Posted by: Khepera | Wednesday, 7 April 2010

African Fractals

This post is to share — and hopefully initiate a discussion of — the topic of African fractals.  This is not a new topic, for many of us, but it is one worthy of further study.  There are several resources available for further info, including an earlier post, African Mathematics. Fractals are an important development because it is one significant way in which we mathematically engage the modeling of nature.  Fractals are also important in the context of the synthesis of geometry and number theory, which is an area where Robert L. Powell, a mentor of mine, has been doing extensive research for years. Those of you who were part of my listserve — earlier iterations of the Electronic Drum — may remember me sending out an article in ’99 “Geometric Fractals and African Hair Design,” by Bianca P. Floyd, which is an additional resource.

One of the key areas of discussion of fractals is their use in the cultural idoms — from architecture and settlement planning to basket weaving — of Africa long before europe to ships, spreading the virus of conquest across the planet.  Please note that unlike most of my other posts, this is an evolving piece, and will be added to &/or amended as the discussion evolves.  To start, I will share the following videos from Ron Eglash, the author of African Fractals.

African fractals, in buildings and braids


African fractals, Part 2


  1. Jamal,

    Good to know that you are well and back at the digital scripting.

    Fractals were a key piece of African cosmology and how they harmonized with their environment, which just happen to be a reflection of how early African stayed in tune with the rhythms of the universe. Eglash, whom I’ve had a number of communications with, confirms this notion of a deeper relationship between “African Fractals” and the known universe. These African societies simply saw themselves as an integral part of the universe, or the natural order of things, which was a source of their ontological reality and power. Other inferences can be made from these fractals, including knowledge of chaos theory, mathematics, architecture, quantum physics, etc. Ultimately, these African understood how to co-exist in the natural word without elevating it to some higher esoteric level of knowing.

    I would love to continue the discussion.

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