Roof – the Top Covering of a Building

Part of the building that limits it from the top and protects it against atmospheric conditions. It directly protects the ceilings or vaults of the highest storey, or is a direct covering of the interior. Thanks to its artistic values, such as the spatial value and colour, it largely shapes the entire body of the building.

The roof consists of a load-bearing structure and a covering (sheathing, roofing). The supporting structure in steep roofs consists of wooden carpentry trusses, i.e. a timber roof truss, steel and prefabricated, reinforced concrete trusses. In slightly sloping and horizontal roofs, the supporting structure consists of beams, trusses and plates. In the roofs with curved surfaces, the supporting structure was formerly a timber roof truss, and now reinforced concrete shells. Roofing is covered with tiles, shingles, slate, sheet metal, tar paper, straw, reed etc.

The upper surfaces of the roofing are called roof slopes, and the place of intersection of slopes – corners when they form an acute angle. On the other hand, when an obtuse angle is created, the places of intersection of the slopes are called roof valleys. The vertical plane limiting the roof slopes to the side is called the gable. The lower edge of the slope protruding beyond the face of the wall is called the eaves, and the upper edge, which is the line of intersection of the two slopes, parallel to the eaves, is called the ridge (peak, gable line).

Conical roof, Nanhai Academy in Taipei. National Taiwan Science Education Center Chinese style roof at the Nanhai Academy, Taipei City. Photo by Meiguoren~commonswiki (2011). CC0. Colours intensified. Photo source: “Roof” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

The eaves can rest on corbels, the ends of the beams, etc. Under the eaves, horizontal gutters and special funnels connected with vertical gutters to the sewage network are attached to drain the rainwater.

The attic is the space between the highest ceiling or vault of the building and the covering, filling the zone of the roof truss. The attic can be extended for residential purposes. The slope of the roof slopes depends on the climatic conditions and the type of covering.

Depending on the angle of inclination (slope) and shape, it is possible to distinguish the following roofs:

Flat (terraced-type) roofs, usually devoid of roof truss.

Sloped roofs (high, steep) with a clear slope. The sloping roof can be single-slope roof (mono-pitched, pent), gable roof (two-slope, saddleback) or multi-pitched (multi-slope).

The variants of gable and hipped roofs are: a half-hipped roof, which has got a gable with pediments, that is to say, small triangular slopes cutting the gables from the top. By these means, the gable is replaced here at the top and bottom of the roof by roof slopes, as in the case of the Black Forest house (German: Schwarzwaldhaus). There is also a gablet roof or dutch gable roof, hipped with half-gables or abutments. “A hybrid of hipped and gable with the gable (wall) at the top and hipped lower down. […] Overhanging eaves forming shelter around the building are a consequence where the gable wall is in line with the other walls of the buildings; i.e., unless the upper gable is recessed” (“List of roof shapes” 2021). Its variety is the roof of Podhale (in southern Poland).

House of a Black Forest peasant farmer around 1900. Unknown author – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID ppmsca.00288. Public domain. Colours intensified. Photo source: “Black Forest house” (2020). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

Curved roofs with curved or warped surfaces. A special variation is the flat roof with concave slopes, reducing its slope downwards.

Helm is a steep tower roof in the form of a pyramid, cone, also with curved slopes, or in the shape of a dome.

Onion roof resembles an onion and is especially found in southern Germany, Austria and Russia.

Bulbous cupola had originated from the onion roof, but it is concave in the lower part; often it is the basis of a multi-storey helmet. In the Baroque style, the roof is topped with a lantern.

Gabled steeple is a multi-slope roof, in a quadrilateral or polygonal projection,resembling the form of an accordion.

Rhomboidal roof consists of a diamond-shaped slopes.

Transverse roofs covering a church are distinguished by the coverage of the side aisles with a row of gable roofs parallel to each other, transverse to the longitudinal axis of the church.

Raised roofs are typical of the type B of the so called stave churches in Norway (see Hopperstad Stavekirke: Under the Surveillance of Wooden Dragons). “On the stone foundation, four huge ground beams (…) are placed. (…) The ends of these beams support the sills of the outer walls, forming a separate horizontal frame. The tall internal posts are placed on the internal frame of ground beams, and carry the main roof above the central nave (…). On the outer frame of sills rest the main wall planks (…), carrying the roof over the pentice or aisles (…) surrounding the central space” (“Stave church” 2021). The two roofs are made of roof shingles and, by the way of being constructed, they slope down in two steps, as in a basilica, giving a beautiful effect of a single overhung, usually multi-tiered and cascading roof.

Tiered roof, a type having a series of overlapping rows or levels placed one above the other. It occurs, for instance, in raised roofs of stave churches (Norway) or in prasats (Thai architecture).

