The Sona sand drawings are part of the oral tradition of the Tchokwe people of Angola. The drawings are both art and science, and hold many interesting mathematical properties.

The Sona are drawn over a grid of dots according to certain rules: Start in between any two dots at a 45 degree angle, and reflect when you get to the edge of the diagram. Here is the first Sona drawing we made. For more, see this Sona sand drawings web site!

<img src=/assets/misc/butterfly.jpg alt=”butterfly” width=”300” height=”229” />

We asked the questions:

  • How many paths does it take to fill the grid?
  • Does the outcome depend on where you started your paths?
  • Does the outcome depend on the dimensions of the grid?
  • What other patterns do you observe?

Handouts from the session