(Roughly) Daily

A Pattern Language…

Your correspondent recalls his first (high school field trip) visit to U.N. Headquarters, on which a tour guide explained that the gargantuan Persian carpet then hanging in the atrium had, hidden in the extraordinary intricacy of its pattern, one small “error”– placed there by the weavers “because only God is perfect,” a striking injunction to humility.  But the more fundamental lesson lay in the minutely interconnected design of the rug itself:  on the one hand ordered and symmetrical; on the other, chaotic and overwhelming– it was a metaphor for life itself.

What was true of that carpet is true more generally of (the best of) Islamic art and design, as the reader can see at Pattern in Islamic Art, a collection of thousands of arresting images.

…this marvellous artistic tradition deserves to be better known and that it has a great deal to offer, not only to art-historians and other specialists, but to designers and lovers of art and beauty everywhere. At their best these images express a refined and even sublime aesthetic sensibility, but they always remain perfectly accessible. Because of this they seem to me to offer a particularly appropriate antidote to the fears and suspicions that may have been induced by recent notions of a “clash of civilisations.” The need to express and appreciate Beauty, through Art, is surely a universal human response.

(Apologies to Chris Alexander for the title of this post :-)

As we contemplate the chaos that lurks in order, we might recall that it was on this date in 79 CE that Mount Vesuvius erupted on the southeastern coast of Italy, devastating the prosperous Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum and killing thousands.

Computer-generated imagery of the eruption of Vesuvius in BBC/Discovery Channel’s co-production Pompeii.

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Written by LW

August 24, 2009 at 12:01 am

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