Gold Pendant

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Pattern – Flora and fauna Teacher Notes

Gold pendant
Painted tiles
Vase with faces
Cotton textile with snakes

Gold Pendant

Anglo Saxon, late 6th – early 7th Century AD
From grave 8, Wingham, Kent, England

Discussion questions

  • Can you break this pendant down into simple shapes and patterns?

  • How many snakes can you see?

  • Why do you think snakes were used in patterns? (for their symbolic value or shape or both?)

  • What kinds of symmetry does this pendant have?

  • Explore other Anglo-Saxon gold objects in Explore by typing ‘Anglo Saxon AND gold’ into the Search box ( and see what similarities you can see between their patterns.

Project ideas

  • Use the Anglo-Saxon belt (in Explore) and trace the different snake designs with a crayon.

  • Design and make your own Anglo Saxon brooch or pendant.

  • Cut circle in card (of any size – but not much bigger than 15 cm diameter). Sketch a border and central pattern - emphasise that for it to be a pattern, it must have repeated elements, eg. symmetry

  • Make a border using found materials (eg.beads/beans/rice/pasta) and stick on with PVA.

  • In the centre, using string dipped in PVA and wind into the pattern.

  • Leave it to dry overnight, then paint with metallic paints or pens.

Painted tiles

Ottoman, about AD 1550
From Iznik, modern Turkey

Discussion ideas and questions

  • Can you identify the different types of flowers and plants which are used in these tiles?

  • How is each colour used? Compare the tiles with the other Iznik objects underneath and find similarities and differences in the use of colour in each pattern.

  • Research different patterned tiles used today in kitchens and bathrooms, study how the pattern repeats.

  • What kinds of symmetry do these tiles have?

Project ideas

  • Using observational drawing as a starting point, look at flowers and foliage.

  • These drawings can be used as the basis for a tile design:

  • Select and overlap interesting designs using tracing paper from the original drawings and transfer them to a drawn out tile.

  • Using translation, reflection and rotation create a set of four tiles that meet in the middle, as in the Iznik tiles.

  • Colour your pattern using traditional Iznik colours [white background, dark green, dark red and dark blue foliage]

Vase with Faces

Nasca Culture (200 BC-AD 600), Peru

Discussion questions

  • Identify the different repeated patterns

  • What features are missing from the face pattern?

  • Can you think of any other places where faces are used as a repeating pattern?

Practical activities

Simple practical project – paper concertina faces

  • Cut an A4 sheet in 4 strips lengthways. Give each pupil a strip.

  • Fold the paper into a concertina 7 times (about 3.5 cm). This is the profile of your face. Cutting perpendicular to the long edge, cut a line across the middle for the nose, and a longer one ¾ of the way down for the mouth.

  • For the eyes, fold the paper lengthways one more time and cut half ovals towards the top of the lengthways fold.

  • Open out your concertina and you should see 4 simple faces which can be coloured and placed around a bottle/cup/flowerpot.

Extension - self portrait project

  • Collect images of yourself - photos, drawings etc.

  • Design a simple motif of yourself, focusing on your important facial features.

  • Design and make your own pot. Use a cardboard roll as a template to make a cylinder of clay.

  • Decorate the clay with coloured slips and wrap your images around the pot. You could also use acrylic paint.

Extension activity

Find out about the Nasca lines – triangles, spirals and animal figures on the Nasca plain between the Nasca and the Ingenio rivers.

Cotton textile with snakes

Chancay, Peru
AD 900-1400

Discussion questions

  • How many different snakes can you see in the textile? How are they used?

  • Can you work out how the two snakes fit together in the main motif?

  • What do snakes represent in other cultures?

Practical activity

  • Snake shapes are fantastic for creating patterns – pupils can design their own snake template which can be drawn round and repeated.

  • Enlarge the snake motif on a photocopier. Colour each snake separately (maybe using patterns), then carefully cut out each snake in turn. What shape/s are left behind? How does this pattern work so successfully? Experiment with fitting the snakes together in different ways.

  • The snakes can be used to make 3D mobiles by hanging from the tail or mouth (the back also needs to be coloured in to do this).

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