Saturday, December 17, 2016

Traditional Japanese Arabesque Patterns (Part II)
Art Review

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

There are two other posts on this blogspot that have entered on Arabesque Patterns and for your convenience I have listed them below.
Traditional Japanese Arabesque Patterns (Part I)
Sarasa Arabesque Patterns (Part III)

Arabesque is a form of artistic decoration consisting of "surface decorations based on rhythmic linear patterns of scrolling and interlacing foliage, tendrils or plain lines, often combined with other elements".

Karakusa is Japanese and means “foreign plant” or “winding plant”. The pattern consists of various spirals, and these spirals take their shape from vines and other natural forms. The design features of the pattern was abstracted from these natural forms. In addition, a mathematical algorithm can be constructed in order to generate traditional design features and it may be utilized in order to generate new spiral forms.

The “kara” of Karakusa means “China”, while “kusa” means “plant”. The Karakusa pattern came to Japan from China, although it has said to have originated in ancient Egypt. Elements which seem to have influenced the form of the Karakusa pattern are palmettes, lotuses, plants such as the acanthus, and marine organisms from the Mediterranean. It took a long time for the pattern to be transmitted from Europe to the Orient, and by the accretion of slight changes from each country and culture on its journey eastward the original curve pattern was significantly modified. In particular, Byzantine Christian culture and Buddhist art of the Gandhara added their own touches to the pattern. As it journeyed along the Silk Road these influences fused with the Buddhist culture of China, before the pattern finally reached Japan in the ASUKA period (7th Century AD). The splendid workmanship of many artifacts utilizing the Karakusa pattern, which were brought into Japan, are still evident today. Once it matured in Japan, the designed became fixed and so reached its final form as a decorative pattern.

Although Karakusa includes the element “plant” in its original meaning, there was no one particular plant used as a model. “Plant” merely referred to a flowery shape or a shape like grass. The shape includes a vortex-like curve similar to that of a vine, and this feature combined with a specific flowering herb, is the common element in all Karakusa patterns. Types of Karakusa patterns include the “Japanese Apricot Karakusa”, the “Peony Karakusa”, the “Lotus Karakusa”. Because of its stout growth, the vine was considered a symbol of prosperity, a symbol which underlines the spiral patterns that are evident in Karakusa patterns.

Arabesque Patterns on Brocade, Satin...[2]

Arabesque Pattern Number 135.

Arabesque Pattern Number 139.

Arabesque Pattern Number 159.

Arabesque Pattern Number 202.

Arabesque Pattern Number 210.

Arabesque Pattern Number 227.

Arabesque Pattern Number 244.

Arabesque Pattern Number 250.

Arabesque Pattern Number 255.

Arabesque Pattern Number 256.

Arabesque Pattern Number 260.

Arabesque Pattern Number 262.

[1] Kiyoe Fuchigami, Journal for Geometry and Graphics Volume, 5 (2001) 35–43.

[2] Textile Design In Japan: Traditional Arabesque”, Kamon Yoshimoto, Graphic-sha Publishing Co. Ltd, Tokyo (1977).

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