(a.), in Islamic art, “ornament, ornamentation”. The word is connected with the noun
zuk̲h̲ruf “gold” > “ornamental work” used in Ḳurʾān, XVII, 95/93,
bayt min zuk̲h̲ruf, and there is an adjective
muzak̲h̲raf “ornamented”; the origin of
zuk̲h̲ruf seems to be in a deformation, via Syriac, of Grk.
zōgrapheō “to paint”, see Jeffery,
The foreign vocabulary of the
Qurʾān , Baroda 1938, 150. ¶ Islamic ornament possesses certain qualities that, even if not exclusive to this art, are sufficiently distinct to be recognisable. One is that it is independent from the underlying structure, be it a building or an object of art. It therefore can easily be transferred from one material to the other, and from one technique to another. As in other civilisations, the ornament can be classified either by the elements of which it is composed or by the method by which it is organised. In addition, it can be interpreted symbolically, can communicate ideas or can have metaphoric qualities. The most common elements are vegetal, geometric, epigraphic and figural. In order to create order and harmony—one of the most characteristic functions of Islamic ornament—it is organised by two principles: geometry and symmetry. To achieve this aim, the Islamic artist used a number of methods,