Don’t Know Much About Geometry

It’s hard to imagine a church without an image of Jesus and/or the Virgin Mary.

Or bible stories told in stained glass in the church windows.

In Islam the portrayal of humans and animals in art is considered idolatry, and forbidden.  But there are many other ways to please the eye.

Islamic architects and artists were masters of geometric design.  Whether they were working big…

…or small…

…in iron…


…or stone.

It was a specialty of Islamic art and architecture…

…to create beauty using geometric patterns…


…and repetition.

Calligraphy was a valid form of artistic expression in art as well as architecture.

Alhambra, a palace fortress built in Granada, Spain in the 10th c. is a Unesco World Heritage site.

It is described by Moorish poets as “a pearl set in emeralds” because of its color, and the surrounding green woods and gardens.

 When you look at these graceful arches, you can see why the arch is another outstanding feature of Islamic architecture.

Radiating structures are often used, but there is nothing common about them at the Great Mosque in Cordoba.

They are uncommonly beautiful, built on an impressive scale and to great effect.

Islamic artists created for the glory of their god, and rarely signed their work.  I’m no expert, but just beneath the surface…

…I can sense the joy of creation…

…and the spirit of the creator within those patterns.

All words and images copyright Naomi Baltuck

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Photo Challenge: Ornate.



  1. Jueseppi B. says:

    Reblogged this on The ObamaCrat.Com™ and commented:
    Absolutely gorgeous images Ms. Naomi. Thank you for posting and allowing them to be reblogged.

  2. Dear Jueseppi,
    Thank YOU for re-blogging this post. As you can imagine, I have been thinking of you today. I appreciate your visit and your very kind comments.

  3. These images along with your commentary are just perfect. You embodied the creating spirit today.

    1. Dear Lesley,
      I can’t think of a nicer thing you could say, especially coming from an artist. Thank you so much.

  4. adinparadise says:

    Wonderful images, Naomi, displaying perfect geometry. I too stand in awe of the gorgeous designs and architecture displayed in these fabulous structures.

    1. It is very different from what we are used to, but so visually compelling, and soothing to the spirit.

  5. Beautiful mini-vacation for my day . . . Thanks!

    1. Hi Mary,
      Thank you for stopping by!

  6. Subhan Zein says:

    Al Hambra! I wanna go there! 🙂 thank you for sharing the pictures, Naomi, they’re gorgeous! Many blessings and much love to you. 🙂

    Subhan Zein

    1. Dear Subhan,
      I know that you will get there one day, perhaps on a poetry reading tour! Thank you for your kind words.
      Love to you too, dear lad!

  7. scillagrace says:

    Geometry and spirituality…echoes of the Native American earthworks and the Mayan pyramids…I have never investigated Islamic architecture, but now, I want to know more!

    1. Dear Scilla,
      What interesting parallels you draw–ones that never occurred to me, but which now make so much sense. I always love to hear from you, and you always bring a fresh and intelligent perspective into the conversation.

  8. pattisj says:

    Such artistry and detailed workmanship. Beautiful.

    1. Hi Patti,
      It is remarkable. The detail is unbelievable.
      Thank you for stopping by, and sharing your thoughts.

  9. Georgia says:

    I smiled at your pictures of the red and white curves of the Mesquite Cathedral in Cordoba as I loved them and have loads of very similar pics myself. Lovely

    1. Hi Georgia,
      Once you have been there, you don’t forget a place like that. Thanks for your visit, and for taking the time to comment.

  10. I hope to get there one day.

    1. I hope so too, Lisa. And when you do, you will have to plan on a bike trip in Cappadocia! It would feel a little bit like biking on another planet.

  11. Amy says:

    Beautiful selections for the geomestry, Naomi! Islamic arts and buildings are so fascinating!

    1. Hi Amy,
      Considering the weekly theme, it seemed the thing to do! Thanks for your visit.

  12. interstitial_squirrel says:

    I cannot like this enough. Seville was the most fantastical of all the places in Spain I went; el Alcázar and sus jardínes are marvels of Islamic Spain, all the more marvelous because they’ve survived centuries of war and upheaval. Spain, my beauty, your history comes down through the ages to stand resplendent before our wondering eyes!

    1. Dear Katie,
      I forgot that you had traveled extensively in Spain! And I’m sure you took lots of photos on your trip. That would be something pretty wonderful to share on your blog. I would really love to explore Spain through the eyes of one who obviously fell in love with it!

      Thanks, as always, for your thoughtful comments.

