The Muqarnas in contemporary art and epigraphic design: developing technical vision in the design of the muqarnas
Sabbagh, Abdulmajeed M.
This thesis is about muqarnas, a type of three-dimensional decorative finishing strip using concave elements. It is a kind of corbel used in Islamic architecture both as a decorative motif and as an enriched block or horizontal bracket. It is generally found under the cornice and above the bed -mould of the Corinthian entablature, and at the same time, it hides the transitional zones between various surfaces (e.g. arches, domes, capitals, windows, ceilings, minarets, mihrabs, minbar, façade). It can take a number of forms and in some circumstances resembles stalactites. It has been applied, artistically, to different materials (e.g. stucco, stone, marble, wood, faience and polychrome) in unique, regularly spaced, geometric arrangements.The muqarnas is an important feature in Islamic architecture because of its social, cultural and symbolic meanings. The research aim is to critically analyse the muqarnas and to shed light on its genesis, nature and evolution. This will be followed by an attempt to transform the muqarnas to suit modern use without losing its meaning. This study will highlight the importance of providing a simple software program for modelling the muqarnas, relevant to the field of Islamic architecture, epigraphic design and art such that it can be appreciated by contemporary practitioners, especially contemporary viewers, who will find different options in the model (muqarnas blocks) that will allow them to assess alternative designs and have them ready for use in the form of computerised two -dimensional and three-dimensional drawings.The thesis begins with a first chapter comprising an introduction to the background, aim, objectives, methodology and the significance of the research. The second chapter is a review of the history of muqarnas and offers an interpretation of all the figures that combine to make the muqarnas types, spatial compositions in interlocking values. The chapter also explores the cultural and compositional units (cube, sphere, wall, columns and arches) and the properties of the organic rules of the muqarnas. The third chapter is an analysis of the proportional order and harmony of each element of the muqarnas units in Islamic architecture. The fourth chapter puts an intellectual and subjective perspective on the properties of the muqarnas, concentrating on structural transformation in Islamic art and architecture using structuralism and associated theories. The fifth chapter reviews the performance of the muqarnas design processing program `Generator of Mugarnas'. This program can be used to visualise data generated from the blocks of muqarnas, to create a user interface and to convert two-dimensional plans into three- dimensional muqarnas data. The program is based on the original muqarnas types and allows for efficiency of working with materials, textures, colours and light. The final chapter concludes with a brief overview of the significance of the study.This innovative approach to the modern world will introduce the aesthetics of the muqarnas to a new audience, and rekindle the interest of designers, artists and architects. Using the program they will find alternatives ready for use in the form of computer -generated muqarnas drawings which will help them, as they are easy to use, saving time and effort. The author has made contact with professionals who are interested in using muqamas and those who are looking to invest and publish the software program when it has been fully developed and tested.