You are on page 1of 3

Part II: Alternate Lacings, Alternate Symmetries.

Islamic Geometric Ornament: Construction of the Twelve Point Islamic Star

There is some flexibility in the final tracing practice for the figures in the Islamic star. The two final lacings of the same layout above are both consistent with historic practice and yield two dramatically different structures. The figure on the right has broken the symmetry of the twelve point star on the left. The right side figure shows a sixfold symmetric star and has dramatically affected the structure of the minor elements formed in the tiling. Both figures are common historic patterns. Major star symmetry was traded for overall symmetry.
Alan D Adams, Holland, New York, March 2013. License: Creative Commons -Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) Text, photos and drawings.

In structures with symmetries other than five or ten fold, the minor stars formed in tiling are one of the most difficult elements to adjust for pleasing symmetry; they cannot be symmetric stars. An easy way to deal with them is to eliminate them. Changing the structure at the end of the major star arm can change the elements formed in tiling to figures where the eye does not make such extreme demands on symmetry. Everyone knows what a symmetric star should look like. Poor symmetry is displeasing. Structures where less symmetry is expected are better tolerated.

The layouts of both chapter head figures are identical in all respects until the arm ends are defined. The original definition of the pattern, as a parallel arm star tiling tip to tip still completely defines six of the arms on the left. In the first parallel arm star, a decision was made to complete the six remaining arms to yield 12 fold symmetry by making all twelve arms identical. This yields the highest possible symmetry in the center of the figure, but it is not the only option. It is always legitimate to extend the arm layout to intersect the tiling polygon, as in the figure on the right above. Where the red arm layout line leaves the tiling polygon, two options exist. -The line can stop at the boundary. This will result in a line continuing across the boundary with a change in direction when the figure is tiled if the angle is not 90, which it is not here. -The line can continue across a tiling boundary without changing direction. When the line continues straight across, tiling rules require the line to re-enter the layout at the same angle it crossed the boundary; it is reflected. These rules are simple and general to all layouts, but they do require some care in application to successfully design a symmetric layout. Using the second rule and extending the arm layout line to cross straight across at the tiling hexagon completely defines the difference between the chapter heading figures. This is an extremely simple layout.

Tiling rules define exactly what happens at point (o) above, the reflection at the tiling edge. The completely general construction is somewhat long, but it is trivial here. Where the red arm layout leaves the tiling edge a perpendicular (o m) is constructed and the line re-enters the pattern at (o) on the opposite side of this perpendicular at the same angle. In practice this means that we locate points (n) and (n) equidistant from the perpendicular on a circle. Most of this work is unnecessary here. The layout hexagon, on which points (n) and (n) lie, is parallel to the tiling hexagon on which point (o) lies. Drawing the circle (o n) locates point (n) where circle (o n) intersects the layout hexagon again. The line (o n) is extended to intersect the radius at (r) and the point (r) is transferred to the remaining radii by drawing the usual layout circle, (o r). The layout is completed on the left. The change in symmetry is apparent rather than real. The first parallel arm star constructed had 12 fold symmetry for the star, but the overall figure shared the symmetry of the tile, sixfold, due to extensions on 6 arms. This historically common pattern is one way to deal with problem symmetry elements; several more will be shown. This is one of very few parallel arm lacing variants which maintain the central importance of the star. Others will be shown in alternate tilings. There are far more tapered arm star variations, shown next.