Crossing Borders/Breaking Boundaries IV:
The Impact of Islamic Culture on the Arts of the Renaissance

July 19-26, 2004
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Lesson Title: Islamic Rugs

Teacher: Jennifer Fox, Perryville High School, Group A

Discipline: Art/Creative Crafts

Interdisciplinary Connections: Geometry, History, English, Music

Grades: 9-12

Class Time: Three weeks, or 15 classes of 80 minute block periods

Unit Overview (Abstract & Big Idea): Students will explore the history of Islamic rugs and produce a hooked rug with an Islamic design. By exploring the ancient culture and geography of the Islamic World, students will identify the transfer of ideas and the movement and development of ideas through decorative arts. Students will demonstrate understanding of balance through the use of geometric shapes and unity through color.

Maryland Essential Learner Outcomes for the Fine Arts:

1. Outcome I. Perceiving, Performing, & Responding-
Expectation A: Indicator 2
Expectation B: Indicator 2
Expectation C: Indicator 1

2. Outcome II. Historical, Cultural, and Social Contexts
Expectation B: Indicator 1
Expectation C: Indicator 1
Expectation D: Indicator 1

3. Outcome III. Creative Expression & Production
Expectation A: Indicator 2
Expectation B: Indicator 1

4. Outcome IV. Making Aesthetic Judgments-
Expectation A: Indicator 2

Essential Questions:

Why are styles of handcrafted Islamic products fairly uniform despite the wide geographical spectrum?
What do decorative details suggest about the societies that created them?
Why is Islamic design noteworthy?
How has American Folk Art been influenced by Ancient Islamic rug design?
What other cultures and traditions have been influenced by Islamic rug design?
How do shapes tessellate? Do all shapes tessellate?
What is the difference between abstract and representational artwork?
How does a composition appear balanced if it is asymmetrical?
Why should an artist utilize a color scheme for a design?

Vocabulary and Keywords:

Balance-Symmetry, Asymmetry, Radial
Color Schemes-Split Compliments and
Folk Art
Knot or scroll work
Loop Pile



Packets with Design Examples
Article copies on Islamic Culture
Power Point on Rugs
iBook and LCD Projector
Examples of Hooked Rugs with
Islamic Inspired Designs
Drawing Paper
Drawing Pencils
Large newsprint sheets
Fabric Crayons
Clothing Iron
Shoe Boxes
Computer and printer with paper
Class set of iBooks on a cart
Burlap Squares Cut to size
Rug hooks
12” Embroidery frames
Overhead Projector
Colored Pencils

Cloth scraps (preferably wool)
Music CDs of Flamenco Music
Color Islamic Rug Pattern
Color Western Art Pattern
Various Graphic Organizers
Sprinted Self-evaluation Forms
Graph Paper
Pencil Sharpeners
2 Hand Rotary Trimmers
Cardboard or self healing Mats
2 Clear 18” Grid Rulers
Copies of reading-“The Fabric of
Prestige and Elegance: Imports and Imitations of Muslim Textiles” (from Douglass Text)

Geometers Sketchpad Software ®

Metropolitan Museum of Art – Carpet Detail Hunt

Types of Oriental Carpets

Celtic Knot work for Dummies

Caliphs and Kings The Art and Influence of Islamic Spain – Sackler Gallery

Metropolitan Museum of Art – Time Line of Art History

A Power Point on rugs is Presentation 8 Oriental Rugs in the list of PPTs.

Bourgoin, J., Islamic Patterns, Dover Publications, Inc., New York, 1986.

Douglass, Susan and Karima, Alavi, The Emergence of Renaissance: Cultural
Interactions Between Europeans and Muslims
. Fountain Valley, CA, Councilor
Islamic Education, 1999.

Stone, Peter F., The Oriental Rug Lexicon, Thames and Hudson, Great Britain, 1997.

Wilson, Eva, Islamic Designs for Artists and Craftspeople, Dover Publications, Inc., New
York, 1988.

Scope and Sequence:

Day 1-Student pairs respond to T.A.P.P.s questions “What do you know about Islamic culture and arts?” Students receive two articles, one on Islamic Culture and one on Islamic Textiles. The teacher models a visual summary of the cultural content, students fill in a graphic organizer with the content. Students independently read article on textiles. In groups they complete a graphic organizer portion and summary. Group’s present content, each group covers a different era of textiles. Students take notes from each group in the rest of the graphic organizer. Graphic organizers and notes are kept in sketchbooks/notebooks. Applicable terms are defined and written in sketchbook with vocabulary.

