Technicals – The basics – Build the Eight Pointed Star

The basic Eight pointed Star is ubiquitous in many of Islamic or specifically Geometric Art. It is usually the central ‘piece’, so to say, of one design and blooms radially outwards it.

A Moroccan Zillij example of a design inspired by the eight point star

The star design does not originate from the Muslim Civilization ; in fact, such design are found around the world, whether in religion or culture. Historically, the design had been used as a seal some 4000 years ago in the Ancient city of Ur, the fact discovered by one nobleman from Italy named Pietro della Valle in the middle of the seventeenth century. Excavations on that particular site reveals that the motif had been used since as a design for jewelery or decorations. Back then, the Sumerians regarded the motif as the representation of Inanna, and the representation of Ishtar for the Akkadians – the goddess of fertility, love and war.

A version of the  Star of Ishtar and Inanna

In Islam, it is known as the Khatim or Khatim Sulaiman, the Seal or the Seal of the prophet (Solomon). It was likely to be inspired by the six pointed star – The seal of Solomon.

The design is made by overlapping two squares in different angles with each other. However, this could always make the star unbalanced i.e one corner is larger than the other.

To make the design actually balanced and mathematically correct, one should use the octagon, and build the star, the octagon as the centerpiece.

We will go through this step by step.

1. Build the Octagon.

To build the Octagon, you must build it from eight lines, each have the same length. as the figure shows –

Octagon with equal lines

Build the octagon by drawing one line, say, 5cm. Draw another on the sides, with equal length. To assist you with drawing the rest of the octagon, draw guide lines from what you have drawn, as such –

Octagon with the blue lines as guides.

When you draw the lines, then it will be easier for you to do the next step.

2. Draw the outer triangles.

With the guidelines, extend the lines to outside of the octagons. Then draw the lines to make triangles outside the Octagon. Make sure the lines you draw are of equal length.

The outer triangles, partially made.

Use the octagon lines to help guide you make straight lines to form the triangles. If you need more accuracy drawing the triangles, you can draw more guidelines that runs through the central octagons, though it is not necessary since the octagon lines will guide you easily. Finish the star by drawing all the triangles.

The finished triangle with guidelines – cyan fro the octagonal guide, dark blue for the triangles and light green for the centering of the triangles.

3. Finishing the star

When you are finished, erase all your guidelines, and you should end up with the eight pointed star with accurate dimensions.

The finished star with all the guidelines eliminated.

We will look into this design later on and discuss how can we extend the design into a more complicated pattern.


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