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A World of Stars – Decorative Art in Morocco

Eight Pointed Stars

This text has been taken from the book Arabesques – decorative art in Morocco by Jean-Marc Caste´ra; Franc¸oise Peuriot; Philippe Ploquin; Kirk McElhearn. Translation from French to English was carried out by Kirk McElhearn.

The simplest 8-pointed star is made on a square skeleton whose sides are equal to 2 (this structure is shown by ine diagram at the top right). It s presented surrounded by the simple motif used to create t (gray pieces).   All this was required was to add four additional salts around 'he central seal of Solomon for this star to take form.

The simplest 8-pointed star is made on a square skeleton whose sides are equal to 2 (this structure is shown by ine diagram at the top right). It s presented surrounded by the simple motif used to create t (gray pieces). All this was required was to add four additional salts around the central seal of Solomon for this star to take form.

 

Tower with 8 Pointed Stars

Tower with 8 Pointed Stars

Assembly with octagons connected at their sides

Assembly with octagons connected at their sides

In between the octagons we can see that there is a mother of pearl leaf.

 

 

This design leads to create new pieces whose precise construction results simply from the star octagon.

 

Assembly with octagons connected to a common vertex

Assembly with octagons connected to a common vertex

In order to avoid using half pieces, the motifs are always surrounded by a strip.


Following is another embellishment of the square with sides equal to 2; a tilted 8-pointed star. Here, the central star has been rotated by one fourth of a right angle.

 

Tilted 8 pointed star. Embellishment of the square with sides equal to 2.

Tilted 8 pointed star. Embellishment of the square with sides equal to 2.


A freehand sketch of the a tilted 8 point star

A freehand sketch of the a tilted 8 point star

three new pieces

three new pieces

Lets examine some new stars by using new skeletons; a simple octagon and their additional shapes.

Octagons

An 8 pointed star in an octagonal skeleton. First draw the skeleton, then extend the lines and the solution will apear on its own. This is of  course a classical motif. (RIGHT) Two variations, one colored in positive and the other in negative of a new solutions based on the octagonal skeleton with a side of 1.

An 8 pointed star in an octagonal skeleton. First draw the skeleton, then extend the lines and the solution will apear on its own. This is of course a classical motif. (RIGHT) Two variations, one colored in positive and the other in negative of a new solutions based on the octagonal skeleton with a side of 1.

 

Here are some more new pieces for this series, each of which is clearly related to the star octagon. However there is nothing new here for Moroccan craftsmen who use them everyday and know them all well by their names.

 

Octagons need an additional piece to create periodic paving. In this example octagons connected by a common side – the complementary  piece is a square that we have already seen while in the second it is a mother of pearl leaf.

Mother of pearl leaf ready to be embellished.

Mother of pearl leaf ready to be embellished.

Below: evolution of the skeleton used to create the motif.

the final motif

motif from octagon skeletons

 

A few possibilities, among others, for flat paving using star octagon motifs. These shapes create complementary pieces with shapes that we have already seen, such as square and octagons or new ones such as diamonds, crosses or four leaf clovers. We now need to embellish these new skeletons.

An asymmetrical interpretation of a cross.

An asymmetrical interpretation of a cross.

 

Four-leaf Colovers

This motif is rarely used on its own. It is usually used together with star octagons.

The first embellishment reveals new pieces whose angles are still multiples of 45 degrees. But the pieces revealed by the second embellishment contain new angles (22.5 degrees) and are therefore more difficult to use with the seal of the Solomon.


 

 Double Octagons (two safts on each side)


Below, a zellij application (Telouet Kasbah). The Lines are embellished with the interlaces and we can see half 16-pointed starts on the side.

A Zellij Application (Telouet Kasbash).

A Zellij Application (Telouet Kasbash).

Following two sketches are examples of compositions made with 8 pointed stars. The skeleton of the first composition is clearly visible while the second one has been disguised hiding the underlying structure.

An octagon and mother of pear leaf.

