My snapshots do not do justice to the richness of the colors and the fine workmanship of these 6" ceramic tiles, all carefully fitted together to create these huge arab-esque designs (now I know were that word comes from!). The stylized forms and lines are rooted in nature but do not depict it realistically. For me the rich profusion of line and shape and the juxtaposition of scales and colors have an energy that bursts the bounds of the strict symmetry of the patterns. To my eye this riot of rhythmic repetition conveys a real delight in creating and even, I think, a delight in the Creation, an impulse to praise the richness and beauty of the world. (No doubt, there was also the impulse to display the richness and power of the Sultan himself.)
It will be interesting to see if and how exposure to this way of making pattern and natural imagery may affect my own work. I had thought my next tapestry would be rather minimal, simplified and quiet in composition; now I just want to layer pattern upon pattern. I have ordered several books from the library to learn more about Iznik tiles (Iznik is the Turkish city where these tiles were made) and Islamic design in general. Stay tuned. . . .