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Lotus  

Eva Wilson

Term for two distinct decorative motifs based on types of water-lily; one originated in Egypt, the other in India. Lotus motifs in Egypt occur from the beginning of the Dynastic period c. 3000 bc in two stylized forms. The curved outline of the flower-head distinguishes the motif based on the white-flowered Nymphaea lotus from the more triangular outline of the motif based on the blue-flowered Nymphaea caerulea (see fig. (a)). Representations on the walls of tombs and temples suggest that lotus flowers were much in evidence in daily life, and the motif decorates jewellery and many domestic objects. In the tomb of Tutankhamun (reg c. 1332–c. 1323 bc), for example, the bowl of an alabaster cup represents an open white lotus, while the handles have the form of the blue lotus flower and two buds; a necklace has lotus motifs on both pendant and lock; and the pointed lotus petals form decorative borders on many objects (all Cairo, Egyp. Mus.). Lotus flowers and buds are among other plantlike capitals on stone pillars in funerary monuments and temples (see Borchardt, figs 9–11). The lotus also had some ritual significance: the flowers of water-lilies close at night and open at sunrise, a feature that came to symbolize a resurgence of life and the sun itself and became associated with the sun god Horus. The morning sun was pictured as rising from the lotus flower and settling back into the flower at night. When associated with Isis, the lotus became a fertility symbol....

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Morocco  

Article

Susan Roaf

[Arab. bādahanj, malqaf; Pers. bādgīr]

Traditional form of natural ventilation and air-conditioning built on houses throughout the Middle East from North Africa to Pakistan. Constructed at least since the 2nd millennium bc in Egypt, wind catchers have also been used to cool caravanserais, water cisterns and mosques. Consisting of an open vent built on the roof facing into or away from the prevailing wind, wind catchers have shafts carrying the air down through the roof into the living area below, thereby ventilating and cooling the spaces. Wind catchers are generally placed above the summer rooms of courtyard houses. On the Iranian plateau, where the finest wind catchers are built, the vents are in the tops of brick towers which capture the faster airstreams above the general roof level. When there is little air movement, as on summer afternoons, the wind catcher acts as a chimney, drawing warm air up the shaft and through the living areas from the courtyard. In coastal settlements, towers generally face onshore winds. Most inland towers also face prevailing winds but in some desert settlements in the Yazd region of central Iran, where the prevailing wind is hot and dusty, vents similarly face away from the wind, and the preferred air from the courtyard is drawn through the summer rooms. In Iraq and central Iran, wind catchers are important in moderating the climate of the deep basements used as summer living rooms. In the Gulf and in Sind (the lower Indus region) wind catchers serve ground- and first-floor summer rooms....