Abstract

Symmetry: Culture and Science
Volume 29, Number 2, pages 279-301 (2018)
https://doi.org/10.26830/symmetry_2018_2_279

NEITHER SIMPLE NOR PERFECT: FROM DEFECT SYMMETRIES TO CONSCIOUS PATTERN VARIATIONS IN ISLAMIC ORNAMENTAL ART

Emil Makovicky* and Meghdad Ghari**

* Corresponding author. Institute for Geoscience and Natural Resources Management, University of Copenhagen, Østervoldgade 10, DK1350 Copenhagen, Denmark
E-mail: emilm@ign.ku.dk

** School of Mathematics, Institute for Research in Fundamental Sciences (IPM), P.O. Box: 19395-5746, Tehran, Iran
E-mail: meghdadghari@gmail.com

Abstract: In spite of the universally accepted perfection of Islamic ornamental art, a number of symmetry and periodicity defects can be recognized and defined in its works. Element exchanges in periodic patterns are common. The flexibility of Iranian Kond tiling can lead to a ‘liquid’ matrix with embedded fast elements. Application of planar tiling to muqarnas and vaults generates complicated pattern boundaries and motif confluence. Construction of misoriented domains on planar surfaces leads to complex domain boundaries and finally to block structures. Combination of two or three symmetries in one ornamental panel was prominent in the Alhambra (Spain). Orientation and composition errors in square tilings with painted decorations enable us to consider the tile-laying practices of the day. This survey includes all gradations from pure construction errors and misunderstandings between the producers and the on-site users of the art material to the conscious design of complicated superstructures and symmetries.

Keywords: Islamic ornamental art, periodic patterns, Kond tiling, domain misfit, symmetry combinations, orientation errors, muqarnas