Drawing on Light: The Craft of Geometric Pattern Windows

Prevalent Islamic geometric patterns, namely girih, found their way into the craft of window-making in the Safavid period from the 17th- century onward. Numerous contemporary reports verify the popularity of sophisticated geometric pattern windows through the Qajar period. Once drafted on scrolls, these patterns were translated into wooden bars and muntins and then ornamented using colored glass, making a multi-layered crafted ornament. This practice became one the most tangible uses of practical geometry in late pre-modern Persia.

This paper examines foundations of the use of geometric pattern in window screens across the central and western Persian plateau, and particularly concentrates on orosi, a specific typology of girih window that embraced the highest levels of ornamentation. The paper critically examines the use of geometric patterns along with then-emergent vegetal patterns in the configuration of orosi window in conceptual and concrete terms. This paper examines the motifs of vegetal patterns in regards to elements of Persian gardens.
The paper also articulates the relationship between theory and practice in regards to girih pattern. comparing the processes of conceiving a girih aperture and the actual construction of the window, this paper will highlight similarities and differences in stages of the making of geometric patterns through various mediums, drawing and making.

This presentation will also discuss the perception of this colored geometric pattern in its original cultural context. The projected lit geometry in the interior space and the simultaneous experience of the abstract and naturalistic geometries of the window and the garden expands the discussion of geometric patterns to the entirety of the edifice and landscape, including light. This multi-layered approach in comprehending practical and perceptual tools in micro and macro scales highlights complexities in the craftsmanship of geometric pattern windows