The complex geometry of Islamic design – Eric Broug
The complex geometry of Islamic design – Eric Broug

In Islamic culture,
geometry is everywhere. You can find it in mosques,
madrasas, palaces and private homes. This tradition began in the 8th century CE
during the early history of Islam, when craftsmen took preexisting motifs
from Roman and Persian cultures and developed them into new forms
of visual expression. This period of history was a golden age
of Islamic culture, during which many achievements
of previous civilizations were preserved and further developed, resulting in fundamental advancements
in scientific study and mathematics. Accompanying this was an increasingly
sophisticated use of abstraction and complex geometry in Islamic art, from intricate floral motifs
adorning carpets and textiles, to patterns of tilework that seemed
to repeat infinitely, inspiring wonder
and contemplation of eternal order. Despite the remarkable complexity
of these designs, they can be created
with just a compass to draw circles and a ruler to make lines within them. And from these simple tools emerges
a kaleidoscope multiplicity of patterns. So how does that work? Well, everything starts with a circle. The first major decision
is how will you divide it up? Most patterns split the circle
into four, five or six equal sections. And each division gives rise
to distinctive patterns. There’s an easy way to determine
whether any pattern is based on fourfold, fivefold, or sixfold symmetry. Most contain stars surrounded
by petal shapes. Counting the number
of rays on a starburst, or the number of petals around it, tells us what category
the pattern falls into. A star with six rays,
or surrounded by six petals, belongs in the sixfold category. One with eight petals is part
of the fourfold category, and so on. There’s another secret ingredient
in these designs: an underlying grid. Invisible, but essential to every pattern, the grid helps determine the scale
of the composition before work begins, keeps the pattern accurate, and facilitates the invention
of incredible new patterns. Let’s look at an example of how these
elements come together. We’ll start with a circle within a square,
and divide it into eight equal parts. We can then draw a pair
of criss-crossing lines and overlay them with another two. These lines are called construction lines, and by choosing a set of their segments, we’ll form the basis
of our repeating pattern. Many different designs are possible
from the same construction lines just by picking different segments. And the full pattern finally emerges when we create a grid with many
repetitions of this one tile in a process called tessellation. By choosing a different set
of construction lines, we might have created this pattern, or this one. The possibilities are virtually endless. We can follow the same steps
to create sixfold patterns by drawing construction lines
over a circle divided into six parts, and then tessellating it,
we can make something like this. Here’s another sixfold pattern
that has appeared across the centuries and all over the Islamic world, including Marrakesh, Agra, Konya
and the Alhambra. Fourfold patterns fit in a square grid,
and sixfold patterns in a hexagonal grid. Fivefold patterns, however,
are more challenging to tessellate because pentagons
don’t neatly fill a surface, so instead of just creating
a pattern in a pentagon, other shapes have to be added
to make something that is repeatable, resulting in patterns that may seem
confoundingly complex, but are still relatively simple to create. Also, tessellation is not constrained
to simple geometric shapes, as M.C. Escher’s work demonstrates. And while the Islamic
geometric design tradition doesn’t tend to employ elements
like fish and faces, it does sometimes make use of multiple
shapes to craft complex patterns. This more than 1,000-year-old tradition
has wielded basic geometry to produce works that are intricate,
decorative and pleasing to the eye. And these craftsmen prove just how
much is possible with some artistic intuition, creativity,
dedication and a great compass and ruler.

100 thoughts on “The complex geometry of Islamic design – Eric Broug”

  1. Ali Ghali says:

    Great video TED, its not just a geometry its a call to all people and cultures to collaborate anf form a society colorful and inspiring like these arts 🌺

  2. Muhammad Athar says:

    If Muslims stop focusing on others and start focus on themselves they will be able to acheive something. Otherwise they will stay the headache of the world.

  3. BUM BUUM says:

    TED , don't call it Islamic … everything who comes from muslim countries is not related to religion but CULTURE 🙄🙄🙄
    this Mauresque style is also called Azulejos !

  4. danny yo says:

    True hearted muslims know this. Also Islam give birth to renaissance in Europe. First hospitals. First university. All because of the miracle called the Holy Quran.

  5. R. R. says:


  6. BeautifulChough says:

    Moorish art not Muslim or Arabe

  7. Craig says:

    I am Muslim. Only Mohammed say what geometry I like. I bomb you infidel.

  8. DaJaguar says:

    Man, love the complexity and richness of the designs! I'm gonna start using these in my home!

  9. Nirmiti Hirani says:

    This are Persian Zoroastrian Designs not Islamic….. Please be clear with words. Islam doesn't believe in art.

  10. PoeticSonic says:

    Meh, people aren't bad, institutions who want to control people are. Any one religion or ethnicity have there own stereotypes, but most people just want to live a happy life with a low lvl of stress…

  11. Deden Habibi says:

    Find terrorists in complex hideouts. Find Muslims in complex layouts.

