My second creative response was inspired by Necipoglu’s piece about the arabesque in Islamic art. I have always been interested by tessellations, of which Islamic tiles and designs are some of the most beautiful and complex examples. Drawing on my Japanese heritage, I decided to create a 3D version of an arabesque. This was partly because I wanted to create a hybrid piece that demonstrated the crossover between the art of different cultures, partly because I have a particular love for the art of Kusudama ball folding, which my grandmother taught me, and also partly because I wanted to show in a more representational way the crux of Necipoglu’s argument: there is always another dimension to consider. In her article, she argues for the consideration of socio-cultural context in looking at Islamic art; in my piece, I literally added another dimension to a repeated floral design. In addition, introducing Far Eastern elements into a conversation about “Oriental” art seemed to be a direct refutation of the idea of “Oriental” art itself, in the Saidian interpretation of the term, since it is a demonstration that the form is in fact not static and lends itself well to multiple interpretations.

Though in traditional Kusudama ball art, the finished project is—as one would guess—a ball, I ended up creating just a half of a sphere. This was due to constraints of time and supplies (the finished ball would have required a total of 60 folded units!). As it turns out, half of a Japanese Kusudama ball corresponds to my half-Japanese identity, so stopping halfway through ended up being oddly appropriate for me.

The design that I chose is a floral design, composed of five petals. As Necipoglu points out, many motifs in Islamic arabesques are based on natural sources of inspiration. When put together, the different flowers (of which there are six) fit each other neatly, just as the components of an Islamic design also fit each other neatly.

One Response to “East meets Far East: adding another dimension to the arabesque”

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