Exploring Islamic Design

A WebQuest for Art I and Ceramics I

Designed by Fadra Hepner, Sheila Showers and Mary Gilley


Introduction | Task | Process | Evaluation | Conclusion | Credits and References | Teacher Page

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Click on track for a special treat....




When you hear the word  Islam , what do you think of?

You may think of women wrapped in burkas, dry sands, camels, and war.  The truth is, there is a rich heritage full of colorful art at your very fingertips.  You just have to find it!

After exploring this site, you should have a good idea of how Islamic people expressed themselves and why.  This will prepare you for the task at hand.... 


1.  Explore the online resources to become familiar with Islamic traditions, life and art.

2.  Observe the abstract and  geometrical nature of Islamic art.

3.  Create your own artwork influenced by traditional Islamic aesthetics.



Use the preceding links to find your answers to the following questions and view Islamic art.  You will type your answers in MS Word to hand in.


Answer questions in one to two paragraphs...No research papers please.


Use complete sentences.


Work cooperatively within your group!! Take responsibility for your share.


Paraphrase the information...You will be teaching the rest of the class what you've learned when we return to whole class instruction.


Stay focused!!!--Look for KEYWORDS such as religion, art, etc.


Look at the first and last sentences in each paragraph to get an idea what it is about.


If you get lost, reread the question and remind yourself what you are looking for.

Please read questions below before exploring websites.




Tareq Rajab Museum

Islamic Design Firm  


One stop shopping!

Islamic art and architecture





(You may wish to explore the homework section for additional tools!)


Visual aspects and symbolism

Victoria and Albert Museum



PBS site



muslim heritage


Links: How to construct an Islamic geometrical design

Taprats program

Exercise A

Exercise B



Background, Geography, Religion and Culture:

1.What is Islam? (Define the core meaning of the word and explain how it is used today).


2.  What countries do you find Islam as the dominant religion? Print out a map.


3.  What are some of the basic principles of Islamic faith?


4.  In what context have you heard about Islam in current events and news?


Islamic Art and Design:

5.  What are some unique features of Islamic art, architecture and design?


6.  How is Islamic design related to geometry?


7.  Find at least two other cultures that have similar qualities in their designs. If available to print, please do.


8.  Why do Islamic artists prefer to work with non-objective, abstract designs?  (What is aniconism)?


9.  What is symbolism?  Discuss some symbols used by Islamic artists to give meaning to their abstract images.  (What is the significance of a circle to an Islamic artist)?


10.  Compare and contrast Islamic artists' use of geometric and curvilinear shapes.  (What is an arabesque)?


While you are at home, while travelling from class to class, or on your way about town observe your surroundings.  Find two examples of Islamic type design and create two thumbnail sketches to share with your classmates and use as inspiration.  You will be graded on the completion of the sketches!


Observations Based on Prior Learning:

11.  What design principles are most evident in your observations of Islamic art? (Use proper art vocabulary to explain your answers).

12.  Do you notice any dominant color schemes used by Islamic artists in their designs?  If so, what are they? Remember to use art vocabulary! (Example: primary, secondary, analagous etc.)

13. How would you begin to construct a design in the Islamic style?(Hint:  You could use repetition, scale change, interlocking shapes, image rotation, etc...)

14.  What traditional tools are used to create the designs?  What are the advantages and disadvantages of creating the pattern on the computer vs. traditional methods?

Print answers, map and other designs found.



Creating an Islamic Inspired Design:

1.  Click on the link for Taprats program and follow instructions with teacher.

2.  Click on Exercise A link and try to figure out how to recreate this in MS Word.

3.  Follow same steps for Exercise B.

4.  Print out your favorite design for inspiration in the classroom.




Using a digital camera, find five different examples of Islamic type design on campus.  Import the images into a drawing or digital manipulation program and use them to create your own pattern.



You will be evaluated as a group and individually.  If your  designated research task is incomplete you will be graded accordingly.  Following is the rubric that I will be using to determine your grades. Answers that are plagiarized will receive no points.












Questions from process portion answered


Questions answered

Questions answered with supporting details

Questions answered  with clarity and detail

Questions answered with clarity, descriptive detail and  thoughtfulness



Evaluation of Islamic artwork


Used appropriate tools  to create patterns, thumbnails completed

Thumbnails completed, appropriate tools used to create Islamic inspired patterns reflecting symmetry

Thumbnails completed, appropriate tools used; craftsmanship above average; Islamic aesthetic represented

Thumbnails completed, appropriate tools used; superior craftsmanship; Islamic aesthetic well executed



Class participation


One member of your group participates during information gathering

More than one member of your group participates

Most members of your group participate and apply what was learned during lesson

All members of group apply what was learned and demonstrate an in-depth understanding





I hope you have a better understanding of  the art and the people of Islamic cultures.  Remember:  All art has a reason and a meaning.  It's just sometimes hard to see.

 Asalaamu Alaykum!

Credits & References

Cameldance:  http://islamicchants.hispeed.com/index.html


Photo of Copper artwork representing "Muhammed" borrowed from the following site with permission:

The Khadija's Islamic Resources site is owned by Khadija Evans
and is part of The Muslims Webring.

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Last updated on (6/18/03). Based on a template from The WebQuest Page

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