  12. Mike Ries says:

    When you conquer a nation and eliminate it's people over 'an idea or concept' the idea or concept now belongs to you. Islam conquered some ideas and concepts.

    Kill the infidels.

  13. ico says:

    I'm muslim and just realized that my home and my mosque is full of alien's tech geometry 😱😱😱

  14. Viejo Bellako says:

    Their ancestors most likely used DMT

  15. Cuban Nerd says:

    Cultural appropriation is a wonderful thing don't you think?

  16. Crystal Yeow says:

    Those Islamic architect that never die during wars, please assemble n prepare to work !!!

  17. Crystal Yeow says:

    Islamic country, has to use back Islamic Architect, not western architect, Miem use western Architect. Every country has its own culture.

  18. skyi nuri says:

    Thanks for AlKhawaritsmi with pythagoras

  19. hadrian javas says:

    Orang Indonesia harus liat ini biar tau sejarah, pola geometri yang keren malah di bilang Illuminati.

  20. mohit k says:

    They didnt invent anything… It was all stolen and modified. Just like Americans and britishers stole Indian inventions and texts and modified it and patented it on their name. The truth is we are living still in a world with bogus inventors and scientists who actually are sustaining their profession on ancient civilizations knowledge which still many of it hasnt been deciphered yet.

  21. Jo Alfonsius Wolfenstein says:

    For me Islam is religion and not culture, so you can have celt or nordic culture but still can be a moslem.
    So you don't need to have art style like in the video if you want be a moslem..
    So Islam is the way you submit to the God, and culture itself is from the people.
    So when particular culture is linked with Islam, no wonder some people of that culture get stamp as a Terrorist.

    That is why Islam is religion and not culture.

  22. Abdullah Al-Dar says:

    One small note; it's "islam" with an "s" sound not "izlam" with "z" sound. I wonder when the world will know how to pronounce it correctly 😅

  23. Tuttomusico says:

    Persian and Romanian style.. nothing with Arab or Islam to do

  24. ArminTamzarian says:

    Islam is pure fascism and total hatred towards anything that is not Islam. It is the opposite of freedom.

  25. محمد العوادي says:

    Nice video, great comments, awesome content & wonderful world!

  26. Sam Supari says:

    Explain this to pushpindar

  27. Mobeen Ahmed says:

    Please people don't call us terrorists because of bad people who exists in every faith and religion of the world! If our teaching was about terrorism the early muslims would have made atomic bomb centuries ago!

  28. Om Khai says:

    No need for AutoCad, just use a compass and a ruler…

  29. A or Ta says:

    Glad we have M.C. Escher 🙂
    Grts from Amsterdam…

  30. Gazelle Richardson says:

    A geometric Artist myself, much appreciation for it.

  31. Gazelle Richardson says:

    I do animal Tessellations, inspired by Escher. But the process is much different, far more complex. Good video.

  32. W X says:

    با این ویدئو از TED نا امیدشدم.درکجای این دین اسلام نامی ازساختن اومده ؟؟ استثمار دستاورد های دیگران رسم مسلمون هاست.
    با این ویدئو گندزدین به هنرمعماری.
    ظاهرا رسالت شما ترویج دروغه.

  33. Rodutchi says:

    It's Islam not izlam smh
    Hate how u guys say it , u make it sound harsh even tho it's a beautiful word (peace)

  34. Rodutchi says:

    Proud to be a Muslim , even tho all non Muslim think of us as dangerous people

  35. Md. Abu Bakar Siddique says:

    Muslims are the most Peace loving people and they are not far behind from science and technology. But the media always spreads false news about Muslims.

  36. Cedar Poplar says:

    That's amazing

  37. KatariaGujjar says:

    Another very complex-seeming design is the use of muqarnas (a type of vaulting) in which the geometric patterns are three dimensional. Example below,

  38. Instant Hub: says:

    I always wondered how they were created.

  39. Salman al Halaby says:

    11/9 was an inside job, cia recruited Osama and guess who has been arming and funding the illiterate gangsters they lovingly call rebels of democracy/isis/mices/bs in the nato proxy wars on Libya and Syria? Us, UK, Israel and the heretic Saudis. The refugee mess was direct result of criminal wars by us and UK, carrying out zionist game plan.

  40. victor ramirez villanueva says:

    Excelente video..

  41. Eduardo Passeto says:

    This is also the geometric base of our cathedrals…

  42. peace and love says:

    It is not Islamic it is Persian and Turkish,Islam is a faith not source of engineering.

  43. onelovitHD says:

    when islam had all it's chakras working..

    now it is on root chakra, just like everybody else ^^

  44. samar malik says:

    Thank you for an inspiring unbiased effort with brill contribution from Ted.Ed.
    I've liked, & subscribed with the bell!

