Geometric patterns made by Moroccan zillij, mosaic materpieces, capture attention and mesmerize. For me, the facination with zillij is so overwhelming that it makes me love Moroccan artistic traditions. It also drives me to write and produce this blog. More
I’ve been thinking about the number three lately. Not unusual if you consider how much three pops-up in our collective psyche: three cheers; red, yellow, green; the Holy Trinity; birth, life, death; three primary colors. Three expresses the tripartite wholeness of our universe. We instinctively recognize it. Three is a group. Less is nothing much really and more than three is excessive or redundant. More
In Hay Riad, Rabat, there is a street that has new government buildings, including the wedge-shaped Institute for Amizigh Culture. At the end of this street is a gateway, an arched transition. I cannot read the Arabic mixed with the geometric ornament on the gate’s façade. But I know what the doorway represents. It calls attention to the action of coming and going, one and two, moving between the square (worldly) and circular (perfect).
I got an e-mail from an artist who is constructing Islamic patterns and was wondering about the use of a grid. Since there are only three regular tessellations; square, hexagon, and triangle, I think each of those grid types would be useful as a base for constructing complex patterns. I found some free downloadable grid papers online. Scroll down the page and you’ll find triangles, hexagons, and even octagons, all which should be very useful for learning how to construct zillij patterns. Some writers state zillij designs are constructed through circles, but I am confident there are more straight forward grids underlying them. Let me know how it works out for you if you try them.
Some tips on creating Islamic patterns
“Homage to Pythagoras” by Marion Drennen www.quantumconnectionsart.blogspot.com
I have found myself neck deep in Pythagorean theory, which is interesting since Pythagoras didn’t write anything. I got here by researching the origins of zillij. I’m researching connections between astronomy, Pythagoras, Sufism, and Islamic ornamentation.
Roof line at Casa Hassan, Chefchaouen, Morocco.
Driving through the Washington, DC, suburbs, it’s easy to feel the wonder has been stripped from the world. Gas is 3.699 per gallon. A bright red sign in shop windows advertises 50% off spring merchandise. People on the side of the street hold signs reading “Closeout: Leather Living Furniture. Everything Must Go!” or “Vietnam Veteran. Homeless. Please Help. God Bless.” Talk radio transmits news and events in far off places. I sit passively behind the wheel of my car, surrounded by steel.
Remember the Art of Geometry
The shape that most clearly represents Morocco in my mind’s eye is the eight-point star. It is a simple shape made by overlapping two squares. The hard-edged lines make it indicative of Moroccan patterns, which are known for their use of straight lines in contrast to the curvilinear arabesque of the Middle East. It has a feel that is both modern and ancient. What is the meaning behind this particular shape and what does it represent? (Note: this article was revised on March 24, 2008)
Read more about the eight-point star