Symmetries of Culture: Theory and Practice of Plane Pattern Analysis

Dorothy Koster Washburn, Author University of Washington Press $0 (299p) ISBN 978-0-295-96586-4
Art historians have long been aware of recurring symmetrical patterns of form and color in ancient, tribal, folk and applied arts. Lately, anthropologists have begun using ``symmetry anal y sis'' as a tool to explain how art works reflect patterns of human behavior and basic valuesboth within one culture and among far-flung peoples. This richly illustrated study brings to light dozens of intriguing examples of symmetrical designs, for instance, in a Zulu loincloth, a Japanese chopstick case, a New England quilt, a Tibetan ``Plaque of a Thousand Lamas,'' a Hawaii water gourd. The same pattern found in a fantastical drawing of lizards by M. C. Escher is echoed in a Fiji basket lid and an Egyptian wall mosaicbut what these similarities signify, if anything, is beyond the scope of this highy technical volume. Washburn, a University of Rochester an thro poloigist, and Crowe, a mathematician at the University of Wisconsin, outline a mathematically based classification system for specialists. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
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