V&A Style in Islamic Art Quiz

Big cats

A popular Ottoman decorative motif was a group of three spots arranged in a triangle. Another was a pair of wavy lines. For centuries these patterns had been used across Asia to represent leopard spots and tiger stripes, as seen on live animals or on the skins that served as clothing or rugs. Since animal and human figures were not common in Ottoman art, the spots and stripes became purely decorative patterns. They were often used in combination, or mixed with other designs.

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Turkey, probably Istanbul
1570-90
Museum No. 425-1900

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