Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Search Challenge (7/1/15): What's the story with the star?

Sometime you wonder... 

What's the story behind this beautiful thing?  

I was recently down in Carmel, visiting the old Spanish Mission there.  It really is a beautiful place--the courtyard is full of flowers and thousands of hummingbirds. 

It's the kind of quiet, contemplative space that makes you wonder... 

And in my case, I started wondering about that prominent star-shaped window over the arched doorway.  It's pretty clearly a colonial-era Spanish design element, but I'm not sure I've seen it at any other of the Missions in California.  

Since this is a holiday weekend in the US, I'm going to post a fairly straightfoward Challenge for the week (although you can carry this question as far forward as you like--and as I'm sure Regular Readers will do).  

1.  What is the story with that unusual star over the doorway at Mission Carmel?  

2.  Does any other Californian Mission have a star window like that? 

3.  Where did that particular star shape come from?  Can you find any other examples of stars in this shape in architecture elsewhere in the world?  

Search on!  (And tell us HOW you found the answers!!  We want to learn your thought process so we can search as well as you do.) 


  1. Good day and new month, Dr. Russell and everyone!

    Very interesting and in principle straightforward. And, with many good findings already. I'll post it tomorrow because creating links is complicated on mobile.

    I wonder if the oak that read about is still in the Mission. I need to review the time line to check this and also when the star window was added.

    1. Good day, Dr. Russell, fellow SearchResearchers


      [star window carmel mission california]
      San Carlos Borroméo

      [star window carmel mission story]

      [star window carmel mission origin]

      A unique feature is the Moorish window, often called the "star window," over the entrance. It appears to be made from a combination of a circle and a square placed at an angle.

      In the entry of the church hang the insignia that the church has been declared a basilica, - the pavilion ( papal umbrella) and the “tintinabulum” (basilica bell)

      ["star window" San Carlos Borroméo carmel mission california origin]
      The replica has a Mudejar or star window said to have been copied from that at the Carmel Mission.

      [mudejar window california missions]

      Mission San Carlos Borromeo De Carmelo by By Kathleen J. Edgar, Susan E. Edgar

      Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo, Wikipedia

      ["star window" mudejar meaning]

      The old mission features the Mudejar Star window, an example of an architectural style once popular in Spain. Mudejares were Muslims who lived in Spain after the 1200’s.

      Mudéjar, Wikipedia Mudéjar also denotes a style of Iberian architecture and decoration, particularly of Aragon and Castile.Also, Moors or Muslims of Al-Andalus who remained in Iberia after the Christian Reconquista.

      Even the "star" window
      used in the drum over the crossing has some historical and artistic interest. It is said that when the Moors were employing their Christian subjects to carry out their archi-architectural ideas, the latter cleverly incorporated the form of the cross in the decoration whenever possible, so that when forced to look towards Mecca they would behold the cross. The window is seen to be designed upon the axis of a cross.

      [mudejar star window]


      1. What is the story with that unusual star over the doorway at Mission Carmel?

      2. Does any other Californian Mission have a star window like that?
      A. Yes, San Rafael Arcángel has one.

      3. Where did that particular star shape come from? Can you find any other examples of stars in this shape in architecture elsewhere in the world?

      A. Spain. Burgos Cathedral (Santa Maria), for example.

    2. you are on the hunt, Detective González ;)
      time works on all matter… and is complicated — even if viewed through a star window while wearing rose colored spectacles & renovating…
      our futures and our pasts are often not what we hope them to be.
      the star abides
      Junípero Serra & Sally Ride
      Junípero Serra
      Sally Ride
      some of Dr. Ride's books
      from Mallorca
      the NYT
      canonization of Junípero Serra on Sept. 23 2015?

      quatrefoil (ˈkætrəˌfɔɪl)
      is it all math?

    3. Mission is one of the historical landmarks in California No. 135 Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo

      Also saw Mission made with legos.

      Thanks for links, Remmij, I'll check them in minutes.

    4. thanks for the heads up on the doodle - had missed it… and had failed to look at the Doodles Archive so that was a good kick in the pants… the "This Doodle's Reach" segment is interesting.

      Dr. Tam O’Shaughnessy
      AoC/statuary hall collection
      Father Junipero
      wiki Hall list
      another take on the mix
      the latest - probably Pope deferred
      could this be a CA contender? SPJ
      or this version… for CA

    5. Good morning, Remmij. Thanks for the links.

      I am learning new and amazing facts, history, people and more. "Magic Stars" and Stars, wow, that is awesome!! About Wikimania, sounds good. I read it before but just the title. Thanks for sharing more information.

      Thanks for the Popé and Statuary hall collection details. I read and learned a lot. For example more about Kamehameha, Father Damien. And read this: "Currently Kansas has plans to replace John James Ingalls with Amelia Earhart"

      In "U.S. Capitol Historical Society ~ A Blog of History", all posts are very interesting. For example: "The Women of Statuary Hall."

      Then, [unknown facts Junipero Serra]
      16 Interesting Facts About Junipero Serra

      Thanks, Remmij!

