Islamic Geometry: A Rosette Tile from The Alhambra

A friend recently shared a picture with me from a visit they made to The Alhambra in Granada, Spain, a few years ago.

After playing with it for a few hours, I fell in love with this deceptively-simple rosette.

  1. Begin with a four-fold foundation.

2. Add two diagonal bisectors through the corners of the petals.

3. Draw two squares inside the mother circle. The north-south and east-west lines serve as the corners for the dynamic square and the diagonal bisectors serve as the corners for the static square.

4. Draw a smaller circler inside your mother circle. Change the radius of your compass to the length from the corner of one square to the point that the squares intersect (green). Place your compass at the center of the mother circle and draw.

5. Circle each point where the smaller circle intersects with the bisectors. Number these points like a clock – if a clock only have 8 hours.

6. Draw a star using one continuous line that goes from from 1-4-7-2-5-8-3-6-1.

7. Extend the lines that make the points of the stars so that they touch the square.

8. Finish. Trace the star and the arrow shapes that touch each point of the star.

Alternatively, you may see four bowtie shapes that make up the pattern.


This pattern doesn’t produce a very interesting tessellation, but it can be base for some really stunning pathwork. Later this week, I’ll show you how to weave the pattern and add dimension.

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