September 9, 2010

Octagons and Squares

Combinations of regular octagons and squares are often a feature of Indo-Islamic design. Such tilings appear in a variety of settings, particularly grills or screens fashioned from metal or cut out of marble or sandstone.

This doorway (above) at Golconda Fort in Hyderabad is protected by a wire grill with a distinctive pattern of overlapping octagons (below), constructed from squares and elongated hexagons.

A variant (below) of this design, with stretched octagons and rectangles, can be seen at the Red Fort in Agra.

Octagons and squares are also an important feature of the Taj Mahal and associated structures.

A structure near the Taj Mahal in Agra features an alternative combination of octagons and squares (above). Note that the interior of each octagon consists of four squares and eight pentagons.

The Taj Mahal itself (above) is essentially a square with cut-off corners to create an octagonal cross section with alternating long and short sides. The inner tomb chamber is a regular octagon.

Two overlapping squares create an eight-pointed star.

The same eight-pointed star can be seen in the Taj Mahal's gardens, surrounding by a pathway tiled with overlapping octagons made from squares and hexagons.

Amer Fort in Jaipur has a pool in the shape of an eight-pointed star, surrounding an octagonal island.

A complex octagonal design (above) carved out of red sandstone at Fatehpur Sikri.

A floor tiling combines regular octagons with octagons having alternating long and short sides.

In North America, we are used to seeing octagons in the guise of stop signs. Curiously, in India, stop signs are usually circular.

A circular stop sign in Udaipur, India.

Photos by I. Peterson

1 comment:

Christine said...

Very interesting! I'm sure there's some symbolism involved (for example, the square is essentially an earth symbol, I think).