The Mathematical Art of Repeating Patterns

Tessellation Art

A wall tiling at the Alhambra, in Granada, Spain. (Photograph: Wikimedia Commons, (CC BY-SA 3.))

From patterned wallpaper to ornamental mosaics, tessellations can be located all all around us. The mathematical artwork of creating repeating styles dates back again to 4000 BCE when the Sumerians employed clay tiles to enhance their residences and temples. Considering the fact that then, just about each other civilization all through heritage adopted working with tessellations in both of those art and architecture.

Examine on to learn the record of tessellations and how the advanced principle is still applied nowadays.


What is a tessellation?

A tessellation is when a geometric condition (or tile) repeats itself more than and over all over again, masking a 2D or 3D floor devoid of any gaps or overlaps. There are unique variations of tessellations based on the designs utilized.

The term “tessellation” comes from the Latin term tessera that means a small, tile-like stone. Tessera was employed to make tessellata, this means mosaics and tilings that adorn historical Roman structures.


Styles of Tessellations

Tessellation Art

An instance of semi-normal tessellation (Picture: Wikimedia Commons, (CC BY-SA 3.))

There are numerous types of tessellations, all of which can be categorised as these that repeat, are non-periodic, quasi-periodic, and all those that are fractals. The most popular configurations are normal tessellations and semi-normal tessellations.

Normal periodic tiling includes building a repeating sample from polygonal designs, each individual 1 meeting vertex to vertex (the place of intersection of 3 or much more bordering tiles). A checkerboard is the most basic case in point of this: It contains square tiles in two contrasting shades (generally black and white) that could repeat permanently.

Semi-common tessellations happen when two or extra sorts of regular polygons are arranged in a way that each vertex point is similar. Just about every vertex is surrounded by the same polygons organized in the exact same recurring order. (See the illustration above.)

Now that we have covered the standard math of tessellations, study on to master about how they were being made use of throughout heritage.


Tessellations in Historical Islamic Artwork and Architecture

Tessellation Art

Ceramic tile tessellations in Marrakech, Morocco (Photograph: Wikimedia Commons, (CC BY-SA 3.))

Though the Sumerians of 5th and 6th BCE applied tiles to beautify their properties and temples, other civilizations all around the planet adapted tessellations to in shape their tradition and traditions the Egyptians, Persians, Romans, Greeks, Arabs, Japanese, Chinese, and the Moors all embraced repeating styles in their attractive arts.

Most likely the most celebrated style of tessellations can be uncovered in Islamic art and architecture. Religious Islamic artwork is usually characterized by the absence of figures and other living beings. This is for the reason that many Muslims feel that the generation of living forms is exclusively God’s performing. Thus, they embraced the abstract features of tessellation and made use of colorful geometric tiles to produce non-representational designs.

1 of the most well-known examples of Islamic tessellation artwork is in the Alhambra, a massive palace situated in Granada, Spain. It was manufactured by the Muslim Moors in the 14th century and turned the royal residence and court docket of Mohammed ibn Yusuf Ben Nasr. Within the fortress, walls are adorned with numerous coloured tiles in geometric formations.

In Islam, employing tessellations to enhance surfaces and is termed zillij. This fashion of mosaic tilework is made from independently hand-chiseled items set into a plaster foundation. You can continue to uncover zillij installations in Morocco and other predominantly Islamic nations around the world, on the partitions and flooring of mosques, houses, general public squares, and tombs.

Tessellation Art

Tile operate in Morocco Pavilion in Environment Showcase at EPCOT Centre. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, (CC BY 2.))


Tessellation in Art Background

When we assess the methodical theories of math and science to the cost-free-wondering system of creating artwork, it is uncomplicated to ignore that the three disciplines are often intertwined. Quite a few artists have targeted on creating artwork that follows sure mathematical procedures.


M. C. Escher: The Father of Fashionable Tessellations

The mathematical concept of tessellations also experienced an influence on the art globe. Probably the most well-known artist to use geometric grids in his do the job is M. C. Escher. Also referred to as the “father of fashionable tessellations,” the Dutch artist developed irregular, interlocking tiles, formed like animals and other natural objects.

Inspite of not possessing formal mathematical instruction, Escher experienced an eye for precision and a pure being familiar with of geometry. With his woodcut prints, lithographs, mezzotints, and drawings, he merely needed to accomplish harmony, harmony, and perfection. He was once quoted declaring, “Order is repetition of units. Chaos is multiplicity with out rhythm.”

Even though Escher’s operate is generally related with the Op Artwork motion, other artists made use of mathematical tessellations in a more practical, ornamental way.


The Patterns of Koloman Moser


“Die Reciproken Tänzerinnen” (The Reciprocal Dancers) lithograph by Koloman Moser, 1901 (Photograph: Wikimedia Commons, public domain)

Austrian artist Koloman Moser is acknowledged for his Artwork Nouveau-design and style designs that abide by the rules of tessellation. His influential, elaborate designs—often showcasing nature motifs and geometric shapes—were utilized as textiles for vogue and interiors, wallpaper, posters, furnishings, jewelry, and even postage stamps.

Along with Gustav Klimt, Moser was one particular of the founders of The Vienna Secession. The ahead-considering motion was a counter to the conservative creative establishments in the Austrian funds at the stop of the 19th century. The artists promoted a up to date technique to art, and just about every made their personal variations that are nonetheless commonly celebrated now.


In this article are some illustrations of how contemporary artists are employing tessellations in their art.


Paper sculptures by Matthew Chilean


Surreal Tessellation Landscape Drawings by Tim Stokes


Hand-Printed Patterns by JeongSu


Paper Tessellations by Ekaterina Lukasheva out?v=LSYdSbfvjKE

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