Pretty patterns from Islamic Textiles: Part 1


Last week, I spent a day in SOAS library researching textiles from the Islamic world. I’m working on a project which involves looking at traditional Islamic textiles, then re-interpreting the patterns to create my own designs – I hope to post images of my own textile designs soon! I know that the Islamic world has a very rich and varied tradition of textiles, nonetheless, I never cease to be amazed by the beauty and vibrancy of the work. The ones that I’ve posted below were too good not to share. Enjoy! 

Now, I wouldn’t mind owning one of these Arabian thobes!

These designs are silks from Morocco. I love the colour combinations – pink, yellow, orange, green, purple and white all together in one textile – sounds like an odd combination when I say it out loud, but somehow it works visually. Whenever I see great colour ways – whether it be in art, fashion or nature, I long to try them out in painting and understand why they work. Watch out for some of my Islamic textile-inspired colour combos coming soon!

The next design is an ikat from Indonesia.  In most textiles, the fabric is woven first, then dyed, painted, printed or embroidered with a pattern. I was fascinated to learn that the fibres of an ikat (meaning “to tie or bind” in Indonesian) are dyed before weaving, so that the pattern emerges within the textile as the fabric is woven. There is a symbolic significance to this method of production – ikat weavers see this process as a metaphor for the way in which the will and plan of the Divine Artisan is a mystery to us, only to be revealed by His leave. Several years ago, I wrote an article entitled Magic Carpets and Woven Air about my friend Rezia Wahid, who is a textile artist specialising in Bangladeshi textiles and ikats. The full text can be read on Rezia’e website by looking under the “articles” section and clicking on Magic Carpets and Woven Air.

An Indonesian embroidery:

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