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Types of ornament

Throughout the history of art can meet various types of ornament. Every nation, and sometimes even its individual part, may have its own ornament.

The motifs of the ornament can be from different areas and spheres, for example from geometry, fauna, flora; they may be the outlines of the human body or surrounding objects. The motive in the ornament is its part, its main element. The motive can consist of one element or of many, decorated in a single whole.

Most often, the masters themselves created for their works ornamental motifs. Often, artists managed to create new original patterns of ornaments, thanks to the skillful use of motifs and a variety of techniques for varying various forms.

Ornament is graphic, picturesque, sculptural, geometric, floral. Sometimes the ornament can take unusual, fantastic forms and include pictorial motifs. The combination of ornaments with each other, as well as with the material and shape of the object, forms the decor, which is characteristic of a particular style.

The style in art of various periods is the unity of the system of images, means and methods of artistic expression that have developed historically. The basis of any style is the system of artistic forms that have the same, similar to each other images that have arisen in certain social and economic conditions. The ornament is one of the most important, components of a system of images of various styles, thanks to which one can unmistakably determine the belonging of a work of art to one or another style.

Classify the ornament, mainly according to its origin, purpose and content. Using this classification, the ornament can be divided into the following types.

Technical ornamentTechnical ornament. The appearance of the forms of this ornament has occurred, thanks to the labor activity of man. For example, the surfaces of objects made of clay, made on a potter’s wheel, a drawing of the simplest cells of a fabric when it is being made on a primitive loom, spiral-shaped turns obtained when weaving ropes, etc.

Symbolic ornament. The unity of nature of symbolic images of works of ornamental art contributed to the formation of a symbolic ornament. The images of this type of ornament, basically, are symbols or a system of symbols. Symbolistic ornament appeared in ancient Egypt and other countries of the Ancient East.

Geometric ornament. This ornament originated by combining technical and symbolic ornaments. Thanks to this merger of two ornaments, more complex versions of images, devoid of plot value, were obtained. The rejection of the plot allowed to focus on the alternation of individual natural motifs. The gradual development of basic geometric forms led to those forms that modern art uses and which are distinguished by particular diversity and elegance in the works of Arabic-Mauritanian and Gothic decorative art.

Greek floral ornament It is the most common ornament, after the geometric. It is characterized by its motives, which may vary in different countries at different times. Floral ornament uses a variety of plant parts: leaves, flowers, fruits, taken together or separately. This is an artistic processing of various forms of the plant world, where the original forms, scales, colors change, all the typical features of the plant are enhanced. Often these changes are so significant that the original form becomes unrecognizable. The most common plant forms are: acanthus, lotus, papyrus, palm hop, laurel, grapevine, ivy, oak.

Epigraphic (calligraphic) ornament. This ornament consists of individual letters or text elements. The art of calligraphy has developed most fully in China, Japan, Iran and a number of Arab countries, and was used in Ancient Russia, playing an important role in decorating various articles of decorative and applied arts.

Fantastic ornament. The basis of this type of ornament are images of an imaginary, not existing. The fantastic ornament depicting scenes from the life of fabulous animals was especially popular in the countries of the Ancient East (Egypt, Assyria, China and India). In the Middle Ages, it gained particular popularity due to religious prohibitions (in Western European countries, in Byzantium, the iconoclasm era, in the Muslim countries of the Near and Middle East).

Astral ornament (from the word “aster” – star). The main elements are the image of the sky, sun, clouds, stars. Most common in Japan and China.

Landscape ornament. The main objects of this ornament are natural motifs: mountains, trees, rocks, waterfalls, sometimes found in combination with architectural motifs and elements of animal ornament. Especially great development received in arts and crafts of Japan and China.

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