Well, I don’t update this blog very often, do I?!
Here’s a mountain bike wheel that strikes me as very Zelij-like:
You can’t really discuss zelij without thinking about it’s symmetry, and the TED.com talk below is an excellent primer on the subject. Marcus du Sautoy is the new science ambassador for Oxford University, and his talk below includes some discussion of the Al Hambra, whose patterns – of course – are intimately related to those of Morroco.
Despite being one of the most aesthetically pleasing methods of covering a surface, zelij seems hardly to have moved out of it’s main sites of origin of Morocco and southern Spain.
Certainly I never see anything in London that resembles it in public spaces – we get stuck with very ordinary tiling patterns on the whole – but this morning I spotted an interesting manhole cover, with a pattern not unlike the central stars of many a zelij pattern:
Borough High St, London, SE1
I don’t think the Moroccans would stick a rather awkward square in the middle though…
Copied out of Jean Marie Castera’s ‘Arabesques’:
Could do it better if I was using a ruler and not half watching the Apprentice.
The point is – if you are at all interested in the construction and art of zelij, you have to have this book:
It’s a quite pricey, but worth every single penny.
A fellow has created an applet to generate zelij patterns automatically:
I have to say, despite the knowledgeable sounding intro, the patterns generated are not very authentic (at least I couldn’t get anything to look very authentic)
The failing seems to be in the construction of the patterns – I have a book which describes a much better system which if implemented would generate much better patterns (but would this be a bit of a soulless process? Part of the attraction is the effort required and the artistry of the original craftsmen)
This is a quantum chip – using principles of superposition of individual atoms to perform calculations. Known as Qubits for Quantum Bits, the pattern is pleasingly zelij-like.
A fine new3 part documentary has just begun on BBC4 about the history of science in Islamic countries between the 8th & 14th centuries.
It’s not exactly Zelij related, but without a good understanding of mathematics and geometry, the art of Zelij would be well nigh impossible, and these documentaries explore how such knowledge was acquired and discovered at this early period.
It can be watched online at this url, at least for the next month or so, but probably only if you are based in the UK:
A nice example of Islamic astronomy showing different phases of the moon by a scholar called al-Bīrūnī who lived in the 10th century in what is now Afghanistan.
Came across some more photos I took in Marrakesh & Fez.
Column with repeating 8-point star
Am especially impressed with the way the column face is exactly the right width for the design.
Three interwoven 8-point stars in the ‘wicker-work’ style
16 point star
Slightly more elaborate…
64-point star ceiling
Normally the centre star in designs have 8 points; 16 if the designer was in an extravagant mood (see above). However one particular palace had many 32 and 64 point stars. Complexity nearly to the point of absurdity, and actually not as aesthetically pleasing as the simpler designs, in my humble opinion.
Youtube footage of a tile worker laying a tile flooring.
It has a happy ending.