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## from nceca, question on islamic tiles for marcia (long)

### Lea Holland on thu 15 mar 07

I really enjoyed Marcia Selsor and Stephani Stephenson's lecture, "Moorish
Tiles: From Asia to California" today. Fascinating history, beautiful photos=

of exquisite buildings and complex tiles.

Throughout the lecture, I was remembering a recent article that caught my
eye in the New York Times because of its colorful photos and diagrams of
Islamic tile patterns.

It was about the discovery, published in the journal "Science" by Peter Lu
of Harvard and Paul Steinhardt of Princeton, of the knowledge of advanced
mathematics by designers of complex Islamic tile patterns in the thirteenth
century.

The overview from the article in Science reads:
(http://www.physics.harvard.edu/~plu/research/islamic_quasicrystal/)

"The conventional view holds that girih (geometric star-and-polygon, or
strapwork) patterns in medieval Islamic architecture were conceived by their=

designers as a network of zigzagging lines, where the lines were drafted
directly with a straightedge and a compass. We show that by 1200 C.E. a
conceptual breakthrough occurred in which girih patterns were reconceived as=

tessellations of a special set of equilateral polygons (=93girih tiles=94)
decorated with lines. These tiles enabled the creation of increasingly
complex periodic girih patterns, and by the 15th century, the tessellation
approach was combined with self-similar transformations to construct nearly
perfect quasi-crystalline Penrose patterns, five centuries before their
discovery in the West."

Quoting the NYT:
(http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/27/science/27math.html?ex=3D1174104000&en=3D=
6a1dac6d71820c27&ei=3D5070)

"Some of the most complex patterns, called =93girih=94 in Persian, consist o=
f
sets of contiguous polygons fitted together with little distortion and no
gaps. Running through each polygon (a decagon, pentagon, diamond, bowtie or
hexagon) is a decorative line. Mr. Lu found that the interlocking tiles were=

arranged in predictable ways to create a pattern that never repeats =97 that=

is, quasi crystals.

He [Dr. Lu] and Dr. Steinhardt recognized that the artisans in the 13th
century had begun creating mosaic patterns in this way. The geometric
star-and-polygon girihs, as quasi crystals, can be rotated a certain number
of degrees, say one-fifth of a circle, to positions from which other tiles
are fitted. As such, this makes possible a pattern that is infinitely big
and yet the pattern never repeats itself, unlike the tiles on the typical
floor."

Okay, Marcia, after that long introduction, here is my question: how can
they say that these patterns never repeat themselves? Looking at the
illustrations, it seems to me that each grouping of shapes creates a repeat
"unit", and those units join together in ever larger repeating patterns...
how is that unlike the tile on the typical floor?

I think what really has my panties in a bunch is the idea that
mathematicians have co-opted my idea of Islamic tiles as dearly beloved
patterns infused with mystery and romance. Maybe I would feel better about
the article if a ceramic artist or art historian had been involved in its
development!

Lea in Louisville, usually in Memphis.

### Ivor and Olive Lewis on sat 17 mar 07

Dear Lea Holland

One of the best resources for anyone wishing to exploit these patterns =
is ;

Issam El-Said and Ayse Parman. "Geometric Concepts in Islamic Art" ISBN =
0-905035-03-8. I paid \$Au 6-95 in 1953. Alan Peascod was in front of me =
in the queue to the till. He had the only other copy.

Best regards,

Ivor Lewis.
Redhill,
South Australia.

### stephani stephenson on sat 17 mar 07

Thank you Lea for your positive feedback on the
presentation!
it recently when the author was interviewed on public
i do not have a grasp of the scientific aspects of
this but it is something more to learn ,
another part of the overall mosaic. people 1000 years
ago had the same brains, the same intellect the same
skills as we do,
you can't help but wonder .. and want to travel back
in tome to interview these artist/scinetists....how
did you figure this out... look at the tools , etc.

Stephani Stephenson

____________________________________________________________________________________
Bored stiff? Loosen up...
http://games.yahoo.com/games/front

### Lea Holland on sun 18 mar 07

> people 1000 years ago had the same brains, the same intellect the same
>skills as we do, you can't help but wonder .. and want to travel back
>in tome to interview these artist/scinetists....how did you figure this
out... look at the tools , >etc.
>
>
>Stephani Stephenson

Stephani,

I can understand the architects being well versed in mathematics, and giving
the tools of the 5 shapes to the designers to work with (without needing the
indepth understanding of math). I can see the designers cutting paper/wood
templates out to play with potential designs. Luckily, we have computers to
help make the job less tedious.

