Latest comment: 3 years ago by Johnbod in topic Terminology

old stuffEdit

I deleted the section on ballet movement on this entry. There is already a link to Arabesque as ballet movement in disambiguation. The two topics are better organized seperately I believe. --H.Perowne 00:42, 3 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Somebody should put up a picture or two. Words can't really adequately describe an art style.

Hi Maveric -- hope you are offended that I removed the following -- Here's why:

  • It seemed too much like original research
  • that many citations can end up getting lost in edits
  • I really though it would be better to frame the article as 'what is x, further description of x' for now, until the interpretive part can be re-written in a more concise way that doesn't rely on citations :-) JHK


"There is no god but God and Muhammad is His messenger" Creed of the Umma (Islamic Community)

The prevalence of calligraphy and geometric forms in Islamic art is also due in part to an edict forbidding iconography uttered by the Prophet Muhammad (known as rasul Allah, the messenger of God -- Amer, lectures). Specifically, he states that during the Day of Last Judgment, God will ask such artists (iconographers) to breath life into their artwork. When they fail to do so, they will be condemned to hell.

The reason for this edict was to illustrate that only the One True God is capable of creating the material world. In fact the Arabic word for to-create, to-form and to-fashion are all the same. God, or Allah in the Arabic, is therefore both a divine Creator and a Musawwir, which means painter or artist (Wade, page 9). It is therefore absolute Hubris for an artist to even attempt to emulate any part of the material world in any sort of realistic way.


Amer, M. Lectures: Cultures of the Islamic World (Sacramento: CSUS, Spring 2000)

Bourgoin, J. Arabic Geometrical Pattern and Design (New York: Dover Publications, 1973)

Humbert, C. Islamic Ornamental Design (New York: Hastings House, 1980)

Petsopoulos, Y. Arabesques and Turbans: "Decorative Arts from the Ottoman Empire" (New York: Abbevile Press, 1982)

Wade, D. Pattern in Islamic Art (Lonon: Studio Vista, 1976)

When I get some time I'll revise the 'forbiding of images part', which is way, way overstated. Images are forbidden ONLY in the context of mosque-decoration. Indeed, there are frequently images of inanimate objects in early (c. 650-750) mosque decoration. The extension of aniconic decoration to Korans, in fact, is by analogy. It's never mentioned in the hadith. Every other aspect of Islamic art (metalwork, textiles, ceramics, mosaic decoration of houses, and MANUSCRIPTS) are full of images. Muhammad himself is often depicted in manuscript illuminations, though from the 14th century forward his face is usually obscured by a veil or by a sheet of flame (a kind of halo). --MichaelTinkler

Thank goodness for the Princess and her exhibit! I figured you'd do some major editing ;-) User:JHK

This is now much better! And speaking of the princess and her exhibition, let me also recommend Wijdan Ali, What is Islamic Art. --MichaelTinkler

Thanks Michael! It has been a group effort to be sure. --User:maveric149

Would it be suitable to mention here about the Ballet posture "Arabesque" or is there another page for that. If so, a disambig would be useful. 18:26, 5 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Arabesque is also an intrigue movie starring Gregory Peck and Sophia Loren. —Casey J. Morris 07:32, July 28, 2005 (UTC)

And how come no one's mentioning anything about the Arabesque as a musical form, e.g for piano (Schumann's "Arabeske" or the Arabesques of Debussy)?

Neoclassical arabesques in grotesque decor at Fontainebleau
An example of tiling: see tessellation
Strapwork: a minor element in arabesque

The ordinary meaning of "arabesque" in ornamentEdit

This article is all very well, but this is not what "arabesque" actually denotes in the history of the arts. Arabesque, with as much connection to "Arab" as "grotesque" has to grotta, is a repertory of scrolling, bifurcating calligraphic, non-geometric decorative ornament, whether filling panels or whole surfaces. "Arabesque" is defined in John Fleming and Hugh Honour, Dictionary of the Decorative Arts (1977; the Oxford Companion would say very much the same) as "Intricate and fanciful surface decorations based on rhythmic linear patterns of scrolling and interlacing foliage, tendrils, etc., usually covering the entire surface with a network of fine ornament in zigzags, spirals, knots, etc. Human figures are not used—as they are in grotesques." In the human figures they differ slightly from Fiske Kimball's description (in The Creation of the Rococo, 1943, p 55) of Jean Berain's arabesque ornament: "Again we findbroken opposite scrolls, with shells or palmettes radiating from their junctions, swirls of acanthus diverging from their volutes, with finials of interlacing bandwork. In many instances a figure occupies the incorporeal central tabernacle of bands and scrolls a figure standing perhaps on a scrolled pedestal garnished with a lambrequin and sheltered by a suspended valanced baldaquin. Such was the vocabulary and vocabulary of Berain's ornament..." Arabesque ornament can be found in thirteenth to sixteenth century illumninated manuscripts. A good start is Peter Ward-Jackson, "Some main streams and tributaries in European ornament 1500-1750: Part II: The Arabesque" in Victoria and Albert Museum Bulletin July 1967. I have the issue here in the library somewhere... But I think, since the common perception of arabesque is so far from what is confidently presented in this article, it would be an uphill struggle. The Wikipedia reader should be made aware of the dislocation here, but this article is not on my Watchlist. --Wetman 21:23, 16 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Strange then that the Grove Dictionary of Art says: "Over the centuries the word has been applied to a wide variety of winding and twining vegetal decoration in art and meandering themes in music, but it properly applies only to Islamic art." The Oxford Companion is not so emphatic, but covers Islamic art "one of the most ubiquitous features of Muslim decoration" before turning to Western art. Johnbod (talk) 03:50, 25 March 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Arabic art shouldn't redirect hereEdit

Arabic art is not the same as arabesque (talk) —Preceding comment was added at 21:01, 9 January 2008 (UTC dolce dance studio can show it to you

Now fixed. Johnbod (talk) 18:16, 10 March 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Total Rewrite neededEdit

I agree with the comments above. This subject is properly about a style of European art derived from Arabic sources. Arabesque is a French word denoting "like Arabic". It is not about the prototype itself nor about motifs in Arabic art per se. The whole article needs rewriting, perhaps with a transfer of parts of the existing text to an article on Arabic art. Also, the template is far too obtrusive and wide-ranging, for which reason I have removed it. (Lobsterthermidor (talk) 18:06, 10 March 2011 (UTC))Reply[reply]

I disagree, as the term is also widely used in the art history of Islamic art - see this gbooks search. Anyway, that is what the article we have is mainly about. There is no "style of European art derived from Arabic sources" as such, but motifs called arabesque are used at various times & places in Europe, as Wetman articulates above. The article, like nearly all on this subject area, is of course currently pretty poor. Johnbod (talk) 18:22, 10 March 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Firstly, let me apologise for not having noticed your posting above. If you have seen the term Arabesque used to describe Islamic art proper, it has been incorrectly used. WP is not about following incorrect precedent. As I have explained above the French word Arab-esque means "alike to Arabic" that is to say "derivative". It cannot therefore apply to Arabic art itself, i.e. the real thing from which it derives. Arabesque was a term coined to describe a phenomenon in European art, whilst the text of this article is about the Arabic prototype from which it derived. "Arabic motif" may not be a perfect nomenclature, but it is at least not inaccurate. Arabesque is a misleading and plain incorrect title for the text contained in this article. See previous comments on this page supporting my assertion. What is the term in Arabic for the motifs described? That might be a better solution, anglicised. You say the article is pretty poor - I think it is a good article on Arabic motifs, which as you say can be improved as can any article. A new article is needed titled "Arabesque" which can be referenced to the content of the text here, explaining how Arabesques were developed by European artists from true Arabic motifs. (Lobsterthermidor (talk) 19:13, 10 March 2011 (UTC))Reply[reply]