Clerestory roofs, typical of a basilica type of churches and cathedrals. A clerestory covers a high section of the church, which wall contains windows above eye level. Its purpose is to admit light into the main nave of the church, situated between two lower and separately roofed aisles.

Shell roof (contemporary times) covers a spherical structure supported on its four corners.

Suspended roof (contemporary times) the weight of which rests on oval supports and allows large areas to be covered without internal supports.

A curved roof, including a tower roof (cupola), a spire, a conical roof, a spherical, domed (cupola), and an onion-shaped roof always have one gable point. A decorative round or polygonal canopy, placed on a tower or a spire in those types of roofs is called a cap.

Mansard roofs are roofs with two storeys of slopes separated from each other by a break, a step, a cornice or a wall. The roof was named after the French architect J. H. Mansart (1648-1708), whose design makes it possible to place residential rooms with sloping walls (mansards) in the attic. This type of roof also includes the Polish mansard roof, and its variant, the roof of Cracow (Poland).

Type of the roof of Cracow, applied in a design of an outbuilding of the Ustronie castle in Warsaw (architect S. Zawadzki). Drawing from C. Antonini – Książka Ireny Malinowskiej – “Stanisław Zawadzki” (1953). Public domain. Photo source: “Dach krakowski” (2020). In: Wikipedia. Wolna encyklopedia.

Shed roofs consist of several asymmetrical gable roofs arranged one after the other in such a way that the cross-section of the roof creates a toothed line. Usually, less steep roofs form a cover in a saw-tooth roof, while windows are placed in steeper slopes, which allows good lighting of workshop rooms.

Tented or pavilion roofs (hipped; in the form of a pyramid) have several triangular slopes, depending on the projection of the covered building (quadrangular, rectangular, polygonal), descending overhead at one gable point. For example, in a square projection, the four roof slopes meet at one gable point.

Pitched roofs (concave, recessed) have slopes with a slope towards the center of the building, forming a trough or a basin, with adequate water drainage, often covered with an attic. In contemporary architecture, there is a return to curved roofing, based on new construction solutions.

Surfaces and solids of the roof can be enriched with a decorative roofing system, openings, mansards, dormers, skylights, chimneys, and with special decorations: pinnacles, combs, laces and balustrades.

Featured image: Zakopane (Poland), a house with a half-gable roof. The roof is characteristic of the architecture of Podhale, hence it is also called the Zakopane or Podhale roof. Photo by Januszk57 (2012). CC BY-SA 3.0 pl. Photo source: “Dach półszczytowy” (2021). Wikipedia. Wolna encyklopedia.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

“Dach półszczytowy” (2021). In: Wikipedia. Wolna encyklopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/3tgL7MF>. [Accessed 1st February, 2021].

“Black Forest house” (2020). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/2NXEqyX>. [Accessed 1st February, 2021].

“Dach krakowski” (2020). In: Wikipedia. Wolna encyklopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/3tpk7L9>. [Accessed 1st February, 2021].

“Dach pilasty” (2021). In: Wikipedia. Wolna encyklopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/3ahe5mI>. [Accessed 1st February, 2021].

“List of roof shapes” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/3tiNWgg>. [Accessed 1st February, 2021].

“Roof” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/36x2LSn>. [Accessed 2nd February, 2021].

“Stave church” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/3reLRQr>. [Accessed 1st February, 2021].

Koch W. (2009) Style w architekturze. Arcydzieła budownictwa europejskiego od antyku po czasy współczesne. [Baustilkunde], pp. 244, 281, 436, 680. Baraniewski W., Kunkel R., Omilanowska M., Sito J., Zięba A., Żak K. trans. Warszawa: Świat Książki.

PWN (2007). Słownik terminologiczny sztuk pięknych, pp. 81-82. Kubalska-Sulkiewicz K., Bielska-Łach M., Manteuffel-Szarota A. eds. Wydanie piąte. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN.


Qilin – a Mythical Animal in Chinese or ‘Kirin’ in Japanese

It “is a specific type of the lin mythological family of one-horned beasts”, resembling a unicorn. It looks like a “hooved chimerical creature [mostly represented] in Chinese and other East Asian cultures”. It “is said to appear with the imminent arrival or passing of a sage or illustrious ruler”. The qilin has thus symbolized good and wise governance of a country.

The earliest records with references to the qilin date back to the fifth century BC. The Chinese emperor Wu of Han (157-87 BC.) is believed to have captured a live qilin in 122 BC. Yet the contemporary historian, Sima Qian (ca. 145 – 86 BC.) expressed his skepticism concerning that account. Since then, the qilin has appeared “in a variety of subsequent Chinese works of history, [art] and fiction.

