An ornament (from Latin ornare "to decorate, adorn, arrange, equip") is a usually repeating, often abstract or abstracted pattern with a symbolic function in itself. Ornaments are found on fabrics, buildings, wallpaper. The term ornament is mistakenly confused with the terms ornamentation or decoration, which describe an agglomeration of decorative elements used in an embellishing function. Ornaments, however, are often components or motifs in decorative arts, such as arts and crafts. As a single ornamental motif, it is thus a part of decoration.
Each ornament differs formally clearly from the background pattern and is often distinguished by color or elevation. Ceramic vessels decorated with ornaments can be found as early as the Stone Age. Ornaments can be formed representationally from floral or fantasy patterns. Flowers and foliate ornaments are common in churches, cathedrals, cloisters, and other buildings on columns or bay windows, as well as on ceilings (stucco) or house entrances. Ornaments may also include abstract forms, such as traditional clan patterns or tribal symbols, to indicate the affiliation of the wearer. They are particularly common in Islamic art (because of the ban on images there) as arabesques.
Ornamentation is the term used to describe the totality of ornaments in terms of their forms typical within a particular stylistic period or for a particular art object, as well as the art of ornamentation. The ornamentation of classical column architecture occupies a special position here, as it generally follows a tectonic logic. The individual ornaments are understood as reminiscences of constructive elements of the early Greek wooden architecture. The appropriate use of individual ornaments is thus subject to canonical ties and is a defining theme of early modern architectural theory.