This is just comical! The very first ghit on the link I gave is from a recent British Museum book by Sheila Canby, the head of their Islamic dept and the other entries round up the cream of art historians specializing in Islamic art. You will see lower down that Oleg Grabar has written complaining that the use of the term in Islamic art history is an Orientalist construct, but that is just futher evidence of its universal usage in the subject. But you and your 1959 Penguin book, which as quoted does not in fact support you, know better! What is the logic of your "therefore" in "It cannot therefore apply to Arabic art itself"? There is none. Johnbod (talk) 21:20, 10 March 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

You have not addressed the crux of the matter in the postings you refer to, namely the fact that arabesques are derivative forms: "A flowing linear decoration" (Penguin Dict. of Art & Artists, 1959); "A design of flowing lines, from French, from Italian arabesco in the Arabic style" (Collins Dict. of the English Language, 1986). The current text is not about such European patterns, as it should properly be, but rather about their Arabic prototypes. I have again replaced my text pending your posting here of a substantial discussion of the constructive points I have here raised.(Lobsterthermidor (talk) 19:45, 10 March 2011 (UTC))Reply[reply]

The crux of the matter is what the term is used to describe. It occupies a far more prominent place in histories of Islamic art than of Western art, and there is no overall term in English, or as far as I know in Arabic or Persian, that is an alternative. The etymology is beside the point. The OED definitions 1.2 and 2, which I can't be bothered to retype, do not support your position at all, not that they are always very reliable for art terms. Nor do the sources you yourself quote give any hint that the term is restricted to describing Western art. It is a strange argument that a term meaning "Arab-style" cannot be used to describe Arab objects, especially when the evidence of usage is overwhelmingly the other way. Johnbod (talk) 21:07, 10 March 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I have reverted your further changes also. You have produced no references at all for these radical changes, and the comparable google search gives, remarkably, no matches at all: "Your search - "arab motif" "Islamic art" - did not match any documents". None of the first page of the 110 results for plain "Arab motif" [1] relate to abstract decorative motifs at all - most relate to literature or the iconography of figurative art. Same for the 116 results for "arabic motif". Please find out more about subjects before starting pages moves and drastic text changes. You are welcome to start Arabesque in European art, which is what you probably need, although it could remain as a section here. Johnbod (talk) 21:29, 10 March 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
My post below was written before I had a chance to read your last. I would be entirely happy to start a new article Arabesque in European art as you suggest, but would suggest a corresponding qualification be made to the title of the present article, i.e. Arabesque in Islamic art, if we can agree that the two forms are different. There will need to be some text in each article describing the relation between the 2 forms, i.e. like the short sentence I added to the current intro. which you have reverted. (Lobsterthermidor (talk) 22:25, 10 March 2011 (UTC)) Original post follows: Thank you for your response. I am quite happy to let the text stand pending a substantive discussion on the topic here. Of course there is an Arabic or Persian term for it, but don't ask me what it is. I believe the etymology does indeed matter greatly, for every article in WP (which is why a section of that title is so widespread), and not to do so validates the sloppy use of language and terminology, which is to the detriment to readers of WP. The Romance termination -esque is from the Latin inceptive -esco, signifying a beginning and growth therefrom. This signifies that arab-esque was something which had its beginning from something Arabic, that is to say it was similar to Arabic, but still derivative only. The true sense of arabesque is a voluted, curvaceous, flowing form, I believe based precisely on the Arabic foliage patterns in the mosque at Damascus, but don't quote me on that. It has nothing at all to do with the intricate angular geometric patterns shown in some of the images in this article, and that is what is so very misleading. I have gone back to the French word itself in Larousse, probably more reliable for French terms than the OED in which you place little trust: "(italien arabesco, 1546 (i.e. a Renaissance phenomenon)). Ensemble de lignes sinueuses et entrelacees, tracees avec un certain souci de decoration; multiplier les arabesques dans sa signature (i.e. make his signature more twirly)... La fumee decrivait dans le ciel d'elegantes arabesques, syn. volute (Smoke swirls...synonymous to volute, essentially a curved, twirly form)...L'arabesque de Rubens, de Matisse, etc. (Rubens was surely particularly known for his rounded forms). Here is the evidence for the exact meaning of the term as used in English, which Penguin terms "flowing linear decoration". It is a term of art-history in both languages with the same fundamental significance: Curvaceous, sinuous, voluted forms. I think the Penguin dictionary has it right. To see a true mediaeval European arabesque, see Diapering, where it is shown on the field of the arms of the See of Worcester. (Lobsterthermidor (talk) 22:25, 10 March 2011 (UTC))Reply[reply]
I entirely agree that "voluted, curvaceous, flowing form"s are what the term means; in fact the sense is pretty much the same within Western and Islamic art. I said above that the currect article was poor (at one earlier point you thought it good on Islamic art, but it isn't at all); the text is vague & at least one picture (the roof tiles) just wrong. It is rarely a good idea to try to work out the meaning of an English word, as arabesque has been since at least 1611 (OED's earliest use), from a French dictionary, though here there is not much difference. I hope we have now got over the idea that the term is restricted to Western art. I will start a rewrite; personally I think that until the article is far longer both East and West can share the same article. Johnbod (talk) 00:40, 11 March 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Maximum Respect for your recent & ongoing rewrite. This article has the potential to be really good if it remains open-minded to both distinct senses of the term, which really do seem to exist rightly or wrongly. The argument we have been engaging in here needs to be discussed in the article itself in some form, i.e. the controversy which does exist on the 2 sides of the debate. The article must bring the reader the essence of the debate, and I do think some etymological text will be required. If both viewpoints are to be given equal weight (as I would hope), and definitely mentioned in the intro. itself, there is no point my resuming my argument here, but I will just mention my further thoughts on the issue for the record: 1) Rubens did not paint "Rubensesque art", only his imitators did. Arab artists likewise never created "Arabesque art", but rather the real thing. 2)Mention, or rather great emphasis, needs to be made of the fact that Islam forbids the depiction of human, even corporeal forms, considered idolatrous. I can't supply chapter & verse, which will need to be sourced. This is the reason why Arab artists devoted all their creativity into abstract forms. 3) In view of 2, virtually all Arabic art is abstract & linear (sinuous or angular), thus it must consist almost purely of what you term "arabesques". In other words, can you point out any common Arabic art forms which are not what you would call "arabesques"? If not, then Arabesque by your definition is indeed synonymous with Arabic art, as the article stated prior to one of your edits yesterday. But I'm not trying to destroy that understanding of the term - I still think it's technically incorrect - but accept it as an alternative common usage. I have located an image of the mosaics? on the external walls of the Treasury at the Great Mosque of Damascus, which I believe to be the ultimate inspiration for the European voluted form, probably seen during the Crusades. See

Sinuous forms on the Treasury, Great Mosque, Damascus. Inspiration for the European artform the arabesque

