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Islamic Art

Key Concepts in Islamic Art

  • Islamic art is non-representational. Artistic expression is found through abstract decorative art rather than a pictorial imitation of nature.
  • Artistic expression is founded on the principle of balance and order - seen as the basis of the laws of creation.
  • Geometry means "land measure". Ropes were used as compasses.
  • There is no need for calculations - all constructions are based on straight edge and compasses.
  • The repeat unit is determined by the use of a circle:

Square system, including octagons

Hexagonal system

Also pentagonal system.

  • The systematic arrangement of a repeat unit is used to produce an overall design.

Thanks to Alessandra Desbottes & Nigel Appleton for many of the photographs.


There are numerous possibilities for teaching mathematics through the medium of islamic art, here are but three:



Area and Perimeter


However, it will also be an interesting and rewarding challenge for many pupils simply to recreate a geometric design like this on a square grid:


Or this:

-How could you draw out this design on squared paper...?


Click here for more design ideas.























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