Monday, August 2, 2010

Origins and Meanings of the Eight-Point Star

For fans of Islamic art (especially Moroccan zillij), here is an interesting article by Sarah Tricha on the eight-point star pattern, or Khatim.  You see this motif repeated throughout the art and architecture of the Islamic world.  The article has loads of interesting information about the origins and astrological associations with the pattern, which shows that its meaning has been both redefined (as is often done in contextualization), and possibly syncretised, over the centuries.

Oddly, the author neglects to discuss the traditional meaning of the symbol to Muslims.  

In any case, I found the information at the end of the article about the Breath of the Compassionate pattern to be fascinating in regards to contextualization, although the description was way too abstract and vague for me (but see a fuller description here, about halfway through the article). It did, however, make me wonder what it would look like if believers who were also zillij artisans were to create new patterns that somehow incorporated both biblical and complimentary koranic meanings, while at the same time honoring and infusing new life into a very traditional Moroccan art form. The symbolism behind these patterns, as well as those found on Moroccan pottery, is something I'd like to learn more about (no luck from the books I've purchased thus far).

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