Decorative Border Category

A meander or meandros (Greek: ) is a decorative border constructed from a continuous line, shaped into a repeated motif. Such a design is also called the Greek fret or Greek key design, although these are modern designations. On the one hand, the name 'meander' recalls the twisting and turning path of the Maeander River in Asia Minor, and on the other hand, as Karl Kerenyi pointed out, 'the meander is the figure of a labyrinth in linear form'. Among some Italians, these patterns are known as Greek Lines. Usually the term is used for motifs with straight lines and right angles, the many versions with rounded shapes are called running scrolls. Meanders are common decorative elements in Greek and Roman art. In ancient Greece they appear in many architectural friezes, and in bands on the pottery of ancient Greece from the Geometric Period onwards. The design is common to the present-day in classicizing architecture. The meander is a fundamental design motif in regions far from a Hellenic orbit: labyrinthine meanders ('thunder' pattern) appear in bands and as infill on Shang bronzes, and many traditional buildings in and around China still bear geometric designs almost identical to meanders. There is a possibility that meanders of Greek origin may have come to China during the time of the Han Dynasty by way of trade with the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, but space-filling curves have a long history in the region, extending back to Zhukaigou Culture and Xiajiadian Culture motifs over 2, 000 years earlier.

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