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What is the Islamic decoration and where is the Islamic decoration distinguished in Andalusia?

What is the Islamic decoration and where is the Islamic decoration distinguished in Andalusia?

Date: 2023/03/22


Table Of Contents

1- What is decoration and what is Islamic decoration?

Decoration is defined as a group of lines, points, geometric shapes, a number of drawings of plants and animals, and a number of overlapping and harmonious words, which in the end give a distinctive shape used to decorate churches, mosques, buildings, cemeteries, and others. Ornamentation is considered one of the sciences of the arts that aims to research the philosophy of proportion, proportion, abstraction, mass, space, composition, line and color, which are either natural, human, plant, animal or engineering units that have been transformed into abstract forms, leaving room for the imagination, creativity and sense of the artist. The principles and rules for it have been laid down. After a brief definition of decorations, I will talk about the types of decorations, specifically the types of Islamic decorations.

Decorative Arts: Arts or crafts whose goal is to design and manufacture objects that have aesthetic and functional values.

The concept of Islamic decoration : a refined Islamic art whose function is to create beauty through the completion of a work of art that enters into the formation of its content as a unity in which the attributes of beauty are coherent in content and form. This type of art is considered far from any drawing related to people or simulating nature. It is an art concerned with the foundations and roots inspired by religion, the traditions inherited from the righteous predecessors, and a representation of the intimate relationship between the Islamic religion and the art and decoration of architecture to reflect the beauty of the Islamic spirit that Islam has written for the life of a Muslim. 


2- When did the art of decoration begin?

The oldest geometric shapes in Islamic art are the eight shapes and lozenges inside which are squares in the Uqba Ibn Nafi Mosque in Tunisia, which dates back to the year 221 AH / 836 AD, and since then it has spread throughout the Islamic world.


3- Types of Islamic decorations

  1. Botanical motifs

Artists excelled in using plant shapes , such as tree branches, leaves, fruits, and flowers, in shaping the decoration of artistic products such as buildings and antiques, where artists stripped and transformed all the elements used from their natural form, as the artist tended to occupy spaces and fill voids, and the use of this type of decoration increased in the ninth century AD, and the peak of this use was in the period between the twelfth and thirteenth centuries AD.


  1. Written decoration

Artists used calligraphy as it was the decorative element in this type of decoration, and after Arabic calligraphy was a means of science and knowledge, it became in this type of decoration a manifestation of beauty that pulsates with life and magic, and this type is still growing, developing and multiplying to the point of exaggeration in the methods of modification The parts of its compound and single letters, and this modification was considered one of the types of decoration, and the types of this decoration alone amounted to more than eighty types, as it reached its perfection in the Abbasid era, and it is considered a kind of artistic luxury that no nation previously reached.


  1. geometric decoration

The tendency to use geometric ornamentation began in the Umayyad period, and it was excelled in it in a way that is unique and unparalleled in any other civilization, despite its simplicity in using the basic geometric shapes of squares, straight lines, circles and triangles, where these different shapes had a fundamental and important role in the Arab decoration, as they became the basis for the shapes of The Islamic decoration, which was distinguished by its strong character, which appears clearly in the use of star-shaped formations that adorned the artifacts and the roofs of the buildings.


  1. pictorial decoration

Living beings were a means used as a unit in decorative works. Artists took them in the past as one of the mythical forms. Because the use of living beings as a means of photography is considered a form of paganism, Muslim artists wanted to distance themselves from them in order to eliminate pagan manifestations. This type gradually faded away, and murals replaced it. for this type of decoration

4- The arts of decoration in Andalusia

The Andalusian architecture of Granada did not lose its luster after the fall of the last Islamic kingdom ruled by the Arabs in southeastern Europe. The entire country of Andalusia represented the stage of the glory of Arab civilization, in all scientific, literary, intellectual and artistic fields. The Arabs excelled in it, especially in the arts of decoration .

The aesthetics of Andalusian decorative design in general, and what is evident from them in the Al-Hamra palaces in particular, is considered one of the finest developments reached by Andalusian decorative art based on the self-creations of its artists in isolation from the artistic currents in other Islamic regions, in a country devoid of artistic heritage before the Islamic conquest, and this is what qualified it. To assume a prominent position among the schools of Islamic decoration art .

