Islamic Geometry: A Six-Fold “Snowflake”

This week, we’re tackling a six-fold star patterns that shows up in Islamic monuments across the world, from the 9th century Mosque of Ibn Tulun in Egypt to the 15th century Shakh-i-Zindeh complex in Uzbekistan and the Eski Mosque in Turkey.

Left to Right: Eski Mosque, Mosque of Ibn Tulun, Shakh-i-Zindeh complex
  1. Begin with a six-fold foundation.

2. Draw three lines through the six large petals outside the mother circle. You will end up with one vertical and two diagonal mirror lines.

3. Finding the points where the mirror lines intersect with the mother circle, draw a dynamic hexagon. A dynamic hexagon is balanced on one of the points and looks like it might topple over at any minute.

4. Use the points of the dynamic hexagon to draw a regular six-pointed star. You can think of this as two overlapping triangles, one pointing up and one pointing down. You could also think of this as connecting every other point of the hexagon.

5. Locate the points where the mirror lines that you drew in step 2 intersect with the lines you just drew to form the star.

6. Use these points to draw another regular six-pointed star, extending the lines all the way to the dynamic hexagon that you drew in step 3.

7. Your construction lines are now finished! Grab a darker pencil and outline the outside of the star you drew in step 4.

8. Using the darker pencil, outline the outside of the star you drew in step 6, again extending the lines to the dynamic hexagon.

You can now use your final pattern to tesselate or add pathways.
Rather color than construct? Download and print any of the coloring pages below.
Left to right: woven star, tessellated stars, inset shapes

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