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Dear listserv subscribers, I wish to know the history of the eight-pointed star in Islam, the star formed by two overlain squares, one rotated ninety degrees. I know that this pattern appears in early Umayyad architecture, but when was it first used, and was there a reason for its choice? I assumed it was an inherited pattern from Byzantium/ Persia, or another antique culture, but I can only find it in Byzantine design within the Islamic period, and the eight-pointed stars from other cultures are spiked and thus formed in another way. I could imagine one reason why it might have been adopted with, for example, the design of the Dome of the Rock, but this idea is unsupported by scholarship and probably incorrect. I understand that the Qibla in the early Islamic period faced Jerusalem, not Mecca: could the reorientation be expressed in the rotation of one form over another, one foundation on another (literally and metaphorically), forming another axis? I would welcome any guidance. Yours, Edward Bigden --