Visual journey through Moroccan Art!

Visual journey through Moroccan Art!

I MADE IT!!! Thanks to all your amazing support and votes, I made it to the Round 2 of the Big Henna Competition for the Henna Intensive & Retreat! I am now one step closer to winning a FREE entry to this incredible 3 days Henna conference in California!

So Round 2 theme has been announced and it is:

Moroccan Henna!

I am super nervous about this because I’ve only ever done moroccan henna once before, and it’s something completely out of my comfort zone. I started off by creating a Moroccan Inspirations mood board on Pinterest because I wanted to see what kind of patterns and style this art form usually is.

Nic Tharpa Henna

First thing I did ofcourse was look at Nic Tharpa’s body of work (See his designs above) If you’re not familiar with this name… look him up right now!! He is the guru of Moroccan Henna, Founder of Nomad Heart Henna and Author of the World’s first book on Moroccan henna traditions; Moor. (A book that I’ve recently ordered online!!)  I do wish I had ordered it before as it would have greatly helped me with this challenge… however, after looking at some of his designs, I decided to do a trial Moroccan Henna design of my own…

Moroccan Henna Trial

I feel it was a good first attempt… however, I decided that instead of visually looking at patterns and other peoples’ works I should instead dig deeper into actually defining Moroccan Art. I wanted to understand and find out the symbolism… the meanings and the deeper concept behind all these patterns! So, I took a different route and decided to research into this art form. Here are my findings:

What are the Visual/ religious qualities of Moroccan Art?

Moroccan Art is a reflection of the local artisans of the country, whose ideas come from their Islamic backgrounds and religious upbringing. These artisans express their creativity and skills through beautiful ceramics, handcarved furniture and architecture, colorful woven carpets, and intricate mosaic work on pottery. Each hand crafted item is rich in meaning, symbolism, style and color, making it a unique masterpiece. All Moroccan Art however, has one thing in common; they will never have any human or animal representations in it, mainly because the main religion of Morocco is Islam, and Islamic art forbids the use of portraits in art. So the art therefore focuses on the higher beauty through the use of complex, abstract patterns and calligraphy – inspired by nature, arabic writing and other elements around us.

Moroccan Art therefore roots in these complex and intricate designs consisting of geometric, floral and calligraphic design elements, paired with simple bright colors. Moroccan Art also embodies a beautiful sense of symmetry – carrying forth the Islamic principle of the idea of balance in life. The designs are well thought out, in proportion, creating a sense of harmony and unity amidst all the complexities. So despite being made up of so many patterns, shapes and colors, Moroccan art always looks balanced as a whole.

Moroccan Plate
Moroccan Pottery and Carpets are the two most popular forms of Moroccan Art, which are widely distributed and sold around the world. As you can see in this Moroccan plate above, there are 4 main patterns/ elements in the design: Flower shape made of geometrical patterns and lines, the curvy ornamental style brackets, the Minaret pattern and the diamond shape creating the base of the design. These 4 elements are then repeated and mirrored to create a balanced symmetrical design and the unity formed by all these elements of design crafts a natural, organic, and realistic artwork of a bigger flower as a whole, smoothed out on a ceramic plate! The beauty of this plate is in its simplicity and the carefully thought out negative space amongst the patterns. The minimal color palette is also a true reflection of Moroccan Art – bright and simple earthy tones that complement the pottery.

Check out this awesome collage of more Moroccan patterns and designs:

Moroccan Designs Collage

My simple conclusion about elements of Moroccan Art:

  • Geometrical Patterns
  • Abstract shapes
  • Flower patterns
  • Calligraphy
  • Symmetrical
  • Balance of negative and positive space
  • No portraits
  • Minimal & bright colors
  • Lots of elements combined to create a whole picture

Now I can’t wait to create my own design for this competition!! Keep an eye out for my entry for the Round 2 of this Henna Competition, and don’t forget to Vote!!


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