The Planar Space Groups of Mamluk Patterns

B. Lynn Bodner
Proceedings of Bridges 2014: Mathematics, Music, Art, Architecture, Culture (2014)
Pages 35–42 Regular Papers


In the region extending from Arabia to Southern Anatolia, elaborate geometric tilings and patterns still cover the walls, floors and ceilings of extant monuments from the Mamluk period (1250 – 1517). These planar Islamic patterns may be classified as belonging to the various two-dimensional space groups based on the distance-preserving transformations or isometries of the plane (translations, rotations, reflections and glide-reflections) that they possess. Classifying the ornamental patterns of these Mamluk monuments allows us to determine which symmetries were preferred and intuitively recognized as being “right” by the Mamluk culture. This paper will discuss and illustrate examples of the different wallpaper groups represented in the Mamluk art found in present day Egypt and Syria.