I present an initial look at mogharnas dome variation. It provided me with my first exploration into the unknown world of modern muqarnas design. Muqarnas is the Arabic, while mogharnas is Persian.

Mogharnas Dome Variation

Muqarnas Domes Offer Great Variation


The traditional central muqarnas dome is already an attractive shape. Its geometry is clearly defined. So are its constituent elements, the muqarnas blocks. The central dome can have a variety of symmetries. These in turn, determine the shape of more complex compositions. Of these more complex muqarnas arrangements, the first and most basic is the expansion of the central muqarnas dome itself.

Central Muqarnas Dome

Mogharnas Dome Variation

Primary Variations

I named the expanded sections of the central dome tiers. Initially, I discovered only two expansion motifs, ‘Ray’ and ‘Crescent’. These are pictured at the top of the page. The image displays each technique. Importantly, the bottom edge of each tier for each expansion motif is identical. This means that, if desired, more than one method can be used on the same dome.

Mogharnas dome variation provides an entry into the wealth of design opportunities of muqarnas.

Ray Motif

I developed the ‘Ray’ motif first. Here is an animation of it. It has four tiers. From a design perspective, it is unlikely that a dome would use more than three or four tiers. It would probably look too repetitious. However, more tiers would be an opportunity to use more expansion motifs.

Crescent Motif

The ‘Crescent’ expansion motif is the next I developed. Here is its animation. By having alternate layers curve in opposite directions the effect is more pleasing. It has three tiers. Note: the central dome is identical to the ‘Ray’ dome above.

Other Motifs

There is a large number of central dome expansion motifs for muqarnas. A mathematician could determine how many. However, I can point to the scope and breadth of variation with the image below. Each expansion method uses one of each of the sixteen unique muqarnas tiles.

A Few of the Possible Expansion Motif Variations

Mogharnas Dome Variation

I hope you have enjoyed this look at a small corner of muqarnas compositions. There are so many unique families of forms. Moreover, surprisingly complex compositions are possible. They are made from elements from very different shapes. I’ll study muqarnas for the rest of my life.

Mogharnas dome variation opened the wider field of muqarnas forms to me.

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