In art and iconography, a motif is an
element of an image. A motif may be repeated in a pattern or design, often
many times, or may just occur once in a work. A motif may be an element in the
iconography of a particular subject or type of subject that is seen in other
works, or may form the main subject, as the Master of Animals motif in ancient
art typically does. The related motif of confronted animals is often seen alone,
but may also be repeated, for example in Byzantine silk and other ancient
textiles. Ornamental or decorative art can usually
be analysed into a number of different elements, which can be called motifs.
These may often, as in textile art, be repeated many times in a pattern.
Important examples in Western art include acanthus, egg and dart, and
various types of scrollwork. Many designs in mosques in Islamic
culture are motifs, including those of the sun, moon, animals such as horses
and lions, flowers, and landscapes. Motifs can have emotional effects and be
used for propaganda. The term has become used more broadly in
discussing literature and other narrative arts for a particular element
or section in the story that represents a theme; see Motif.
Examples Geometric, typically repeated: Meander,
palmette, rosette, gul in Oriental rugs, acanthus, egg and dart, Bead and reel,
Pakudos, Sauwastika, Adinkra symbols. Figurative: Master of Animals,
confronted animals, velificatio, Death and the Maiden, Three hares, Sheela na
gig. See also
Iconography Three hares
Notes Further reading
Hoffman, Richard. Docorative Flower and Leaf Designs. Dover Publications, ISBN
0-486-26869-1 Jones, Owen. The Grammar of Ornament.
Dover Publications, Revised edition, ISBN 0-486-25463-1
Welch, Patricia Bjaaland. Chinese art: a guide to motifs and visual imagery.
Turtle Publishing, ISBN 0-8048-3864-X External links
Visual motifs Theater of Drawing