Fractals in Thai Cultural Designs

Wipasinee Sirintronsopon, Tanaorn Bamroongshawgasame, Artur Gorka, "Fractals in Thai Cultural Designs", Proceedings of International School Conference,16th Kolmogorov Readings at Kolmogorov School. [pdf]


A fractal is a geometric shape displaying a never-ending pattern of high complexity with the property of selfsimilarity at many levels, and one that is generated by iterations of simple equations or figures. Fractals started to be studied to describe chaos by using equations and graphs just a few decades ago but quickly sprung out of classrooms to everyday life and became a fashionable object on its own used in pop culture, graphics, and arts. Many fractals include repetition of a triangular- or rectangular- or some other geometric shape. In this paper we try to showcase the beauty of traditional Thai Cultural  designs and point out their fractal-like structure that can be found in typical Thai designs hundreds of years old, a long before even the word “fractal” was defined. We look at many examples of temples, pagodas, stupas, tiered umbrellas, shrines, sculptures, paintings, ornaments etc., explain the patterns of those designs and identify a few types of fractals commonly found in those places. We classify them and describe their shapes, level of self-similarity, and complexity. Some of these designs have been defined mathematically by finding a generator for a simple iterative process.

Keywords: Fractals, Thai culture, Design