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The Deconstruction of an Islamic Pattern from a Quranic Illumination

Firstly, we could simply turn to one of the numerous pattern books on the market and try to find one that matches. It is unlikely that we would find an identical design since each artist tends to add their own variations on a standard model. Finding an approximation would of course be useful but in this case I could not find anything close enough. This is perhaps not too surprising since designs based on ten-sided polygons occur infrequently. Secondly, we could trace the original and scale it up to the desired size. This method would enable us to reproduce the original, but it would tell us little of the underlying structure. Thirdly, we could attempt to find the main construction lines using our knowledge of geometry. In this instance the arrangement of the decagonal forms clearly indicates that both the x and y axes can be divided into four equal sections such that the centre of each decagon coincides with an intersection on the grid so formed (see Figure 2). By careful examination of the design we further note that certain lines allow us to determine the horizontal and vertical spacing of the decagons. They are not perfect lines but are close enough and have enough geometric purity to them that we may assume any errors can be attributed to graphical misplacement or artistic interpretation. In Figure 2 the red lines, which are coincident with one side of two adjacent decagons and pass through the mid point between them, enable us to calculate the horizontal displacements. The blue lines, which pass through the centre of the decagon in the middle are also coincident with sides of decagons diametrically opposite each other which provide the information needed to calculate the vertical spacing. Construction - Step 1 Using the red line feature in Figure 2 we can calculate the grid spacing in terms of the radius of the circumscribing circles around the decagons - See Figure 3. Calculation of 'X' OB = r (where r is the radius of the circumscribing circle) Angle BOA = 72 degrees (ie 2/10ths of 360 degrees at O) Angle OBA = 72 degrees (since segments of the decagon are isosceles) Therefore triangle OBA is isosceles Drop a perpendicular from A to line OB to form a right angled triangle OAC where OC = r/2 The Cosine of 72 degrees = r/2 divided by X Therefore X = r/2Cos72 = 1.618r We now have the horizontal scaling needed to build our rectangle. But we also have something else. The number 1.618