The School of Geometric Patterns in Islamic Arts (March, 2020)

Course 1:

Introduction to Decagonal Patterns in Islamic Arts

Course level: introductory/intermediate
Course dates:  March 23-27, 2020 (Mon. – Fri.)
Location: Istanbul Design Center, Istanbul

One of the typical Persian kundekari works.

Course description

This course is devoted to foundations of decagonal pattern design in Islamic arts. We will learn the fundamentals of the gereh method – the method that was used for many centuries in Central Asia to design geometric patterns. Then we will concentrate on some essential styles of decagonal patterns. The emphasis will be placed on Persian designs. We will cover most of the material from the red book that we used in spring 2019. However, a number of new designs will be added. One important addition will be the Isfahani inflation method. This method will be used for the final project.

Schedule – day by day

Day 1. Gereh and its rules, some basic styles of decagonal patterns
Day 2. Patterns on decagonal grids
Day 3. Proportions of patterns and constructions of contours
Day 4. Kukeldash Madrasah and Persian styles of decagonal patterns
Day 5. The Isfahani inflation method, final project.

Depending on our drawing skills some topics may change or move to the next day. Depending on the weather we may have an excursion or excursions to some mosques in Istanbul or other places. The excursion(s) will be after teaching hours. Some of these places are far away. Thus you will need comfortable shoes if you want to visit remote places.

Course 2:

Geometric Patterns from Topkapi Scroll

Course level: advanced
Course dates:  March 30 (Mon) – April 3 (Friday), 2020
Location: Istanbul Design Center, Istanbul

Pattern created using one of the techniques from Topkapi scroll

Course description

Topkapi scroll is a famous collection of historical geometric patterns. Many of them are decagonal patterns. For this reason, this course will be available only for those participants who completed the introductory course where we covered decagonal patterns. We did such a course in spring 2019 and, of course, we will do it on March 23-27, 2020. The course is not extremely difficult but the amount of drawing will be large. Thus your drawing skills are essential.

Although Topkapi scroll is stored in the Topkapi Museum its content is completely Persian. Thus the course will be a celebration of Persian pattern design. All examples in this course will be taken from Topkapi scroll but they will be also illustrated by real designs from Iran (Isfahan area). We will discuss also a number of examples that are not on the scroll but they follow the same designing techniques as patterns from the scroll. The two Persian inflation techniques will be examined and used in designing complex patterns. We will show how designers used them to create large panels in Chahar Bagh Theological School and a few other places.

Currently, there is no textbook for this course. You will have to make your own notes. For this reason, you may need an extra notebook.

One of the elements of this course will be excursions to Istanbul mosques. But we have to remember that most of the patterns in Istanbul are more complex Ottoman style designs. However, we still will be able to find a few typical Persian style designs. We will be also gathering information for an advanced course on Ottoman designs and kundekari art. If time permits we will discuss techniques of drawing patterns for kundekari designs and/or mirror designs.

Materials for both courses

Both courses are hand drawing courses. You will need some very basic tools and materials. Although Istanbul Design Centers provides all these materials you still can bring your favorite pencils, compasses, etc.

Here is a complete list:

  1. Two pencils – one soft (it can be something between 2B and 6B), one hard pencil (F or H).
  2. Tracing paper and drawing cardboard (both A4). Many patterns in the second course will be done on a large scale (A3 at least). Thus for the second course, we may need drawing cardboard A3 size.
  3. Compasses, ruler and one drawing triangle (just one and it doesn’t matter with which angle: 30 or 45 degrees). Note – there is no drawing triangle for decagonal angles 18, 36, 54 and 72 degrees. We will have to make them on our own.
  4. Pigment liner e.g. uniPIN Fine Line (0.5) or Staedtler 308 (0.5), etc.


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