Examining Safavid Biomorphic Patterns in Design

PhD Thesis

Alhamal, E. 2022. Examining Safavid Biomorphic Patterns in Design. PhD Thesis University of East London School of Architecture, Computing & Engineering https://doi.org/10.15123/uel.8q3y6
AuthorsAlhamal, E.
TypePhD Thesis

This study explores the ways in which Islamic biomorphic patterns can be utilised within modern designs. The term “biomorphic patterns” refers to stylised natural forms that are used to decorate architectural surfaces and objects. These patterns have been used since the 7th century in Islamic architecture, but biomorphic patterns is still an understudied research area in the literature on Islamic art. The research primarily aims at developing an understanding of rules and principles of biomorphic patterns during the Safavid period (1502–1722) in Islamic Persia.

As a practicing artist and researcher, I employ a practice-based research methodology which includes experimenting with ceramic tile techniques and analysing Safavid biomorphic patterns produced on ceramic tiles of two prominent mosques: Sheikh Lutf Allah and Shah Mosques in Isfahan. My in-depth analysis of these patterns incorporates examining the underlying geometric structures; identifying forms of symmetry and the way motifs are multiplied; and investigating the structuring elements of those motifs in detail to determine the relationship between the underlying rules and the potential for artistic interpretation and elaboration.

The outcomes of the thesis is a listing of biomorphic pattern principles and a motif database both of which can help artists and designers create their own biomorphic patterns. The analysis shows that the underlying geometry is essential to the overall pattern organisation, but it is not the only part of the pattern making process. The placement and the execution of motifs require a trained eye and a skilful hand. The thesis is concluded with two practical examples on how the motif database can be used, putting into practice and proving the necessary relationship between the biomorphic motif database and the formal construction process.

PublisherUniversity of East London
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.15123/uel.8q3y6
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Publication dates
Online03 Feb 2022
Publication process dates
Deposited03 Feb 2022
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