, taken from the WP article on the mosque itself. An even better image exists here: [2]. hope you will work this into your re-write, which I shall leave you to write, and perhaps suggest some edits when completed. (Lobsterthermidor (talk) 20:30, 11 March 2011 (UTC))Reply[reply]

Thanks! It will take me some time to work through the rewrite; much of this was new to me. I recommend the first two links on the google search above, which I am using as references - Canby is short & succinct, & Tabbaa gives an overview of the art historical debates, and is very cutting about the "Islamic view of the world" trope, represented by most of the original article here. I'm not sure what to do about that stuff - maybe move it out to Islamic geometric patterns bolstered by refs from the 3rd & 4th google hits, and other books which present this view. I refer to the Damascus mosque & will add more on this and other early sites; the decoration there is essentially Byzantine, produced by imported craftsmen; most European "arabesque" forms derive relatively little from actual Muslim work, but from Roman and Western medieval forms. It is very common to greatly exaggerate the absence of human figures in Islamic art, as both Canby and Tabbaa point out. As my writing in this area is mostly about Persian miniatures (and Mughal & Ottoman ones), where there are only a very few that don't contain figures, and most contain many, I'm very conscious of this! The division between "arabesque" and "geometric" Islamic decorative forms is treated differently by different writers, as I say, and more will be added on this, though I doubt it will be possible to define a clear boundary. Much of the art using arabesques is Persian, Turkish or Central Asian rather than "Arab" as such. Johnbod (talk) 20:57, 11 March 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Here's a better image of the Treasury, with pronounced volutes.
Volutes on Treasury, Great Mosque, Damascus
Point taken about Byzantine artists, who were however influenced by Arabic art themselves, for example the church decoration of Sicily. It would be useful if an attempt could be made to state when and where European artists first saw this style: the Normans in Sicily, the Crusaders, the Venetians...etc. A complex issue I know. (Lobsterthermidor (talk) 21:14, 11 March 2011 (UTC))Reply[reply]


OED: arabesque:A species of mural or surface decoration in colour or low relief, composed in flowing lines of branches, leaves, and scroll-work fancifully intertwined. Also fig.As used in Moorish and Arabic decorative art (from which, almost exclusively, it was known in the Middle Ages), representations of living creatures were excluded; but in the arabesques of Raphael, founded on the ancient Græco-Roman work of this kind, and in those of Renaissance decoration, human and animal figures, both natural and grotesque, as well as vases, armour, and objects of art, are freely introduced; to this the term is now usually applied, the other being distinguished as Moorish Arabesque, or Moresque. wierd!!

Moresque: n. Arabesque ornament; an example of this. 1458 in J. Raine Testamenta Eboracensia (1855) II. 266 Sir Thomas praith his seid executors that‥thai delyvere to William Chaworth‥iij peces of silver‥the which oon of thaym coveryth, another with a flatt knoppe and with a Moresk yeron. adj. Of painting, carving, architecture, etc.: Moorish in style or ornamental design. - Cotgrave Rebesk adj. :Obs. rare. = arabesque adj. 1. ?a1549 Inventory Henry VIII (1998) 25/2 Item one Cuppe of Agathe the fote and Couer of siluer and guilt enbossed with Rebeske worke.

Still too Islam-centricEdit

I must congratulate you on the amount of work you have done in the rewrite. I am sorry to say that I still have the same concerns. Firstly, it is too essay-like, presenting a fait-accompli which discourages future edits, tending to fossilisation. This article must remain dynamic. For that reason I would like to see more structure & sections which can invite & lead to future growth of such sections. But more importantly, it still confounds all elements of Islamic figurative art from all over the Islamic world as one genre. This cannot be right and is misleading. These widely disparate motifs need to be sub-categorised, the sources are certainly there to enable this. To include the art of Cordoba and Samarkand as homogenous under any name, arabesque or other, is not tenable and serves no purpose. It adds confusion to the concept of the arabesque, which is now even more un-graspable than before. It has become a catch-all term for anything Islamic, which cannot be correct. There are 6 1/2 pages on "Islamic Arabesque" - thus admitted as being a separate concept, and less than 1 page on "Western Arabesque". The weighting is skewed. But more importantly, I am reaching the conclusion that the 2 forms are really too different & unrelated to fit comfortably and relevantly within the same article. The Western arabesque has its origins in Imperial Roman art, as depicted on the Ara Pacis (tempus Augustus) for example, where twining acanthus plants can be seen. It then was taken up, little altered, by Byzantine artists as can be seen at Rome Santa Maggiore apse, 432-40; Ravenna, Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, c.440; Great Mosque, Damascus, 7th.c., Byzantine as you pointed out; Dome of the Rock, Byzantine, mosaic in octogon, 691-2; San Clemente apse, c.1200. (Source: Talbot-Rice, D. Byzantine Art, Penguin 1968 & an excellent article in Encyc. Brit. 9th. ed.). This distinct voluted motif, and its complex historical inter-relationship with the Grotto-esque needs much more development. I can see less and less in common with these acanthus arabesques compared with your images on Islamic arabesques, and the sources I have confirm that. The Ara Pacis, Domus Aurea & Pompeii (all 1st c. AD) are the real stumbling blocks to attempting to make an equation between Islamic & Western arabesques. It is an impossible task. Chalk & cheese come to mind. In fact it seems that the term arabesque as coined in the Italian renaissance was a complete misnomer which happened to stick. They meant "Byzantine" but lacked knowledge of art history. They had yet to discover the buried Imperial prototypes of the Grottoesques at Rome & Pompeii, which would have discouraged their use of even the term Byzantine. I am therefore minded to create a new article "Arabesque (western art)" where these forms and the usage of the word (i.e. OK for a blacksmith or designer to use it as descriptive of a shape for wrought-iron, but the art-historian should use it advisedly and with great care) can be properly discussed in the isolation they seem to require, and would therefore suggest that the present article should concentrate fully on the Islamic variety and change its title to "Arabesque (Islamic art)". No doubt you will leave me the space to create such an article over the next 2 weeks or so, and let me have your comments on it then. (Lobsterthermidor (talk) 22:27, 16 March 2011 (UTC))Reply[reply]