  13. Phenominal pics. I have been fasinated by Islamic art and architecture for years. I find it very peaceful to be surrounded by colorful geometric shapes and patterns like these. I understand their issue with idolotry and I agree with them to a point pretty far down the road so perhaps the absence of those images is comforting.
    Anyway thanks for the pics

    1. Hello! It is so different, isn’t it? I also find it very soothing. That first photo of the bright room with the cushions is from Topkapi Palace, and I just wanted to lie down on those cushions and study the patterns on the ceiling.

      Thank you so much for visiting!

  14. Madhu says:

    All gorgeous examples of perfect geometry! Well done Naomi.
    And congratulations 🙂 Democracy delivered yet again!

    1. Thanks, Madhu. Cried a few tears, had a glass of wine with husband, and am breathing a sigh of relief!

  15. Naomi, thank you for stopping and liking a post. This is beautiful photography. Your comments make it come more to life. I look forward to following your journey as you write between the lines and I read between them.

    Take care,


    1. Hi Ivon,
      Thank you for those very kind words. I had the chance to go and visit your blog today, and I too look forward to following along on your journey.

  16. pixitales says:

    Very nice photography. I like them all! 🙂

  17. frizztext says:

    a wonderful song, Naomi:

    1. Dear Frizz,
      I really love this song too. I was hoping people might make the connection. Of course, you would! Thank you for sharing it!

  18. Carol says:

    Beautiful – the words and the photos!

    1. Dear Carol,
      Thank you for stopping by, and for taking the time to comment.

  19. ritarivera says:

    Naomi, these are terrific! – rita

    1. Hi Rita,
      Thank you! It is always good to hear from you.

  20. footsy2 says:

    I learn more of Spain from your blog than I have done in four years living there 🙂

    1. Dear Footsy,
      That is such a sweet thing to say. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and for stopping by. It’s great to have you back in the blogosphere!

  21. Maryam says:

    So amazingly beautiful. Inspirational.

    1. Thank you, Maryam. I appreciate your visit.

  22. I found myself relaxing as I scrolled through the photos Profound images. Thanh you for the meditation.

  23. Wow, Carol. That is very cool! I am so glad that you could come and kick back for a little while here. So good to hear from you!

  24. R Srinivasan says:

    interesting captures…even geometrically speaking! Who says you do not know about it… you know geometry along with chemistry too!

    Inviting you to leave your footprints and explore my “Geometric” interpretations too, at

    1. Thank you for visiting Writing Between the Lines. I really was so impressed with your blog, and the photos were stunning. I hope my readers will go check it out!

      1. R Srinivasan says:

        Thanks Naomi for your kind visit and appreciation. Keep visiting and keep blessing.

  25. niasunset says:

    WOW! These are all great photographs… Thanks and Love, nia

    1. Dear Nia,
      Thank you! One doesn’t need to look hard or far for the beauty surrounding us. That includes the kindness of friends. Thank you for your generous comments.

  26. Wonderful post!

    I had the great fortune to travel to Egypt in 1996, and while there visited a number of mosques, most of which were stunningly beautiful. (The Mosque of Muhammad Ali, aka Alabaster Mosque, in particular.)

    Interesting and terribly sad, isn’t it, when you consider that the Jewish Star of David can often be seen prominently in those geometric shapes? I see two examples in your photos above.

    1. Thank you for the link–I went for a visit, and it was very beautiful, inside and out.

      It is no coincidence that I am drawn to the Star of David. It reminds me of a time when Islam, Judaism, and Christianity were all siblings of one parent, and lived side by side in peace. I was about to say that I hope someday they will again. But that sounds too defeatist. There are places in the world today where they still do, and many more where they can and will.

  27. Touch2Touch says:

    A wonderful series of photos, an interesting riff on the theme, and a reminder to me that it was Arab Muslims who invented Arabic numerals and what became modern mathematics. Hardly surprising then how inventive and imaginative they are in geometric representation.

    1. So true. the Islamic culture was thriving and making great technological advances when the English were still living in mud huts and painting themselves blue. This is also true of the great Kingdoms of Northern Africa. It is easy to forget ones place in history (in our case rather near the end I’m afraid) when as children; all we are taught is European History. Then we wonder why so many of our people think the Arabs still use the Camel as their main form of transport and have never heard of Timbuktu accept as a “funny” name; maybe. Our educational system ignores two thirds of the world’s history and culture unless they are used as examples of curiosities.

