Math Monday: Temari balls

Craft & Design Science
Math Monday: Temari balls

By George Hart for the Museum of Mathematics


Temari balls are a traditional Japanese craft in which colored thread is applied to a sphere in a geometric pattern. This is a modern example, given to me by the Japanese master Kiyoko Urata.


There has been a repopularization of temari recently by people such as Carolyn Yackel at Mercer University, who teaches and writes about their underlying mathematics. Below is an example of her work with thirty rectangles centered on the two-fold rotation points of the icosahedral symmetry group.


See all of George Hart’s Math Monday columns

2 thoughts on “Math Monday: Temari balls

  1. R Armstrong says:

    Finally in my late 30’s I am learning the geometry that I never understood at school. I was a fully fledged mathematical dunce… the magic of temari making.

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at

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