Moresque ornament, Peter Flötner
I agree that - as I try to say in the first sentences - the term as now used takes two particular stretches from different branches of the same huge movement in floral decoration. I would write more on the Western arabesque if I could work out what it meant - it really seems terminally vague and confused, & I think is avoided by many writers for this reason. I don't agree with your "derivation" of the style above. The Le Brun carpet, which pretty closely matches Osborne's description of the style (sadly unillustrated) seems clearly largely derived from 17th century Ottoman carpets, which themselves were recently influenced by Western styles, with an added dash of French classicism. The panel I illustrate, now at Moresque, also appears to be what the term meant, & is clearly very much influenced by Islamic art. Other decorative plant motifs, such as conventional Baroque garlands etc, more directly descended from Late Antique styles, would not be called "arabesque" I think - for that you need either an influence from Islamic or earlier Roman grottesci styles, it seems to me. Do you have good sources on the Western arabesque; I have been concentrating on the Islamic side, but haven't seen many? Maybe we should become completely clear as to what it was before moving it out?
On the other point, it is entirely in tune with the way art historians write about Islamic art to cover under "arabesque" motifs from the 9th to the 17th centuries, and from Cordoba to Samarkand - see the Canby link I recommended above. They are clearly part of the same development. Writers on Islamic art always make the point that, especially in the earlier periods, stylistic and technical innovations could move very quickly across the Islamic world, initially a single state. As I say, some writers include in the term purely linear geometric patterns which seem derived from, or like schematics for, patterns with plants. I agree that the Eastern & Western terms are, not unrelated, but certainly different subjects. Even so, I would be very sorry to see either lose the plain title, which gets a HUGE number of views - maybe they are all looking for ballet, I don't know. I am still working on the area, despite diversions. One thing that would be good to have is a well-illustrated summary survey of the whole development of plant decorative scrolls and motifs etc, to which one could link, including Insular, Anglo-Saxon, Carolingian, Romanesque, Gothic and so on, rather than the two stretches that have landed with the name of "arabesque". Johnbod (talk) 23:04, 16 March 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think we are now viewing the same problem, as you put it "it really seems terminally vague and confused, & I think is avoided by many writers for this reason". I agree completely. The challenge as I see it is to grasp this nettle and define it, with the benefit of all the sources available, which when combined seem to point to something very definite, in my mind at least. I am particularly swayed by the on-going use by the French of the term to describe swirls of rising cigarette smoke, synonymous to volutes. From what I have read and absorbed the essence of the arabesque (making the term a total misnomer as the sources admit) is the acanthus swirls sculpted on the Ara Pacis,
Ara Pacis: the Tellus panel. 1st.c. A.D. The scroll-work below I believe to be the essence of the "Western arabesque"
an Imperial Roman form. There are similar forms using grape-vines, where the tendrils are the volutes, bunches of grapes being visible. This form, almost unchanged, crops up again & again over the following centuries, in Byzantine art & in Renaissance art. (See Talbot-Rice, plates 109-115, which shows the motif in various ages). This seems to me be to be the precise motif which all the confused and contradictory sources for the (Western) arabesque have in common. I would like to include a simplified line drawing of such a form as the introductory image, to fix it in the reader's mind, and then go on to illustrate its development and discuss the complexities of its nomenclature. Interestingly it seems the term was coined in 1546, 12 years after grotto-esque (per Larousse). Ideally these sources should be consulted to see exactly what was being referred to. I don't have access to the Italian equivalent to the OED listing first recorded literary sources. The article could thus describe the development of the motif from the Ara Pacis to the modern blacksmith's forge, almost unchanged throughout. To address your points above: The Le Brun carpet you have illustrated, (the central panel and roundels I take it are irrelevant here) I would suggest is very late to use as an example, not perhaps an example of the pure form, but the basic pattern of voluted acanthus, i.e. "Western arabesque", is still there in the border. I suspect the Ottoman carpets you cite as a source were perhaps copied from the Byzantine (as you pointed out) "Western arabesques" of the Treasury at Damascus, which are exactly the same as those on the apse mosaic of Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome, 432-40. (See WP article on Basilica di San Clemente to which I have added an image of an almost identical mosaic, but much later, c.1200, & compare to my image above of Damascus). Garlands, agreed, something completely different, made of laurel leaves, and I think well defined and understood. As to Anglo-Saxon scrolls etc., I agree that the Arabesque is a sub-set, but I would like to see first a clear, concise stand-alone article on the western arabesque, perhaps linked as "main article" to a future umbrella article on scrolls. It is regretful that the article needs to be split into 2, but the more one looks at it the more tenuous is any logical link, to such a degree that I would suggest the reader be warned by a "not to be confused with" tag at the very top of each article, referencing the other. Incidentally would "Arabesque (European art)" be preferable to "(Western art)". It includes Constantinople I would think. I will create a separate article, including your material on the rabeschi & "rebeske", and "run it up the flagpole". (Lobsterthermidor (talk) 18:51, 17 March 2011 (UTC))Reply[reply]
We should not force clear definitions where none exist. I note the OED (quoted this page, next to the links)& Fleming (quoted above by Wetman) appear to distinguish the arabesque from the moresque & grotesque in opposite ways, on the issue of whether it includes figures or not. Osborne's stuff in the article I quote is I presume referring essentially to French usage of the French word, which may be more specific; at least he has a definite idea what he means. But I don't think any art historian would call the Ara Pacis scrolls arabesques as a technical term, nor the Western medieval vegetal scrolls. As I try to say in the intro, the use of the term for Western art is strictly for the Renaissance & onwards. As I say above it would be excellent to have an overall survey of the history of ornamental foliage but it should not be under the title of "Arabesque", which is simply not used as a technical term for periods before 1500 in the West. History of plant ornament sounds dry perhaps, or Plant motifs in art; ideally one would not exclude either Ancient Egypt, where it all begins, or the Middle East & Asia. I've found to my susprise that there is no illustrated account of this on the web, or if there is it is well-hidden. But you need solid references for this.
The "swirls of rising cigarette smoke" etc come from another derivative sense, like the ballet usage, where it means just a single line that twists & turns in on itself, from penmanship - a "flourish" as Cotgrave said in 1611; I mention this sense in the last sentence. The Elizabethan "rebeske work" may have simply been flourishes like that for all we can tell, with no suggestion of foliage. Somewhere on Commons there is a good image for this, but I gave up trying to find it again. It was a 16th & 17th century fad - see here; only pretty loosely connected to the other sense - I've added a different pic now. There are various other derivative senses, used in titles of works by Schlegel & Edgar Allen Poe, who as usual seem to mean rather different things by the word. The Ottoman carpets drew more from Italian Renaissance ornament prints & similar sources, I'm pretty sure - these ideas were recycling pretty fast at that period. Johnbod (talk) 21:13, 17 March 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Actually I have found I have more sources on the Western arabesque, so will be able to add more. These do tie the arabesque/moresque more directly to Islamic influence. Johnbod (talk) 03:34, 18 March 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

New article Arabesque (European art)Edit

Please see the new article now created as discussed above, before reading both of your last postings above. It should provide a basis for discussion. It is something concrete to build on, I trust. Your point as to correct usage re Ara Pacis, well made, and emphasised in the new article. The term is shown to be a misnomer, well-avoided by the art historian. I have used as many of your points in the original article under the section "Western arabesque" along with some of the images. I have mentioned prominently in the intro. the confusion, error and contradiction which exists in much of the literature, which I think we are now both fully aware of. We must discriminate between the reliable & unreliable sources. To repeat the confusion of clearly confused sources in an indiscriminate fashion is unproductive, I would suggest. (Lobsterthermidor (talk) 16:18, 18 March 2011 (UTC))Reply[reply]

Article renamed Arabesque (Islamic art)Edit

The 2 articles have now been separated, with the minimal necessary re-editing & re-organisation of the existing text, and entries provided for each in the disambiguation page. "Not to be confused with" notices have also been added to each article at the top. (Lobsterthermidor (talk) 14:15, 24 March 2011 (UTC))Reply[reply]

