The arabesque is a form of artistic decoration consisting of “surface decorations based on rhythmic linear patterns of scrolling and interlacing foliage, tendrils” or plain lines, often combined with other elements.
Within the very wide range of Eurasian decorative art that includes motifs matching this basic definition the term “arabesque” is used consistently as a technical term by art historians to describe only elements of the decoration found in two phases: Islamic art from about the 9th century onwards, and European decorative art from the Renaissance onwards (see Arabesque (European art). Arabesques are a fundamental element of Islamic art but they develop what was already a long tradition by the coming of Islam. The past and current usage of the term in respect of European art can only be described as confused and inconsistent. Some Western arabesques derive from Islamic art, but others are closely based on Ancient Roman decorations. In the West they are essentially found in the decorative arts, but because of the generally non-figurative nature of Islamic art arabesque decoration is there often a very prominent element in the most significant works, and plays a large part in the decoration of architecture.
Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia