, shows Islamic geometric patterns where 8-fold symmetries predominate, the legacy of the Moroccan tradition, while geometric patterns in the Arabian Gulf area show a majority of patterns in 9 and 10-fold symmetries, with Ottoman and Persian influences.

At Nomad Inception, we prefer the term Islamic patterns to Arabic patterns, as the former is broader and better reflects the field of our work, where the term Islamic does not necesarily refer to the religion of Muslims but to the cultural and historic background of the times and places where the art flourished.