Without any prior proposal or discussion? When you have already had a very similar title move reverted? When I have already expressed the opinion that the other article is mistitled, as it actually covers a far wider subject, and when this article clearly covers Western arabesques as well? This is getting very tiresome, and is unproductive. You have also made major undiscussed changes prior to the move in a way that makes it impossible to revert them. I don't think these are an improvement. There is now no proper definition in the lead for example. Johnbod (talk) 15:38, 24 March 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Not fair or true to say there's been no prior discussion. There's been a very great amount. I specifically messaged your user page when your input here ceased, without response. I mentioned the choices of new article title above even before that without receiving your comment. The previous title move was very productive in sparking the productive debate had here above, started without progress by former contributors to this talk page, and the current move is informed by the debate had. I think we have both discovered that it is impossible to make an adequate definition which covers the 2 types of arabesque, which are only tenuously related if at all. That has certainly been my understanding from the confused sources we both identified. My paramount aim is clarity for the reader, who is still nevertheless informed of the existence of attempts to make a link between the 2 forms, the often incredible arguments for which are impossible to relate clearly because they are so slight and confused. I think each article is now much better placed to develop its own theme in detail, and attempts to relate the 2 forms can still be added if required, but I would suggest as a very subsidiary section, once the form covered by the article in question has been examined thoroughly. My changes to the article were minimal and largely just re-ordering to fit in with the split into 2 articles, I stated that fully in the edit summary/talk page. I purposely left the remains of the section "Western arabesque" in place with a view to a 2-step removal to the new article, which has actually already incorporated most of the text & images, including your own recent contributions. (Lobsterthermidor (talk) 21:32, 24 March 2011 (UTC))Reply[reply]
Nonetheless the move today came as a surprise, and if it had been proposed I certainly would have objected, as you must have been aware from my previous comments. You certainly did get a response on my talk page, and you be be hearing plenty more about this. Your new article is mistitled - most of what it covers is not called "arabesque" by anyone. Nor is the connection between Islamic art and what are properly called arabesques in the West as tenuous as you think. Johnbod (talk) 23:12, 24 March 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I made the following post above on 17th. March: Incidentally would "Arabesque (European art)" be preferable to "(Western art)". It includes Constantinople I would think. I will create a separate article, including your material on the rabeschi & "rebeske". That is a full consultation. You did not object to this proposal, or give your opinion as to which title for the new article would be preferable. The new article is not mistitled, it deals with a form originating in Roman art (European), was carried on by Greek Byzantine artists based in Constantinople (Europe) and was taken up again in renaissance Italy (Europe). The article explains this clearly, using sources. If you prefer the title "Arabesque (Western art)" (the exact term used by you in your sub-section, written without consulting me) I would not object. Your very creation of such a sub-section implies that you yourself do believe the two forms to be different. The issue over correct usage of the term is fully discussed within the new article, see section "Art-historians vs. designers". I am beginning to feel that you are being unconstructive in attempting to block progress & development in the treatment of this subject. I refer you to the previously existing posts to the talk page complaining about the conflated and confused treatment of this subject within a single article, for example by Wetman. (Lobsterthermidor (talk) 00:04, 25 March 2011 (UTC))Reply[reply]
Wetman's objections to the use of the term for Islamic art, like yours, were simply wrong; I think we have got beyond that. You do not seem to have read my reply to your 17/3 post, which in any case did not mention renaming this article. I am only interested in accurate progress and additions, which in this complicated area may have to be done slowly. The term is confusing enough without introducing new meanings for it, which your article does - I can't agree with any of the sentences in the lead for example. No one calls the Ara Pacis reliefs arabesques as a technical term, nor are they at the start of anything, but well in the middle of a long development - see the gold crown from the tomb of Philip I of Macedon for example. I was entirely clear that any title using "arabesque" was wrong for an article covering 2,000 years! As I keep saying, your article is a start on a very useful and complicated subject, but that subject is not the arabesque, it is the development & revival of foliage scrolls. The sources you are using are also far too general, except for Grove (Turner), who you again think has got it all wrong (ok I agree the current online version is rather odd)! You admit that Talbot-Rice, your other main source that is any sort of work of art history, does not use the term at all for the things you are describing! Where does that leave you? I suggest we should be following his example. Properly restricted to decorative art from say 1480 onwards, there is clearly a style of ornament that has evident origins in Islamic styles, such as the Flotner panel above (unfortunately Commons does not have much in this style, but this sort of thing for example). The use of the term in Fuhring and bookbinding literature is much tighter than Osborne etc use, and makes more sense. This too is what we should be following. It is silly to hang an article on a term which you use differently from any of your sources, and keep having to claim they have got it all wrong. Change the title to an appropriate one & all of this is not needed, which is just as well it is currently very POV & unsourced. Johnbod (talk) 04:05, 25 March 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

We appear to be back to a more constructive dialogue, good. I have now seen your post, I had expected the discussion to be continued here, not on your talk page, but nevermind. My article is purely on the European or Western arabesque, which is in shape a "formalistic acanthus composition", i.e. a voluted form. You cannot stop yourself writing about Islamic art in the context of the non-Islamic arabesque, which is unhelpful. To deal with your points raised. Ara Pacis: you are right to say it's incorrect for an art-historian to call it thus, exactly what the article and caption itself emphasises and very clearly explains. The term is a misnomer, and the reason for its being so needs to be explained by a discussion of the Ara Pacis, which is identical in form to the designs on the Treasury, Damascus, both identical in shape to what the renaissance Italians called the arabesque, a scrollwork motif within "grotto-esque" Imperial Roman compositions. The article explains why Talbot Rice does not use the term, indeed scrupulously avoids it, because he is an art-historian writing from an art-historic viewpoint. The WP article focusses on the motif for the designer & art-historian, covering its form and origin, thus the language needs to be differentiated. Your point is simply not valid. You state above: "No one calls the Ara Pacis reliefs arabesques as a technical term", yet a blacksmith or designer would not be incorrect to do so because he is not using the term in an art-historical context, he is merely identifying the shape for practical purposes by use of a term. Perhaps to use the term "swastika" of the motif on a greek vase would produce a similar problem, indeed perhaps the WP article on that topic could be consulted as a precedent. This article is aimed at both the art-historian and the modern designer, and explains the usage matter clearly. In 2,000 years the shape itself has changed not a jot, see the image of the Russian wrought-iron gates in my text, identical to the ara pacis form, and an article about it needs to discuss its origins. Turner's encyclopaedia is an erroneous source for this subject, full stop. I have referred to the paper volume itself. The Flotner panel is Islamic, not Western, it is not a formalistic voluted form. You say "It is silly to hang an article on a term which you use differently from any of your sources, and keep having to claim they have got it all wrong", correct, but that is what happens when the whole article is about a "misnomer", there's no other way of doing it. What was silly was the Italians calling something which had its origin in the classical world "Arabesque", we have to work with that legacy of a misnomer as best we can. The article in Encyc. Brit. 9th. ed. starts with: "Arabesque, a term to which a meaning is now commonly given that is historically incorrect". It seems I am following a credible precedent. All we can do is to explain its development & show why the term is a difficult one, but useful to the designer. Your essential difficulty is that you do not accept that the European arabesque is a "formalistic acanthus composition" of voluted form. You favour a much wider undefinable "concept", which is confused, in my opinion. That is the matter which needs to be resolved in this discussion. (Lobsterthermidor (talk) 14:41, 26 March 2011 (UTC))Reply[reply]