The centuries-old Andalusian motifs are artistic and historical documents of great importance. This is evident in several archaeological architectural sites preserved by time so that the world can witness the ability and skill of the Muslim artist, including the Great Mosque of Cordoba , the palaces of Al-Zahra , the Al-Jaafaria Palace in Zaragoza , the Al-Hamra palaces in Granada , these Andalusian monuments, despite their abundance and their architectural and decorative importance, constitute few remnants of civilization Great prevailed in the country of Andalusia and flourished to a degree that exceeded all appreciation, and it was one of the finest parts of Europe.

Cordoba Grand Mosque

Researcher Muhammad Ali believes that "the Andalusian Umayyad art is manifested in its finest form in the Great Mosque of Cordoba, which underwent continuous expansions that spanned more than 250 years, and the architectural and decorative influences of Mesopotamia appear clear in this mosque, those influences borrowed from the Maghreb, which formed a circle Connected between Baghdad and Andalusia through Egypt, as well as Byzantine and Spanish local influences.

The Great Mosque of Cordoba  is a complex of all decorative elements of a variety of materials, including plaster, stone, and wood, and sometimes inlaid with gold and silver. And the bends and muqarnas integrated into the walls.

He points out that the decorative designer followed in implementing the mosque's decorations the method of repeating the decorative elements with diversity and difference, as well as the decorative groups placed within framed panels, as each decorative panel represents a stand-alone design. The diversity applied to the architectural elements of the mosque led to the melting of its heavy mass. The serrated triangular balconies placed at the ends of the walls gave it a distinctive visual state through its dynamic ornamental repetition, which contributed to shattering the simplicity and clarity of the upper horizontal line, and gave the huge wall mass a state of lightness, transparency and accuracy that made it fragment upward merged with and merged with outer space.

As for the ceiling decorations, they were executed on wooden panels by the method of engraving, as the decorations of each panel differ from the other and included geometric elements with hexagonal shapes, circles, lozenges and stars colored in white, blue and green, in addition to plant elements. The scissor or serrated arches took on a colorful decorative appearance, as they were designed in the form of eight alternating blocks of red brick and white stone.

Al-Zahra palaces

He believes that the decorations of Al-Zahra’s palaces truly express the zenith of the flourishing of the Cordoban-Andalusian decorative art, but rather that they represent the true birth of the art of Islamic decoration on a large scale in the country of Andalusia.

 In its geometric decorations, it used engraving and drawing techniques on stone, marble, and plaster, as well as the use of red brick pieces intertwined with white stone as a decorative element in the arches. clerical. While the geometric wall decorations were engraved in the form of red colored bands with square, octagonal or circular shapes, they were executed on a variety of materials and using various techniques, including recessed and “tilted” chamfering.

He points out that the palaces of Al-Zahraa gained their majesty from the multiplicity of their plant decorations carved on stone or marble and their crowding everywhere. These leaves have many lobes, and they are permeated with holes and petioles, and they acquired delicacy and grace through their bending and erection, or through their opposition and opposition, or their front and back turns.

5- Conclusion

Andalusian Islamic art is the most distinguished by a type of geometric decoration that has been termed as star dishes. The Muslim artist also used constructive foundations to form decorative units, including the method of deletion and addition while occupying all the design space, as well as the method of formation by suggestion and the method of cross formation on a regular and repeated basis, and the method of formation By analyzing a geometric figure from the inside, and so on. Andalusian artists also excelled in muqarnas decorations of various sizes, whether inside or outside the buildings, as they were used as a purely decorative element or combined architectural purpose and aesthetic purpose together, as their creation required an in-depth knowledge of mathematics ahead of its time.

And the Andalusians used in their engineering architectural decorations cohesive and contiguous circles, braids, broken and intertwined lines, as well as other geometric shapes such as triangle, square, rhombus, pentagon and hexagon, and the geometric decorations focused on wooden ceilings, floors and interior walls, as they were decorated with complex geometric networks with polygonal stars and executed in the manner of engraved decorations Or drawn in which simple extended shapes alternate with short shapes.


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