      Better cross cultural education would surly lead to better understanding and better communication. So sad that our Nation’s main goal seems ever to be the amassing of wealth and the exertion of power and pressure on other nations to get our way.

      Hopefully; that will change over the next four years.

    2. Thank you for a really interesting perspective, and for contributing to this conversation. The world has changed, and I agree with you–we need to be part of the global community. If things are going to change at all, it will be with our man at the helm, and thank goodness we have him for four more years.

  28. A priceless treasure image after image. These designs simply blew my mind. Beautiful and spectacular!

    1. Dear Island Traveler,
      Thank you for your generous comments. It is always a pleasure to hear from you!

  29. I love visiting churches in different countries and your pictures are amazing Naomi!

    1. Thank you, Maggie. When you go somewhere that is so beautiful, it’s hard not to snap a good photo! Thanks again for visiting, and sharing your thoughts.

  30. Perfect fit: Islamic art and architecture and geometry! And what a wonderful collection of photographs you had to illustrate your thesis, Naomi. I’m so glad you posted this. 🙂

    1. Thank you! It was a pleasure to put this post together, especially after our recent trip to Turkey. I am grateful for your visit, and for the time you took to share your thoughts.

  31. mj monaghan says:

    Fantastic pictures and words, Naomi. I love geometric shapes in art and in life. Love what you did on this post. 🙂

    1. Thank you for stopping by, mj. I think geometric forms are very soothing to the eye and the brain.

  32. eof737 says:

    Fantastic and I love the colors with the shapes.. 😉

    1. Thank you, Elizabeth. I appreciate your visit, and your generous comment.

  33. Naomi–I have loved architecture all my life, and I enjoyed your photos and comments on Islamic architecture. Well done.

    1. Dear J.A.,
      Thanks so much for your visit, and your kind words!

  34. trishworth says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and seeing the images. Islamic art is the perfect source for a post on geometry. I studied it in art history at uni and was surprised by it. My favourite photo is of the tiled wall with a repetition of stylised trees.

    1. Isn’t that wall a beauty? It was a wall decorating the Sultan’s harem at Topkapi Palace.

      Thank you so much for your visit, and for sharing your thoughts. I have a daughter who is intrigued with art history, and I really enjoy her insight when we travel together.

  35. Mazigrace says:

    Beautiful photos and such intricate and complex designs. Thanks for sharing them with us.

    1. Thank you so much for your visit, and for taking the time to comment!

  36. Jamie Dedes says:

    Breathtaking and I so love the way you layout the pics and story.

    1. Dear Jamie,
      Thank you so much. This was a fun one to put together.

  37. Jamie Dedes says:

    Am flipping throught to see which of your posts I might have missed. I must say I love these photographs. I recently saw a documentary on Alhambra. The art was stunning. Amazing how how forms and juxtapositions of form without image can move heart and mind.

    1. Thank you, Jamie. I don’t usually post more than once a week, so unless you go way back, you have probably seen most of them. I welcome this chance to tell you how much I am enjoying your poetry. I can see why you would rather not have to respond to all the comments, but I will tell you here how artful and thought-provoking your poetry is. The language and imagery you use is sometimes surprising, yet so apt, and it makes me look at things in a new way. Thank you for stopping by, Jamie. I think of you often, and always fondly and with great admiration.

      1. Jamie Dedes says:

        Yes! And I think of you and am grateful that you take me on travels I can’t do myself.

        Thank you for letting me know how you feel about my poetry. I appreciate the encouragement and support and understanding of my decision to turn off comment feather.

        Many blessings to you and yours.

      2. Jamie Dedes says:

        … and yes, much affection too. I feel I know you and your dear family. 🙂 The miracle of the Internet, the meeting with good folk we’d never meet in our daily rounds.

      3. Dear Jamie,
        You are so sweet! It is really a miracle. The technical aspects are so Star Trek, but I would never have anticipated the human connections afforded us by the science. I have appreciated getting to know you.

  38. Debbie says:

    wow – a pearl set in emeralds indeed. lovely images. Thank you for sharing.

    1. HI Debbie,
      Thanks so much for the visit, and for taking the time to share your very kind response!

  39. So beautiful!! This is a lovely post!

  40. Thank you, Maria. I enjoyed exploring your blog today too–it looks like you have a taste for adventure and an eye for beauty.

  41. Parul Thakur says:

    Lovely pictures. I love tainted glasses, those geometric patterns and arches. So unique and beautiful. Perfect for pictures too 🙂 Thanks for this virtual tour. Enjoyed it!

    Stopping by from the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge Prompt page –

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