We are progressing, but slowly. You seem fixated on a small number of points in a much wider development, of which you seem largely unaware. You have made up your mind that you know exactly what an arabesque is, & that nobody else at all uses this word to cover the same set of things as you do does not deter you. We agree that "arabesque" can be used figuratively to describe any curly-twirly shape, whether made by an artist, a smoking cigarette, or somebody waving a stick. Is it then a helpful title for an article on a topic defined as narrowly as you define your chosen one, when you accept it is not the correct acdemic term? No. It is not as if there are no alternatives. To say "The Flotner panel is Islamic, not Western, it is not a formalistic voluted form" is just silly - you mean it does not meet your own made-up definition of the term. If it is Islamic, what is it doing being produced in the middle of Germany? What does "formalistic" mean here? Any pattern has a form, and might be called "formalistic" if you like, but it means nothing. "Formalistic" in art history means 'in a regular shape / composed of regular shapes' rather than realistic depiction(s), which applies equally to arabesques from East & West, and the majority of ornamental motifs in any style. In fact it is most often used to describe a way of analysing art, concentrating on the forms, which is exactly what we are trying to engage in here. There is absolutely no requirement for either sort of arabesque to use acanthus, nor volutes (where are they on your diapered shield by the way?); many definitions do specify the use of interlace, which most of your examples don't show, though other Western ones, and all of the Moresque ones, do. That is one point on which the OED, Fleming and Fuhring all agree, but the Ara Pacis has no interlacing. There is no point in us on WP deciding what a term ought to mean, and then treating it as though that is what it is generally used to mean, even if it clearly isn't. Johnbod (talk) 15:34, 26 March 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Requested moveEdit

The following discussion is an archived discussion of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the proposal was not moved. Clearly, this is more than about the naming of the articles in question, as the split of the two art articles is the crux of the issues. I suggest the two articles be merged and reconciled. At that point the issue of primary topic and article naming can be readdressed. - UtherSRG (talk) 12:30, 23 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Arabesque (Islamic art)Arabesque

or Arabesque (disambiguation)Arabesque

Arabesque had been changed to a disambiguation page with just two entries (I've reverted it to a redirect here as the status quo for now), and I wondered whether this article was the primary topic. If it is the primary topic, it should be moved to Arabesque per WP:PRECISION. If not, the disambiguation page should be moved there. Judging from Google results, I don't see a primary topic. Looking at Special:Whatlinkshere/Arabesque, there may be a primary topic, assuming most of the art-related links mean Arabesque (Islamic art), so I'm neutral for now.Relisted.--Aervanath (talk) 03:51, 15 March 2012 (UTC)relisted--Mike Cline (talk) 14:08, 29 February 2012 (UTC) TimBentley (talk) 16:51, 21 February 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • Support Islamic art as the WP:PRIMARYTOPIC. Islamic art is the No. 1 topic for this term. It's not 50 percent of the page views, but it is far more encyclopedic than the other meanings of "Arabesque". The Google Books results support this. Britannica gives this meaning as their "Featured Result," their version of primary topic. This article is the top Web result, so there should be no issue of the term leading to some other topic. It was viewed 27,000 times in the last 90 days, compared to 14,000 times for the ballet position, 7,500 times for the German disco group, 5,100 times for the film, 3,900 times for the Turkish music, and 1,500 for the European art form. Kauffner (talk) 20:34, 21 February 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Strong support; the page was moved to its present name from the plain word without discussion and in the middle of a dispute. Note that the article in fact covers arabesques in Western art too; the "European art" article is a load of OR nonsense by the same editor, and should be merged to this article (carefully, as most of its content is not about arabesques - see the lengthy discussions above, from section 4 onwards. Johnbod (talk) 05:19, 22 February 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Super military-grade oppose. (To the first suggestion, I mean.) The case simply has not been made. The "evidence" Kauffner gives from Googlebooks is worthless. Try instead a search on "the arabesque is", with restrictions "Preview and full view›21st century›Books". (That search circumvents problems with Googlebooks mysterious limit of 1000 in a sample, and yields current book literature that can be checked.) The evidence from pageviews (above) is neither comprehensive nor systematic, and takes no account of changing patterns with changing redirects that have been applied. Even as it is though, it does not show anything like a "primary topic". The term arabesque is very prominent in music, ballet, literature and the other arts, and not all of the senses are derived from the "Islamic art" sense. There are many articles listed at Arabesque (disambiguation). Why have they not been examined in an orderly way? So far I see no reason to remove a qualifier that serves the needs of many readers, and whose presence has no bad consequences for anyone. Prove me wrong. (Whoa, stop! With respect, wait: I said prove me wrong, not disagree just because your own specialty happens to be visual arts or architecture, or because you prefer to remove qualifiers whenever you can, no matter how harmless or helpful they might be.) NoeticaTea? 10:24, 22 February 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Back when you started this anti-primary topic crusade, it was supposedly to avoid giving undue emphasis to U.S-oriented topics. It is hard to see how that would be an issue here. Kauffner (talk) 11:43, 22 February 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • There's no question of any crusade, and questions of US bias are entirely irrelevant here. Focus on the present RM, with its present issues. And on the unpredictable needs of readers, who just want to find what they're looking for with a minimum of interference from sectional interests or competing ideologies concerning titles. NoeticaTea? 20:19, 22 February 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Oppose. Before merging, the talk page should be thoroughly reviewed to ascertain why it was felt necessary (not only by myself) to establish separate pages on the Islamic and European forms - basically because they are totally separate motifs. Unfortunately the art-historical literature has not tackled this micro-issue, which causes much confusion. Research into available sources has proved to my own satisfaction at least that even quite reputable authors are confused. Not to flag up such confusion to WP readers would be neglectful. My argument in summary is that the Renaissance Arabesque, a voluted form (consult the French Larousse dictionary which is in no doubt about the volute being the essence of the ("European") Arabesque) which derived from classical antiquity, has no relationship whatsoever with the intricate often geometrical designs, also known as "Arabesques", seen in mosques from Spain to the Middle East 600 years later. To lump both forms together in one article misleads the reader into believing that there is some relationship, either historical or pattern-wise. No such proof has been examined or proposed in the article on the Islamic form, which seeks to imply such linkage exists. If keeping the two articles separate continues to produce useful and constructive debate, all the better. (Lobsterthermidor (talk) 14:28, 22 February 2012 (UTC))Reply[reply]
This is just pure OR nonsense, as described at length above. Several specialist sources referenced in this article are entirely clear on the origin of the European arabesque. But perhaps we need to resolve the merge issue bwefore considering renames. Johnbod (talk) 14:32, 22 February 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Relisting comment: Please focus on the substance of the move discussion and do not question the motivations of the participants.--Mike Cline (talk) 14:09, 29 February 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • primary topic is wikt:arabesque - this is an adjective, or noun formed from the adjective, meaning something arabesque; of course it will have different applications to what is "arabic" in art, music, architecture, dance. But the primary topic is simply the idea of something being arabesque, which could be covered in a short lede on current arabesque page. In ictu oculi (talk) 15:55, 1 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Very few adjectives have articles, & this isn't one of them. Yes, there are several different noun meanings, a couple with articles, but they are distinct senses, as with other words. This approach doesn't help. The EB 1911 does not support your argument, but it also takes the same tack as the OED, described in the article, which is now outdated - the Grove dictionary of art (also OUP) takes a contradictory line, & that is 30 years old - see article again. I don't know why you quote wiktionary, which (perhaps correctly) describes the adjectival form as "obselete". You appear to be wrong that the nouns are formed from the adjective; OED shows the other way round. Johnbod (talk) 02:41, 2 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I linked wiktioniary because some contributors to discussion may not be aware that all these noun uses (ballet, musique, art) multiplied from adjective to noun, meaning that there is no clear primary meaning beyond simply being something arabesque. Hence Rachel Schmidt Forms of Modernity: Don Quixote and Modern Theories of the Novel Page 115 "Nonetheless, the figure can be pictured if we imagine a form transforming through time; this is, after all, the concept of an arabesque emerging in time." It isn't just art. In ictu oculi (talk) 16:07, 16 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Strong support: definitely the primary topic "Arabesque (Islamic art)" should be moved to "Arabesque" and "Arabesque" to "Arabesque (disambiguation)". Also per Johnbod and nominator.

