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Fractal Art
A fractal is a geometric shape that can be divided into pieces in a way that each piece is a reduced copy of the whole. The concept of “fractal” is quite new but fractal shapes have been used by different cultures for centuries, mostly because fractal shapes are common in nature and have an “organic” beauty that other forms don’t have.
Beautiful images of fractals are very popular as computer desktop backgrounds and  screensavers and there is software to generate them.
While here in the west it is common to use classic geometric shapes -rectangles, squares, circles-  and simple straight lines in architecture and art, other more ancient cultures have used fractal shapes in building and decoration. Probably they felt more connected to nature and reflected that in their creations, that compared to ours look more dynamic, fluid and in sync with the environment.
African people have an extensive use of fractal shapes and they can be observed from how they build and organize their houses to art and decoration. In Ethiopia, you can see them in their Ethiopian crosses and also in the Lalibela churches (three iteration fractal):

Ethiopian cross

Lalibela church

But what does a cornrow style have in common with fractals?
Turns out that the same principle of construction based in a fractal shape can be applied to designing a braided hairstyle. African people have been using fractals to create beautiful and intricate hairstyles for a long time, braiding patiently iterations of a same form.
Dr. Ron Eglash have been studying African fractals for a long time and documented fractal patterns in cornrow hairstyles, weavings, and the architecture of villages, as well as many forms of African art. He then developed the software Cornrow Curves, to teach students transformational geometry and iteration while they create simulated cornrow designs on the computer. This creation was specially useful to motivate African American students to learn mathematics since they can now connect popular culture that reflects their heritage with science. The software is free, easy and fun to use and it has a short tutorial. In no time you can create a design and at the same time learn the principle behind fractals by “weaving” a virtual cornrow.

Cornrow Curves Software

Now you know that every time you make a cornrow, you are weaving at the same time a fractal since every braid is a fractal in itself, a repetition of a pattern over and over again.

Cornrows - Institute of Fine Braidery Arts

You can watch this TED video of Ron Eglash explaining African fractals or read his wonderful book:

Links:
New Tools Spark Student Interest, Achievement in Mathematics
Ron Eglash web page
Cornrow Curves website

African Fractals Africa Counts

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