Motif with octagon as underlying structure

small cross at centre

small cross at centre

Motif with mother of pearl leaf as the underlying structure

Motif with mother of pearl leaf as the underlying structure.

 

 Some Applications of the Tilted 8-Point Stars

Assembled and sculpted wood on a monumental door.

Assembled and sculpted wood on a monumental door.

(LEFT) Painted wood zouk. (RIGHT) The zeliji motifs.

(LEFT) Painted wood zouk. (RIGHT) The zeliji motifs.

 

The space is largely structured by the repetition of a simple star in a melow monochromotic atmosphere (Royal Palace Throne, Meknes)

The space is largely structured by the repetition of a simple star in a melow monochromotic atmosphere (Royal Palace Throne, Meknes)

The double octagons of zellij panels 1/2 (Baha Palace, Marrakesh and Royal Palace throne) are contained in structures that are exactly identical. The only difference is the embellishment, the choice of the variations and colors.

The double octagons of zellij panels 1/2 (Baha Palace, Marrakesh and Royal Palace throne) are contained in structures that are exactly identical. The only difference is the embellishment, the choice of the variations and colors.

The double octagons of zellij panels 2/2 (Baha Palace, Marrakesh and Royal Palace throne) are contained in structures that are exactly identical. The only difference is the embellishment, the choice of the variations and colors.

The double octagons of zellij panels 2/2 (Baha Palace, Marrakesh and Royal Palace throne) are contained in structures that are exactly identical. The only difference is the embellishment, the choice of the variations and colors.

 

Easily recognizable 8 pointed stars embedded into the decoration of the fountain (Jamai Palace)

Easily recognizable 8 pointed stars embedded into the decoration of the fountain (Jamai Palace)

 

Following are four unusual stars with three of these (first, third and fourth) being variations of the same model.

Unusal Stars 1/4: Variations of the same model. Royal Palace Throne, Rabat

Unusal Stars – Floral zelij motifs. Royal Palace Throne, Rabat

Unusal Stars: Royal Palace Throne Room, Marrakesh

Unusal Stars: Royal Palace Throne Room, Marrakesh

Unusal Stars: Dar si Said, Marrakesh

Unusal Stars: Dar si Said, Marrakesh

Unusal Stars: Royal Palace Museum (maalem Moulay Hafid)

Unusal Stars: Royal Palace Museum (maalem Moulay Hafid)

An exotic variation of the 8-pointed star on this zellij fountain in the museum libray of Muhammad V Mauscleum, Rabat. Notice how the interlaces of the top are tied together and the connections are sometimes freely made but are always logical.

An exotic variation of the 8-pointed star on this zellij fountain in the museum libray of Muhammad V Mauscleum, Rabat. Notice how the interlaces of the top are tied together and the connections are sometimes freely made but are always logical.

 

Application of the tilted 8-point star. Assembled and sculpted wood for the very unsual door (Glacu Palace, Marakesh).

Application of the tilted 8-point star. Assembled and sculpted wood for the very unsual door (Glacu Palace, Marakesh).

Application of the tilted 8-point star. Openwork wood adorned with an excuisite meshrebeeyeh (Muhammad V Mausoleum Mosque, Rabat).

Application of the tilted 8-point star. Openwork wood adorned with an excuisite meshrebeeyeh (Muhammad V Mausoleum Mosque, Rabat).

Wooden dome at the Telouet Kasbari. The proportions of the eight panels that, when assembled, create a truncated pyramid with an octagonal base.

Wooden dome at the Telouet Kasbari. The proportions of the eight panels that, when assembled, create a truncated pyramid with an octagonal base.


This text has been taken from the book Arabesques – decorative art in Morocco by Jean-Marc Caste´ra; Franc¸oise Peuriot; Philippe Ploquin; Kirk McElhearn. Translation from French to English was carried out by Kirk McElhearn.


  • zelij
  • ZELLIJ
  • motif islam
  • mughal art motifs

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