This collective study focuses on a unique anonymous medieval document on ornamental geometry featuring geometrical constructions and textual instructions in Persian. Selections from the unpublished work of Alpay Özdural (d. 2003) on this subject have been updated with original contributions by Jan P. Hogendijk, Elaheh Kheirandish, Gülru Necipoğlu, and Wheeler M. Thackston. The chapters interpreting this fascinating document are followed, for the first time, by a facsimile, transcription, and translation, as well as drawings of incised construction lines invisible in the photographed facsimile.
This publication intersects with the current interest in Islamic geometrical patterning as an inspiration for tessellation and parametrically derived forms in contemporary architecture and the arts. It aims to make this celebrated source more accessible, given its multifaceted relevance to historians of art, architecture, and science, as well as mathematicians, physicists, artists, and architects.
For those who wish to obtain a copy of the full, unedited original book manuscript of Alpay Özdural, where he discusses the mathematical properties of all geometrical constructions in the Anonymous Compendium as well as the step-by-step method for drawing each one, his work is available online at https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.5255416
Gülru Necipoğlu (Ph.D. Harvard 1986) is the Aga Khan Professor of Islamic Art and Director of the Aga Khan Program at Harvard University. Her books include
The Topkapı Scroll: Geometry and Ornament in Islamic Architecture and
The Age of Sinan: Architectural Culture in the Ottoman Empire
In the medieval era, Persia stood at the crossroads of great empires, a place where ancient learning, and new, coalesced to create new forms and perspectives. Although we may never fully grasp it firmly, Necipoğlu offers the most detailed description of its contours and the most compelling explanation of how one of the world’s great geometric traditions took shape. Fascinating and well researched,
The Arts of Ornamental Geometry is full of previously unknown details and would be a great pedagogical introduction to this topic. It stands as a thorough work that will definitely be useful for historians of Persian architecture and mathematics.
Abdullah Drury, University of Waikato, New Zealand, in
The Muslim World Book Review, 2018
Table of contents
GÜLRU NECİPOĞLU, In Memory of Alpay Özdural and His Unrealized Book Project
GÜLRU NECİPOĞLU, Ornamental Geometries: A Persian Compendium at the Intersection of the Visual Arts and Mathematical Sciences
ELAHEH KHEIRANDISH, An Early Tradition in Practical Geometry: The Telling Lines of Unique Arabic and Persian Sources
JAN P. HOGENDIJK, A Mathematical Classification of the Contents of an Anonymous Persian Compendium on Decorative Patterns
TRANSLATION, TRANSCRIPTION, AND DRAWINGS
An English translation by Alpay Özdural of Fī tadākhul al-ashkāl al-mutashābiha aw al-mutawāfiqa(On Similar and Complementary Interlocking Figures), edited and revised by Wheeler M. Thackston, with contributions by the other authors
Accompanied by Wheeler M. Thackston’s transcription of the Persian text and Alpay Özdural’s drawings, with commentaries by Gülru Necipoğlu (based on “Analyses,” the second chapter in Alpay Özdural’s unpublished book)
A reduced-scale reproduction of Fī tadākhul al-ashkāl al-mutashābiha aw al-mutawāfiqa (Bibliothèque nationale de France, Ms. Persan 169, fols. 180r–199r)
This book is of interest to historians of art, architecture, and science, as well as to mathematicians, physicists, artists, and architects.