Saturday, April 21, 2012

Knot Art

Six pointed stars in Girih (Knot Art ) at the
Mustansiriya Madrasah, Baghdad, Iraq, 1227
CC Picture from Wikipedia entry: Mustansiriya Madrasah

Girih (meaning knot in Persian) is the name of geometric interlacing patterns in Islamic decorative art that can be considered as a type of arabesque. Researchers assume that Girih was influenced by Roman knot patterns dating back to the 2nd century C.E.

 Roman knot pattern (Solomon's Knot) from Aquileia Basilica 
CC Picture from Wikipedia entry: Solomon's Knot [1]

Six pointed stars are seen often times in Girih. One of the first examples of Girih is at the Mustansiriya Madrasah in Baghdad, Iraq (see picture above). Other early examples are found at the Umayyad Mosque (709–715) in Damascus, Syria (in window screens) and at Khirbat al-Mafjar in Jericho (c.730)-  in window grills with curved lines. Girih appears frequently also in Moghul art.
Geometry or mathematics may explain the composition and the basic meaning of symbols like stars with 5 ,6 ,8 points, but their interlacing seems to be influenced by previous knot art

Interlaced Pentagram in Capernaum, Israel
Courtesy of Gabi Goldman

Interlaced Octagram in East Jerusalem, Israel
Photographer: Ze'ev Barkan
[1] Solomon's Knot is called in Latin Sigillum Salomonis, meaning literally "seal of Solomon". This name was ascribed sometimes also to the 5 or 6 pointed stars. Lois Rose Rose in her book Seeing Solomon's Knot (2005, ISBN 097776700-0) claims that examples of Solomon's Knot are dated back to 30000 B.C.E. 

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