  Relisted--Aervanath (talk) 03:51, 15 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • Oppose based on evidence so far: I originally closed this, but it was validly and politely objected to (see below), so I have reversed my close, relisted the move discussion at WP:RM, and will remove my admin hat for this discussion. I rely on WP:PRIMARYTOPIC for my oppose. That section does say that there is no one litmus test for what constitutes a primary topic, but it does give two frequently used criteria, usage and long-term significance. The criterion for usage is "much more likely than any other topic, and more likely than all the other topics combined—to be the topic sought when a reader searches for that term". Based on the statistics given above, this criterion is not met. (It's close, but doesn't reach that standard.) The standard for long-term significance is "substantially greater enduring notability and educational value than any other topic associated with that term". I'm not convinced that this criterion is met, either. I think that an in-depth analysis of the "significance" of the various other meanings of "arabesque" would show that at least one other use approached Islamic art in significance. It is possible that there are other criteria that would definitively establish this article as the primary topic, but I haven't seen one yet. Regards, --Aervanath (talk) 03:51, 15 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
As I've said above, we really need to delete the OR fork that is Arabesque (European art) before revisiting this. Arabesque (Islamic art) in fact covers European art too, and was just called "Arabesque" until LobsterThermidor renamed it without discussion after creating his fork. Johnbod (talk) 04:56, 15 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Oppose – probably there's no primary topic, between the art form and the ballet pose and other uses. But I do agree that the content fork needs to be undone, and maybe make Arabesque (art) or something like that. Dicklyon (talk) 05:54, 15 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, that would be the new name. Johnbod (talk) 13:01, 15 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Comment. If you look at the way other reference works handle this issue, there is no question that they consider the decorative art to be primary topic. See Columbia, Britannica, or A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. From the numbers I gave above, this subject gets 46% of the relevant traffic. It is certainly far more notable than the ballet position or any other meaning. Let's not hold primary topic designation hostage to an obscure 1970s disco group. Kauffner (talk) 10:15, 16 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Oppose -- I associate the term with a species of classical music. I consider that the dabpage should remain the primary article. Peterkingiron (talk) 13:26, 19 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

Post-RM discussionEdit

I must disagree with the way the closer is interpreting the relevant guideline. WP:PRIMARYTOPIC says, "A topic is primary for a term, with respect to usage, if it is highly likely—much more likely than any other topic, and more likely than all the other topics combined". So if a topic that gets more that 50 percent of the traffic, then it is primary by this standard. But there is no suggestion that only a topic that gets over 50 percent of the traffic can be primary. We even have an article that explains the logical fallacy involved: Affirmative conclusion from a negative premise. If the traffic standard is everything, why is there material in the guidelines about primary topics according to "long-term significance," or about disambiguation by detail? In the red meat/Red Meat example, only one of the two topics can possibly be responsible for 50 percent of the traffic, yet they are both primary. In addition, I do not think it is proper to base a close on a concern that never came up during the voting, which means there was no opportunity for supporters of the move to address it. Kauffner (talk) 16:22, 14 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I do concur with the fact that my concern was not brought up during the discussion. I will reverse my close and relist it so that can be addressed.--Aervanath (talk) 03:24, 15 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Reads like an essayEdit

The entire article, as it stands today, reads like an essay, or an op-ed article in a Sunday newspaper's arts magazine. I believe it to be replete with unsubstantiated opinion, and hereby request that the majority of the statements made in the article be adequately supported with citations from reputable secondary sources.

For example, the ignorance implicit in a statement like the following is inexcusable in an encyclopaedia:

... this is a reflection of unity arising from diversity (a basic tenet of Islam).

The basic tenet of Islam is rather the opposite: that the Unity - (at-tauhi:d) is primary, and that diversity arises from the will of the One, that is, the God (al-lah).

It is also nonsense for an article now called Arabesque (Islamic art) to have its first major section discussing the topic and its second major section discussing what is clearly the topic of another article, viz. Arabesque (European art) and not of this article.

yoyo (talk) 19:04, 26 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

See below. Johnbod (talk) 19:07, 26 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

-I second the comment above. The entire section on significance is especially glib, unsubstantiated opinion with junk "links" to other "resources"--for example, it calls Islamic-style arabesques "mathematically precise" where "mathematically" links to the article on Mathematics, instead of linking the phrase to perhaps research on the mathematical precision of arabesques/Islamic art (as one might expect in support of such a claim.) It borders on being biased. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:14, 28 August 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Proposed restructureEdit

Here is a proposal for restructuring the current article.

  1. It would be called Arabesque ornament (art).
  2. It would cover the ground of both present articles on arabesque ornament in Islamic and European art, which should be merged.
  3. It would contain material from both present articles, but only where that material makes assertions supported by citations from reputable sources.
  4. It would discuss the origins and use of arabesque ornament in the decorative arts in several sections, as below.

I propose these main sections for the combined article Arabesque ornament (art):

  1. The history of the usage of the term, including the confusion and contradictions in usage both within and between periods and places. An expanded and properly referenced version of the current lead paragraph should do nicely;
  2. (Possibly) Recommendations for definitions and usage of terms, if any such exist, from current art experts and professional organisations;
  3. Arabesque ornament in the Islamic world;
  4. Arabesque ornament in the European sphere of influence; and
  5. Arabesque ornament in the modern, globalised world.

Questions of the origins and sources of various sub-types of arabesque ornament should be addressed within each different sphere of influence.

A new, simpler and uncontroversial lead paragraph will also be needed.

yoyo (talk) 19:04, 26 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • If you read above here, & the talk at the other article, you will see that it has been bedeviled by problems. The "European" article is a POV fork that is frankly just wrong from start to finish, & should be renamed Spiral volute (the correct term for the subject; these things are simply not called arabesques in modern English) or just redirected to here. This article was once Arabesque but has now lost that & is unlikely to get it back. It should be Arabesque (art). Your support in achieving this would be very welcome.

I have re-written all the article except for the "Significance in Islam" section, which I lacked patience & good sources for. I'm aware it is waffly and dubious, & largely unreferenced. It could be referenced, but to sources of doubtful quality. You are very welcome to replace & improve on it, using sources of a quality similar to the rest of the article. I don't think the old editor(s) are around much. The other sections are very well referenced to excellent sources. What is controversial about the lead? Nothing. It could be longer, but should not be "simpler". A clear definition is needed at the start and verbally defining things in ornament is rarely "simple". Use of the term in art history for Eupropean art is just a mess, as several sources lower down testify. Plenty of material could be added on Islamic art history.

"Arabesque ornament in the modern, globalised world." By all means add a section. Not too much about derivative interior decoration please. Johnbod (talk) 19:26, 26 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

A belated "Thank you!" to Johnbod. This is the first time I've revisited the page since starting this talk page section in June 2012, and I'm pleasantly surprised: the treatment is now much better balanced than before. Yes, parts are still "waffly" and could do with some references to support them, mostly in the "Significance in Islam" section, which I also "lack … good sources for".
You asked: "What is controversial about the lead?" While it's now a quite judicious introduction to the topic, the final sentence is problematic:

Geometric decoration often uses patterns that are made up of straight lines and regular angles but are clearly derived as a whole from curvilinear arabesque patterns; the extent to which these too are described as arabesque varies between different writers.[6]

with the reference "[6]" being to pp 20-21 of Canby's book. As Google Books doesn't show page 21, I don't know whether it supports either of the assertions in the passage I quoted. The first of these: that "Geometric decoration often uses patterns that are … clearly derived as a whole from curvilinear arabesque patterns" is astounding and in my view it is mere unsubstantiated opinion. (Much more likely is that geometric decoration grew out of simple geometry, using circles and regular polygons to fill design spaces. And that any resemblance between the resulting designs and arabesques is an accidental by-product of a shared design constraint, that both are – only typically – infinitely extensible. I'm fairly sure that geometric decorative patterns are not derived from arabesques, but don't have sources to back this.) The second: that "the extent to which these [viz., geometric patterns - yoyo] too are described as arabesque varies between different writers" is plausible. However, page 20 of Canby doesn't support either assertion. If anybody has access to Canby, or can give another reference to replace it, please do. Absent that, I'm inclined to replace the words: "but are clearly derived as a whole from" by: "that somewhat resemble", vague and waffly though that may be …! yoyo (talk) 16:23, 31 August 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks! I don't have the Canby, & didn't add that bit. I'm not sure about it - there is some overlap between geometric designs and arabesque, especially when the interior of arabesque shapes is geometrically decorated, but the remark doesn't ring true to me either. Johnbod (talk) 16:52, 31 August 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It seems unlikely to me, too, despite the evident overlaps, including when the interior of geometric designs is full of arabesques. The structures of both girih and zellige are demonstrably geometric, based on tilings not on vegetal curves, and this is confirmed many times over from design sources such as Broug. Chiswick Chap (talk) 17:49, 31 August 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thank you both for your input! I've made the suggested change. yoyo (talk) 03:10, 2 September 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Merge discussionEdit

It's time to merge Arabesque (European art) here. That is a load of unreferenced WP:OR, which mostly relates to the spiral volute not arabesques. See the discussions above from 2012. As it is, arabesques in European art are already covered here, so few changes will be needed. The other article is unfortunately too inaccurate to be re-purposed as spiral volute, but some could be used when that article is created. After the merge the article should be renamed to Arabesque (art), but let's do this one step at a time. Johnbod (talk) 14:04, 25 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]


  1. as nom. Johnbod (talk) 14:05, 25 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  2. as nom yourmom 10:43 29 October 2014 — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:43, 29 October 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  3. I agree. — TintoMeches, 00:55, 2 March 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  4. Strongly support. There is no need for two articles, especially since the European version includes much of the Islamic one. Endorse Arabesque (art) Bangabandhu (talk) 04:19, 5 December 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  5. Agree. Arabesque is Islamic. If the European one is largely nonsense then it needs to be cut, possibly to nothing, possibly to a rewritten article of a new name. Chiswick Chap (talk) 09:21, 15 December 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Oppose. Those are very different articles, using arabesque on very different basis and are simply not the same. They could have issues but if the articles are kept that can be solved. Hafspajen (talk) 03:03, 30 January 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
They are indeed very different articles, but that is because the "European" one is largely nonsense, describing volute forms that no one calls arabesques. Johnbod (talk) 03:14, 30 January 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Well you are probably right about that, I agree... The "European" is largely nonsense. But if we merge, Arabesque in Islamic art - wil not be Arabesque in Islamic art any more. Can't say I care much for the European... But I care for this one, because it is a specifically Islamic art genre. Hafspajen (talk) 00:46, 31 January 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It should go to Arabesque (art) or similar. It isn't a genre but a motif, and the European version directly grows out of the Islamic, as this article explains. Johnbod (talk) 04:49, 31 January 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Discussion on targetEdit

Copied from my talk: Johnbod (talk) 17:14, 15 December 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi, I think we have a mandate to conduct the merge as you suggested. Basically there's consensus for a merge to end up with Arabesque (art), which I'd say should be the default target/primary meaning for Arabesque (so the other articles should be listed under Arabesque (disambiguation)). Chiswick Chap (talk) 09:52, 15 December 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'm fine with that, and I'll copy this to the talk page there. Do you want me to do it? Some might prefer to see it go straight to Arabesque (disambiguation) - with ballet and music it's arguable there is no clear primary meaning. I'll look at the views. Johnbod (talk) 14:55, 15 December 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Please do; and to whichever target you think best. In older discussions I think you favoured the (art) variant. Chiswick Chap (talk) 16:10, 15 December 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Ok, will do - yes Arabesque (art) if the plain term cannot be justified. Johnbod (talk) 16:25, 15 December 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The plain term is currently a dab page, but really all the other terms do seem secondary - obvious enough in the case of European art, but also true of the ballet position and its use in music. Chiswick Chap (talk) 16:29, 15 December 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Certainly they all derive from it, but it is their relative prominence now that matters - no doubt most balletomanes have little idea about the art. Johnbod (talk) 16:32, 15 December 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hard to compare different artforms, of course. Still, it's a mess having all searches arrive at a dab page. FWIW Oxford put ballet first, while Webster puts Islamic ornament first. Chiswick Chap (talk) 16:54, 15 December 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Views in last 30 days:

...and so on. So the 2 art ones combined are over double the rest combined, and over 4x the next largest. Just under double if Deux arabesques is included, but that is a different term, like Arabeske (Schumann). So yes, I think the plain term with a hatnote is ok. Let's continue at the talk page. Johnbod (talk) 17:10, 15 December 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Impressive! I'm happy to go with Arabesque as the target, then. Chiswick Chap (talk) 17:11, 16 December 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Merge done. Of the 15k bytes, some 5 came here, and 3 or so went to Scroll (art), and some of the rest was duplicated anyway. I can't do the move myself so will ask an admin. Johnbod (talk) 19:02, 18 December 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]


@Johnbod: including the modern definition of the word used by Oxford, Merriam-Webster, etc. is as important as the historical definitions. Kindly do not remove it. QuestFour (talk) 23:58, 22 November 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I have retained it, but noted it is a huge over-simplication, and downright wrong as to the history. You seem to have missed the point that other, different, but just as modern definitions were already in the article, which you don't seem to have read. Not that I suggest you do that now. Nb neither of the the links you give just above agree in the slightest with what you added to the article, but do agree with what was already there - at the start of the lead in particular. Johnbod (talk) 00:05, 23 November 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Please refrain from using unencyclopedic tone per WP:TONE and making the article wordier than it already is. QuestFour (talk) 00:27, 23 November 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don't think you have much idea of what "unencyclopedic tone" is, frankly. No more edit-warring please! Johnbod (talk) 00:29, 23 November 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Fully protected for a week. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 01:08, 23 November 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • QuestFour, note that we are not talking about the modern definition of the word, which is covered very fully at the start of the article, with multiple sources, and which you have not attempted to alter, but the etymology and historical meaning of the word in non-English languages, which the article already covered at considerable length, using much better specialized sources than the free online dictionaries you have produced, and saying very different things. Johnbod (talk) 03:48, 23 November 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]