Considered one of the four major categories of art along with architecture, sculpture, and painting, ornament is broadly defined as a complicated decorative patterning device that may exude intense emotion, give pleasure, and enhance beauty. Trilling, who was curator of Old World Textiles at the Textile Museum in Washington, DC. presents a fabulous array of ornament throughout the ages.
James Trilling presents an immense variety of ornament from the Paleolithic Age to the present day, enabling the reader to appreciate inherent form and beauty, as well as historical importance across cultures - whether in the monumental architecture of Mycenean Greece or the inlaid vessels of Zhou Dynasty China, in the bronze mirrors of early Celtic Britain or the carved or worn ornament of Native Americans. He balances the characteristics of individual styles against their evolution and interaction between cultures, focusing in particular on patterns which have migrated across large stretches of space and time, reflecting the interactions through trade, conquest and the spread of religions. The Language of Ornament is a companion and guide to the global panorama of ornament in terms that will be of equal value to craftworkers, collectors and students of art history.