This Seljuk period door dates from 13th-century Anatolia and stands as a possible example of a use of numeric values to communicate a message. The door’s design is based on a close-packing arrangement of circles within a pentagon. The two primary numbers featured are “5” and 10″ – a number combination that occurs frequently in Islam but in this case the door was to a dancing hall for the whirling dervishes. Through the ABJAD system the numbers seem to describe the dance: (i) 10-5 Astronomy, cry for calling camels for water. To prepare, to arrange, thing agreed upon. (ii) 50-5-10 To loose the mind. Receive a blessing, on the right side, the right hand. (iii) 100-5 Cry to excite horses, they thronged at the water. Three stars in Orion, fifth mansion of the moon. (iv) 5-100 Top of the head. Summit of the body. Translation: Edward Lane’s 1876 root dictionary. The dervishes rotate like the stars in the night sky. Their right hand faces upwards and their left faces down. They wear tall hats enhancing the summit of their bodies…
Using close-packing circles to create surface designs, during the early years of Islam, requires a method to generate different close-packing circle arrangements. The dynamic sphere geometry provides such a method. Applying the geometry, starting with a 5-circle arrangement within the unit triangle of a square, generates many arrangements including the arrangement (8th in the sequence) that was used to create the window design of the 1356CE Madrasa of Amir Salf al-din Sargatmish in Old Cairo, Egypt. Basically the method requires algorithmic steps where circle sizes and positions are changed in a step-by-step fashion. Once one understands the dynamics of the geometry then looking at the Madrasa window in old Cairo becomes a dynamic experience that couples with the numerology of the window itself, for example, 5, 6 and 7 (سنع; نزخ; نوذ) – a repository, a place of wealth. Connecting circle contact and center points with rosettes and straight lines will create surface designs or lattices of which some will have been used in the past.
The animation below shows the Arabian “close-packing” circle method that was used to create the window design of the 1356CE Madrasa of Amir Salf al-din Sargatmish in Old Cairo, Egypt. The design method dates back to the Abbasid period – a time of great creativity. The development starts with (i) a photo of the actual window and then follows with line drawings (ii) a line drawing of the window (iii) the rosette design (iv) the close-packing circle construction with the rosette development (v) the close-packing circle construction with circle centers connected (vi) the close-packing circle construction and tangent polygons with internal radii. Where the lattices of the last two drawings are “Altair Designs,” and both function as “perceptual lattices.”
An example of the Ray Method – one of the six primary methods used to create Arabian designs during the early Islamic period – during the Abbasid Caliphate 566-653CE. In the animation one arm of a “10-Ray” is used to position a “6-Ray” – then on the intersection of one of the arms of the 10-Ray and the 6-Ray a “9-Ray” approximately fits. The method was used to generate designs based on number sequences that corresponded to letters and words using the ABJAD system – in this case the numbers 10, 6 and 9. See my paper on the subject, “Six Arabian Geometries” also the “Early Islam” chapter in my new book to be published by Thames and Hudson in April 2018, “3D Thinking in Design and Architecture from Antiquity to the Future.”