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Arabesque decoration on the dome of the Madar-i-Shah madrasah (school) —Ray Manley/Shostal Associates
Style of decoration characterized by interlacing plant forms and abstract curvilinear motifs. It is typical of Islamic ornamentation from c. 1000. The word was first used in the 15th or 16th century when Europeans became interested in the Islamic arts, but the motif itself was derived from Hellenistic craftsmen in Asia Minor. Arabesques were also applied to the decoration of illuminated manuscripts, walls, furniture, metalwork, pottery, stonework, majolica, and tapestry from the Renaissance to the 19th century.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on arabesque, visit Britannica.com.