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Patterns, mathematics and culture: The search for symmetry in Azorean sidewalks and traditional crafts
Ricardo Cunha Teixeira
In the hustle and bustle of daily life, how often do we stop to pay attention to the tiny details around us, some of them right beneath our feet? Such is the case of interesting decorative patterns that can be found in squares and sidewalks beautified by the traditional Portuguese pavement. Its most common colors are the black and the white of the basalt and the limestone used; the result is a large variety and richness in patterns.

No doubt, it is worth devoting some of our time enjoying the lovely Portuguese pavement, a true worldwide attraction. The interesting patterns found on the Azorean handicrafts are as fascinating and substantial from the cultural point of view.

Patterns existing in the sidewalks and crafts can be studied from the mathematical point of view, thus allowing a thorough and rigorous cataloguing of such heritage. The mathematical classification is based on the concept of symmetry, a unifying principle of geometry. Symmetry is a unique tool for helping us relate things that at first glance may appear to have no common ground at all.

By interlacing different fields of endeavor, the mathematical approach to sidewalks and crafts is particularly interesting, and an excellent source of inspiration for the development of highly motivated recreational activities. This text is an invitation to visit the nine islands of the Azores and to identify a wide range of patterns, namely rosettes and friezes, by getting to know different arts and crafts and sidewalks.
Portuguese pavement, traditional Azorean arts and crafts, symmetry groups, rosettes, friezes
Published: 2015/03/20
Author Details
Ricardo Cunha Teixeira
University of the Azores

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