MUQARNAS: A three-dimensional form whose visual function is to provide the gradual transtion between two levels, two sizes, and or two shapes.
Level Transition Size Transition Shape Transition

Muqarnas consists of orderly horizontal "LAYERS" of small "UNIT-SURFACES," the layers are stacked one on top of another, connected via their base- and top- "LAYER-LINES". The base layer-lines of a layer and the top layer-lines of the layer below are either identical or separated by "LAYER-JOINTS". Any horizontal gaps in-between layer-lines of same height (like stars) are filled by "ROOF-PATCHES."
Two rules are observed:
  1. ROOF-PATCHES, UNIT-SURFACES, and LAYERS are created according to a 2DPP (two-dimensional-pattern-plan) with clearly defined boundaries.
  2. The total area surrounded by the base "LAYER-LINES" of a "LAYER" is either smaller or bigger than that surrounded by its top "LAYER-LINES", but in a single muqarnas form, this relation is constant for all of its tiers (that is the reason why layer-lines never intersect).

2DPP: A two-dimensional geometrical pattern that divides an area clearly defined by certain boundaries (which are the projections of muqarnas boundaries) into many connected compartments without leaving any gaps in-between, it follows a certain order. Back to Definition

UNIT-SURFACE:A three-dimensional surface; represented in plan either by a single line or a compartment (or part of a compartment) of the 2DPP; it could be either flat, or with a curvature. Each of its base- and top-edges can be either a horizontal line, or a point. Its side edges, that join the top and base end-points, can be straight or curved lines of vertical planes. It could be composed of many erecting units (the units actually used to erect muqarnas), be one itself, or be only a part of an erecting unit.
  1. Unit-Surfaces with an edge-base and a point-top. ["ETP" (edge to point)].
  2. Unit-Surfaces with a point-base and an edge-top. ["PTE" (point to edge)].
  3. Unit-Surfaces with an edge-base and an edge-top. ["ETE" (edge to edge)]. Back to Definition

ROOF PATCH:A surface whose edges are of the same elevation, mostly flat but there are cases where it has some roundness, it represents one compartment of the 2DPP. Back to Definition

LAYER:One or many groups of UNIT-SURFACEs with equal elevations of bases and tops; connected via their side edges continuously (closed) or with interruptions (open); the continuous parts of its base(s) and top(s) compose horizontal poly-lines called layer-lines that correspond to the two-dimensional pattern, and by themselves are orderly arranged. Back to Definition

LAYER-LINE: LAYER-LINE:A horizontal poly-line composing the base or top of the LAYER or part of it. In plan LAYER-LINEs may touch each other at certain points, may compose island-like shapes, but different layer lines never intersect. Back to Definition

LAYER-JOINT: A group (or groups in case of open layers) of vertical planes of equal heights, or of horizontal strips connecting (or separating) the base layer-line of a tier and the top layer-line of the one below. Back to Definition

© Yaghan 2001-5 - A part of Dr. Yaghan's online course on Muqarnas