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Article
Patterns in Time and Space: Technologies of Transfer and the Cultural Transmission of Mathematical Knowledge across the Indian Ocean
Ars Orientalis (2004)
  • Carol Bier, The Textile Museum
Abstract
This article explores the potential role of textiles in the transfer of mathematical knowledge from the Indian subcontinent to the central Islamic lands and west-ward to an emerging modern Europe through an inquiry into prospective technologies of textile manufacture and pattern-making. Ikat textiles of the ninth and tenth centuries, found in Egypt but presumed to be from Yemen, serve as a means to explore possibilities of numeration and treatment of the spatial dimension. An initial attempt is made to separate patterning from the technology of textile production in an effort to treat the mathematical possibilities that patterning offers for the application of mathematical knowledge. This article proposes an ontology of pattern, distinct from the category of a textile itself, which raises significant questions pertaining to the transmission of mathematical knowledge in relation to expanded trade routes in the eighth through tenth centuries, coincident with Islamic developments in the understanding of two-dimensional space.
Keywords
  • Islamic,
  • textile,
  • cotton,
  • ikat,
  • Yemen,
  • Indian Ocean,
  • trade,
  • transmission of knowledge
Publication Date
2004
Citation Information
Carol Bier. "Patterns in Time and Space: Technologies of Transfer and the Cultural Transmission of Mathematical Knowledge across the Indian Ocean" Ars Orientalis Vol. 34 (2004)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/carol_bier/52/