One Common Motif

One of the simplest and most common of Islamic patterns, this design is no more than an octagonal star motif set inside a square bounding box (the method of construction can be seen in Figure 1). When the unit is repeated however a second element, namely the cross, emerges (see Figure 2). There are relatively few Islamic designs with just two space-filling shapes that occupy broadly similar areas and this opens up the opportunity for much experiment.
Exploiting the potential 3-dimensionality of the pattern is simply a matter of deciding whether the star or the cross should represent the foreground and which the background. In other words are we looking at a lattice of stars or crosses.
In addition, the simplicity of this design makes it ideal for experimenting with distortions, especially as the two units are of similar size. In the example shown only a basic colouring device has been used (Figure 3) but a more complex use of this pattern can be seen in the design for August '78.
The method of construction shown here appears in numerous pattern books. One such is on page 15 of Geometric Concepts in Islamic Art by Issam El-Said & Ayse Parman


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