    Thank you again & regards

  45. samar malik says:

    P.S. pleasant RP pronunciation with an artistic tone of voice by Addison Anderson, really complimentary to the lesson by Eric Broug & rightfully deserving a second mention Ted Ed.

  46. Rob Gadiner says:

    They're still a few millenia late to the party.

  47. Nisa nis says:

    From turkey😍😍🤗❤

  48. DLH says:

    Allahu Akbar!

  49. shray shukla says:

    Most Fç@kïñg religion on Earth

  50. miinaramzan _ says:

    That compass and ruler always remind me of freemason but they're not muslim tho

  51. Ade Putera says:

    The comment section showed just how different ted-ed audience compared to other channel 🙂

  52. O daif G says:

    arabic translation is bad and not complet wich give a lot of uncompleted (wrong) infos and it make it sems that the islamic culture just copied other cultures please correct the translation

    الترجمة العربية سيئة و غير مكتملة ما يعطي الكثير من المعلومات الخاطئة او الغير كاملة و توحي بأن الثقافة الاسلامية نسخت الثقافات الاخرى. الرجاء تصحيح الترجمة

  53. Razee Taushif says:

    And now not even 500 universities are there in islamic world…so sad

  54. Abdülkadir Bayram says:

    This is not only islamic. This is mixed turkish culture and islamic culture. Anatolian mosques have a lot of geometric shapes. They made by Selcuklu Emp. and Ottoman Emp.

  55. Hop says:

    Not all tilings are as simple. Specially, the 3d ones such as the one at Isfehan's Imam mosque

  56. sumesh rajurkar says:

    Art progressed only when there was peace in the society. Religion was meant to bring peace. Every one who craves to bring ideal society, must understand this … religion is a means to bring peace not aim in itself. It's art and science that really matters in progress of society.

  57. itai bachar says:

    The reason Muslims draw just patterns is from their belief that the creation of living forms is unique to God, and mere humans arent allowed to "create" such stuff in a drawing. In Judaism there's a similar ban on creating "god" like figures, but it is less strict.

  58. Bundeskanzler brat tack Biodeutscher says:

    It is only geometry. Mehmmed did not talk about geometry.

  59. kiran dev says:

    They invaded or stole from others!!!

  60. zinedine says:

    These are mostly moroccan designs…

  61. Mikra B says:

    Duh, the Muslim faith was planted by Catholics and Catholicism is a masonic designed mocking religion. They fancy their ancient gematria/ geometry.
    Muhammad was coached by a catholic monk after his time as an orphan.
    Islam is a young faith littered with falsehoods by the mocking church that planted that lie. Deal with it, truth is irrefutable.

  62. Mahdi Gazari says:

    You deliberately removed Persian science and Architecture and called it Islamic for next step to remove Persian name from that . It’s not work baby

  63. Nugraha Rendra says:

    I barely knew that they adopted the Roman and Persian art in the early period of Islam. Earlier i thought because in Islam, its forbidden to paint a living creature, so they use plants and many other things including the complex geometry. Well thanks to this channel !

  64. Jesse Quinn Harrison says:

    ¿¿¿“In a ppPppentagon other (((>shapes<))) have to be added to make something repeatable”???

    “4-fold pattern fit in a square grid.”

    “6-fold patterns in a hexagonal grid.”

    “V-fold patterns however, are more challenging to tessellate because ppPppentagons don’t neatly fill a surface. So instead of just creating a pattern in a pentagon other ‘shapes’ have to be added to make something repeatable resulting in patterns that may seem confounding complex, but are relatively simple to create.”

  65. Round says:

    Don’t let Fox News see this.

  66. Sarah Gh says:

    Wooow that's just fascinating 😍❤ I love how u explaned that gorgeous art.

  67. Jose Garza says:

    Ted-Ed are you going to do a positive video about other religions as well?

  68. Sayan Sarkar says:

    All these knowledge they gained from Indian Universities. Then their army invades India and changes the history. Geometry was invented and practiced by Hindus. Arabic barbarians had no deep knowledge on anything untill they came to India.

  69. Sodom 1611 says:

    reason is, to making picture is forbidden in islam..'only the god able to create something'

  70. Halcyon Faysal says:



    Chaos and order

  72. Leo n. says:

    Lux cipher

  73. Shihab Uddin says:

    There is no such things like ''Islamic Geometry". These are middle eastern Arabs works. It is a fact that they adopted Islam. Perhaps Islam inspired their creativity in a way.