  2. After perusing a few sites I noticed the words “moorish” and “star window” were repeated often.

    Query [moorish "the star window" architecture] Result Book Lands Never Trodden: The Franciscans and the California Missions By John J. O'Hagan

    Quotes “the star window has been the subject of endless speculation...Is it a star, compass or cross? theory is that it is none of these. Simply an ornate rectangle which was mistakenly set off by 45 degrees… this window now defines the mission.

    1. Had I continued reading the discussion in the book Lands Never Trodden I would have noticed that it mentions two other buildings that have the same window “The Star Window”

  3. 1. What is the story with that unusual star over the doorway at Mission Carmel?

    2. Does any other Californian Mission have a star window like that?

    3. Where did that particular star shape come from? Can you find any other examples of stars in this shape in architecture elsewhere in the world?

    CROP OUT THE STAR AND DRAG TO IMAGES SEARCH finds several good hits

    [mission star window] finds

    THe Examiner building in Los Angeles sports a star window reminiscent of Carrmel's

    Mission San Rafael Arcangel, second to last of the missions to be built, also does

    Following along in IMAGE I found this site

    It explains many arcane star references for Mormons.

    This link debunks all that

    This 8 pointed star has been used 10k times in the LDS San Diego temple.

    It can be seen in Ravenna, Quito and often found in Jerusalem.

    The last link mentions lots of supposed magical meanings ascribed to this rosette. It would seem to mean, if anything, whatever you feel like.


    jon who liked this one too. No smart alecky shark fans around today either.

    PS todays is Canada's birthday

  4. 1. What is the story with that unusual star over the doorway at Mission Carmel?

    Moorish window, often called the "star window”, was originally designed to be rectangular. The crooked star-shaped window above the entry is said to symbolize that only God is perfect.

    2. Does any other Californian Mission have a star window like that?

    The reconstructed Mission San Rafael Arcángel, but there's no evidence that suggests the original one had the star window.

    3. Where did that particular star shape come from? Can you find any other examples of stars in this shape in architecture elsewhere in the world?

    Moorish architecture is an architecture style of western part of North-Africa and the Iberian peninsula that began during the Islamisation of those regions.

    In Andalucia, Spain, Moorish star-shaped windows are often used on roofs to let in the light, especially in the Arab bathhouses.

    I used a combination of straight-up Google search, image search, and my own instinct to connect the dots. I also came across some variant star windows, but since you specified this particular star shape, I didn't include the other ones like the window above the entry of the Examiner Building in Los Angeles.


  5. The post is really a challenging one. The monuments may have some architectures that reveals the ancient cultures or symbol of their culture. The star symbol may have such a history behind, but it is a little bit challenging to find out. Hope our dissertation writers can able to find it.

  6. Anne and I are a little late to this search challenge but finally joining in! We started off doing a search for: - mission carmel star window - A few of the results had pictures and mentioned the star window but gave no further information. But the first result (which we skipped over, but then came back to after the next 4 results didn't give any information) led us to a site about the mission and it was here that we came across the term moorish window. We also found the site which gave a lot of background on the founding of the mission. While the articles didn't give background on the window armed with this new term we search for - moorish details spanish missions california - and while we didn't get more details on the windows we got more information on the founder of the mission Fr. Junípero Serra. Looked up Fr. Serra and he was born in Majorca which was heavily influenced by the moors. Searched islamic influence majorca to get more background.
    2) we did a search for star window mission and found the site which describes another mission - San Rafael Mission in San Rafael as having a star window.
    We searched "moorish star" window in Google books and found the book "Julia Morgan: Architect of Beauty". On pg. xvii the author, Mark Anthony Wilson says that St. James Presbyterian Church in San Francisco has Moorish star windows in the upper corners of the building which are reminiscent of the Carmel Mission and at the Federated Community Church in Saratoga, Ca. there is a moorish star motif beneath the bell tower. This is described on pg. 77 So while they aren't missions there are at least 2 other religious institutions in California with this motif.
    3) Will post separately.

  7. 3) The star window is an example of the Moorish star which is also known as an 8 pointed star. Did a search and found a nice description on the symbol site. Found out that in Arabic it is called rub el hisb so looked that up and found the wikipedia article. This article pointed out that the cross section of the Petronas Towers but there are additional circles to make more space. The Dome of the Rock employs the motif in decorations and also the floor plan is in the octagonal shape based on the 8 pointed star.

  8. What is so interesting about this challenge is that it seems on first glance to be a very simple challenge but the more you look into this the more interesting it becomes. There are so many different paths to go down. Enjoyed reading all of the responses.

    1. I agree with you, Debbie. Challenges always are full of surprises and knowledge.

      Thanks for the videos, Remmij.

    2. Good week, everyone!

      I read that this week is Shark week and
      National Aquarium will offer many things, including shark cam diver. Also, Dr. Russell share with us the amazing dental replacement of sharks. Sand tiger Shark can have as many as 30 000.

      Remmij topics:

      Hello Kitty movie in 2019

      Cats weapon against Mouses.