Day 2- Students complete the know section of a “Know, Want To Know, Learn” graphic organizer for Islamic Rugs. By tables, students are given color examples of different regional rugs with the understanding that they are going to place them on a map for the accurate region of origin. The teacher takes students on an Internet tour with the LCD projector of the ancient Islamic regions, on a map from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and shows regional rugs and tapestries. Students and teacher discuss visual qualities and similarities. While students view the site, they complete a map with place names at their seats. Students are asked by table to tack their rug sample image to the map. Through further discussion students respond to how and why there are similarities and differences. Students complete the Want to Know section of a “Know, Want To Know, Learn” graphic organizer for Islamic Rugs. Graphic organizers and notes are kept in sketchbooks/notebooks. Applicable terms are defined and written in sketchbook with vocabulary.

Day 3- Students work in groups to create a brainstorm list. Then the class shares their ideas on the overhead and in their sketchbooks. The list includes colors, shapes, designs and design principles visible on rug examples tacked on the map in the classroom bulletin board. What color schemes are common to Islamic rugs? Directions for creating knot work on graph paper and packets of examples are distributed to students. The teacher demonstrates on the overhead how to design knot work. Students work on graph paper designing or modeling designs in their sketchbooks. Homework of one page of practice and one page with four different designs is assigned and due the following week. Students respond to the question about art in their sketchbooks: Where do you think Celtic knot work finds its origin how and why? Students share their responses. Applicable terms are defined and written in sketchbook with vocabulary.

Day 4 and 5-Students define tessellation in their sketchbook vocabulary. Students are each given an example of an artwork detail that features pattern. The artworks are of Islamic Renaissance and Western origin. Students are to find a person whose artwork matches their own in visual qualities by wondering, looking, and discussing what they see. Each pair of students stands up and describes how their images are similar. Students tack the pattern pairs to the bulletin board after they have discussed the Eastern and Western similarities. Students utilize the Geometer’s Sketchpad Software ® from an iBook mobile lab cart. Students complete a series of structured tasks with tessellation and pattern making and eventually create a pattern to be graded, printed, and placed in their sketchbooks.

Day 6-Students are shown a Power Point Presentation from the Internet about Eastern Rugs and Tapestries. Students define carpet vocabulary in their sketchbooks and, in groups, create a list of steps on how to make a rug. The class reviews the lists together. Students are introduced to hooked rug folk art connections with Islamic art through examples of rugs made with Islamic designs. Students compare and contrast balance in a symmetrical, asymmetrical, and radial design examples. How are these different compositions exhibiting balance? Students are given project and sketch criteria and begin making sketches for final rug designs. The teacher confers with students one on one about their sketches and ideas.

Day 7- The teacher shows students teacher-made visuals for making a hooked rug. The teacher demonstrates how to draw a large template with pencil and drawing tools on newsprint, color with fabric crayons, and transfer with an iron to burlap. Students continue sketches for final designs. When given teacher approval, students transfer smaller sketch to newsprint and color in with fabric crayon to transfer to burlap. Any preliminary sketches not completed are to be finished as homework. All sketches and enlargements are to follow criteria and are graded.

Day 8- Homework of one page of knot work practice and one page with four different designs is due and graded at the beginning of class. Students continue enlarging and transferring sketches to newsprint. Students choose fabric colors and textures in their shoebox. Those ready are shone one on one how to fit their burlap into the embroidery frame. The whole class observes a demonstration with the hand held rotary trimmers, learns how to cut cloth into strips, and signs and hands in a completed safety contract.

Day 9- The teacher gives students visual picture instructions on rug hooking and demonstrates technique. The teacher circulates to help get students started. Students continue to cut cloth and begin hooking. Students are to leave artwork in room unless prior approval is given.

Day 10-13- Exemplary student work is shared with the whole class. The teacher plays Flamenco and Islamic music while students hook rugs. The teacher circulates to help get students started. Students continue to cut cloth as needed. Finishing edges for hanging or sewing a pillow back and closure are demonstrated by the teacher with in-process examples. Students should work toward completing either a wall hanging or a pillow. Students are to leave artwork in room unless prior approval is given.

Days 14-15- Students discuss and critique class work. Discussion is to focus on technique, quality, and how well work completed follows criteria. Students respond to their own work on a written self-evaluation form. Responses focus on strengths and weaknesses in completing the project criteria. Students are read examples of an A and a D quality artist’s statement for a hooked rug. Following a formal critique format, students write an artist’s statement for their artwork. Those who are still working can continue hooking. All written work is due with artwork. Exemplary student work is displayed in hall cases and/or on bulletin boards with artist’s statements.


-Written artist statement
-Product of Sketchbook homework
-Written self-evaluation of the hooked rug
-Product of Sketchbook drawings and class notes
-Class participation in discussions, studio work, and critiques
-Performance and product of a finished hooked rug or pillow with an Islamic Design

Sponsored by
the Center for Renaissance & Baroque Studies
and the Maryland State Department of Education