I've read a novel about that period in Persia, and how the artisans worked
in studios, and were heavily dictated to by tradition and the
emperor/pasha's desires for art... Artists then had very little idea of
personal creativity, everything was for the glory of God and the ruler. And
yet they created such marvels, anyway!

Lea

### Jacqueline Miller on mon 19 mar 07

Lea: What was the name of the novel. sounds interesting.
Jackie

On 3/18/07, Lea Holland wrote:
> > people 1000 years ago had the same brains, the same intellect the same
> >skills as we do, you can't help but wonder .. and want to travel back
> >in tome to interview these artist/scinetists....how did you figure this
> out... look at the tools , >etc.
> >
> >thanls for sharing the links.
> >
> >Stephani Stephenson
>
>
> Stephani,
>
> I can understand the architects being well versed in mathematics, and giving
> the tools of the 5 shapes to the designers to work with (without needing the
> indepth understanding of math). I can see the designers cutting paper/wood
> templates out to play with potential designs. Luckily, we have computers to
> help make the job less tedious.
>
> I've read a novel about that period in Persia, and how the artisans worked
> in studios, and were heavily dictated to by tradition and the
> emperor/pasha's desires for art... Artists then had very little idea of
> personal creativity, everything was for the glory of God and the ruler. And
> yet they created such marvels, anyway!
>
> Lea
>
> ______________________________________________________________________________
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--
Jackie Miller
JackieAMiller@gmail.com

### Bryan Johnson on mon 19 mar 07

Lea Holland wrote:
> Luckily, we have computers to
> help make the job less tedious.
>
>
About five minutes afer getting the link we were cutting paper with the
tile patterns on them. Great patterns started spreading across the floor.

Now I am wondering what are the clever ways of making tiles that are
those shapes easily and precisely?

Bryan Johnson

### Lea Holland on wed 21 mar 07

The name of the book I was thinking of is:

My Name is Red, by Orhan Pamuk, ISBN 0375706852

>Lea: What was the name of the novel. sounds interesting.
>Jackie

>>
>> I've read a novel about that period in Persia, and how the artisans worked
>> in studios, and were heavily dictated to by tradition and the
>> emperor/pasha's desires for art... Artists then had very little idea of
>> personal creativity, everything was for the glory of God and the ruler. And
>> yet they created such marvels, anyway!
>>
>> Lea
>>
>>

### Rikki Gill on wed 21 mar 07

Hi Lea,

Orhan Pamuk has been one of my favorite authors since I read, My Name Is
Red. He is in fact, Turkish. It is about painting rather than ceramics.

I have loved Islamic art since I spent a year in India, but that was mostly
Persian influenced art because India was part of the Moghul empire.
A year or two ago I spent some time in London where there is a lot of
Turkish ceramics to be seen. I hadn't known quite how different it is,
still under the umbrella of Islamic art. Pamuk's history was quite
enlightening, and I had a chance to ask him personally at a book signing
about a disturbing thing mentioned in the book, namely the self blinding of
artists when their sight began to fail. He affirmed the custom. They
preferred to blind themselves rather than see less, and looked at the most
beautiful art just prior to the act.

It is a great, complex work, wonderfully written.

Best,

Rikki
----- Original Message -----
From: "Lea Holland"
To:
Sent: Wednesday, March 21, 2007 6:18 AM
Subject: Re: From NCECA, question on Islamic tiles for Marcia (long)

> The name of the book I was thinking of is:
>
> My Name is Red, by Orhan Pamuk, ISBN 0375706852
>
>
>
>>Lea: What was the name of the novel. sounds interesting.
>>Jackie
>
>>>
>>> I've read a novel about that period in Persia, and how the artisans
>>> worked
>>> in studios, and were heavily dictated to by tradition and the
>>> emperor/pasha's desires for art... Artists then had very little idea of
>>> personal creativity, everything was for the glory of God and the ruler.
>>> And
>>> yet they created such marvels, anyway!
>>>
>>> Lea
>>>
>>>
>
> ______________________________________________________________________________
> Send postings to clayart@lsv.ceramics.org
>
> You may look at the archives for the list or change your subscription
> settings from http://www.ceramics.org/clayart/
>
> Moderator of the list is Mel Jacobson who may be reached at