  74. 10,000 subscribers with no videos says:

    It mesmerizing but also saddens me that, our ancestors were more progressive than Muslims we are today. Islam is not just a religion but also a lifestyle. It shows you all the prime things to live, from eating foods to all the way to science and politics. And after spending 18 springs of my life I just realized that, People from our own community and society has tried to twist these thing in a bad way to match their selfish needs (whatever a bad cleric do to gain fame and reach). Whenever I looked at the old ways of Islam I felt" just" yet the ways I am seeing isn't just as right, looks like someone bent it. I even feel the ancestors of ours were more modern then we are today. All these people who can burn the world to ashes to match their needs and nitpicking violence is hampering and holding not only Muslims but also all kind of people of earth to show what is good and what we can archive if we walk along the same way. It is the same thing afterall we all seek…

  75. tuğba tuğçe says:

    I am proud to be a part of this as a Turkish and a Muslim. However, these issues are never discussed in today's education system. We are removed from our own values ​​and culture. Regardless of your nationality, embrace your own culture.

  76. Alex Sanchez says:

    Could create Beautiful shapes but cant stop a war,Great Logic

  77. Tiger says:

    They didnt invent it it existed for thousand of years before the arab conquest lol what a joke of a video look up ancient assyrian sacred geometry

  78. mehdi karpov says:

    WOW Arabs have brains ?

  79. Midget 17 says:

    Makes me want to bring the golden age of Islamic culture back.

  80. Trump-Support-2020 - says:

    QURAN INCLUDES [email protected] of Islam; "Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book(Christians ,Jews,), until they pay the Jizya(non-muslim)tax with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.-Quran 9:29

  81. Trump-Support-2020 - says:

    "it is the law that no Muslim should be killed in Qisas (equality in punishment) for the killing of (a disbeliever)'said; Prophet Muhammad' Sahih Bukhari 1:3:111

  82. Trump-Support-2020 - says:

    The Jews call 'Uzair a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. Allah's curse be on them<—(???).   —how they are deluded away from the Truth! Quran 9:30

  83. vannia das says:

    Wow, terrific

  84. Fatih Solak says:

    Pen and paper skills are satisfying enough. Imagine applying these motives onto marble, rock and woods on massive scale without today's power tools and let them all be precise as in the paper.

  85. Ann Jirjis says:

    The westerners had thought the muslim how to do it, or done it themselves for them, the western countries including the catholic church advance certain nationals such as the arab and the jews knowing that both have borrowed from other nations which they work to demote, it is terrible that this channel is participating in this lie, you are acting as lying bunch of devils…. the arab and the muslims have never and will never do anything work while other then by tremendous efforts wasted on them in particular to be called as "advanced people"…..

  86. muthu ganapathy says:

    Zombie religion. Cancer to human mind

  87. Hassan Roy says:

    That was golden era of Muslims. When Muslims destroyed Roman and Persian empires.

  88. Mohamedzakymohamed Zanaty says:

    اى تصميم فية فكر وابداع يعجبنى

  89. Mohamedzakymohamed Zanaty says:

    لكن انا مؤمن بفكرة …. جمال الاشياء فى بساطتها كل ماكان التصميم بسيط كان ارقى

  90. KebenaranBukanMilikAndaAtaupunSaya says:

    What do you mean by islamic design? There is no such thing. That is arab design. Arab is not equal to islam.

  91. Elnur Shabanov says:

    Amazing! Thank you. Very useful.

  92. Zayyaf Entertainment says:

    Well Technically , this is not ISLAMIC Art because there are no such instruction about such art in the Quran or hadith or any islamic scripture , just like a if a muslim invented mobile , you wont say , its an Islamic Invention , its an invention by Muslim. So Technically its more like Arabic or Muslim Art or may be Art of Islamic Golden Age , or something other than Islamic , since its not part of Islam.

  93. Grizzly BƎAR says:

    4:50 Square & Compass, The Freemasonic emblem. Now it makes sense.

  94. Ahsan Nadeem says:

    Now I know why most of the Muslim architects are so creative❤️

  95. Constellation 2023 says:

    @0:41 The narrator claims the supposed Golden Age of Islam was a thousand years ago and uses an image from 17th century Ottoman times. LOL
    Muslims are living their second tyranny today but nothing lasts forever. Glad tidings for Islamophobes: the Golden Age of Islam is yet to come!

  96. Nea Zy says:

    Im glad islam is portrayed this way. Theres a youtube video where a south korean man remembers turkish men helping them during the korean war. He thinks muslims are not the way they are portrayed in media today.

  97. George Raptis says:

    It is Greek to me.

  98. Zaid Taaliyar says:

    People in this comment section:
    I m not a muslim but…..😌

  99. LESLIE TURNER says:

    Even though I have an astigmatism, I'm pretty sure my eyes are Islamic when I see these types of mesmerizing masterpieces. 👀💟❤💟❤💟❤

  100. michael bayer says:

    … its like a beautyfull Song and music in words of Geometrie – and we See God ist big Designer and constructeur.

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