Qilin tomb guardian, fourth century. Placed in a tomb, a dragon provided a means to get to heaven. But ceramic dragons were also modeled in times of drought: “When the dragon appears, then wind and rain arise to escort him.” Photo by Anonymous author (China) – Walters Art Museum: Home page Info about artwork (date not provided). Public domain. Colours intensified; image cropped. Photo and caption source: “Qilin” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

They have been described and depicted in art in various hybrid forms but always with a pair of horns or a horn, the single one or double. Most often, the quilin resemble Chinese dragons with an elongated body and with antlers. Yet, they may also look like a horned bull or a horse. Since the times of the Ming Dynasty (the fourteenth – the seventeenth centuries AD.), the quilin’s body became much more massive than before. It was often covered in fish or reptile scales, and was built of the components of a dragon, fish, and ox, with the pair of horns on top of its maned head.

Featured image: Plate with a qilin in the center, Yuan dynasty (1271 to 1368 AD.). Photo by Rijksmuseum (not provided). CC0. Colours intensified. Photo source: “Qilin” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

“Qilin” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/3bwTqMf>. [Accessed 23rd February, 2021].

PWN (2007). Słownik terminologiczny sztuk pięknych, p. 340. Kubalska-Sulkiewicz K., Bielska-Łach M., Manteuffel-Szarota A. eds. Wydanie piąte. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN.

Pediment as an Ornament in Architecture

An architectural ornamental element, specifically found in Classical, Neoclassical and Baroque architecture, where it is called frontispiece, where it is richly filled with sculpture. In the construction of roofs, it takes the shape of the half-hipped roof (see:). The pediments usually consists of triangular gable (a portion of a wall between the edges of intersecting roof pitches). Nevertheless, it can equally be segmental, broken, shaped, or scrolled (in the form of a volute), or it can constitute a cantilever above a window or door.

Illustrations of types of pediments. Photo by Beautiful Buildings Pics (2019). CC BY-SA 4.0. Colours intensified. Photo source: “Pediment” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

Featured image: Two windows with pediments of the house with number 10 on the General Eremia Grigorescu in Bucharest (Romania). Photo by Beautiful Buildings Pics (2019). CC BY-SA 4.0. Image cropped; colours intensified. Photo source: “Pediment” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

“Pediment” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/3bgG2eT>. [Accessed 17th February, 2021].

Koch W. (2009) Style w architekturze. Arcydzieła budownictwa europejskiego od antyku po czasy współczesne. [Baustilkunde], pp. 436, 460, 484-485, 496, 498. Baraniewski W., Kunkel R., Omilanowska M., Sito J., Zięba A., Żak K. trans. Warszawa: Świat Książki.

PWN (2007). Słownik terminologiczny sztuk pięknych, pp. 81, 125, 272. Kubalska-Sulkiewicz K., Bielska-Łach M., Manteuffel-Szarota A. eds. Wydanie piąte. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN.

Obelisks in the Landscape, from Ancient Egypt to Modern Times

From Greek obeliskos: spit, nail, pointed pillar; from Latin obeliscus.

Tall and usually four-sided, narrow stone pillar tapering upwards, truncated at the top, with a pyramid-like shape or pyramidion in the form of an elongated pyramid. Monumental and monolithic obelisks were made of a single stone. They are characteristic of ancient Egyptian architecture, where they “[originally] were called tekhenu. […] The Greeks who saw them [in Egypt] used the Greek term obeliskos to describe them, and this word passed into Latin and ultimately [into] English [and other modern languages]” (“Obelisk” 2021).

Pylon of the Temple of Luxor with the remaining Luxor Obelisk in front (the second is in the Place de la Concorde in Paris). Photo by Olaf Tausch (2019). CC BY 3.0. Colours intensified. Photo and caption source: “Obelisk” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

In modern European art, obelisks were adopted as one of the forms of commemorative monuments, and in smaller proportions as a decorative element in architecture, including the form of pinnacles, sculpture and artistic craftsmanship. The obelisk has also been popularized especially in the romantic gardens as a form of monument commemorating outstanding people and events. “Most modern obelisks are made of several stones” (“Obelisk” 2021).

Featured image: Niney-two foot (over twenty-eight metres), the unfinished obelisk, before sand was cleared away (stereograph, 1904), still lying in the Assuan granite quarry at the first cataract, Egypt. Underwood & Underwood – This image comes from the Travelers in the Middle East Archive (TIMEA) where it is available at the following Uniform Resource Identifier: 5646. CC BY-SA 2.5. Photo and caption source: “Unfinished obelisk” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

“Obelisk” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/2NTU5PX>. [Accessed on 1st March, 2021].

“Unfinished obelisk” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/3e3T2YF>. [Accessed on 1st March, 2021].

PWN (2007). Słownik terminologiczny sztuk pięknych, p. 281. Kubalska-Sulkiewicz K., Bielska-Łach M., Manteuffel-Szarota A. eds. Wydanie piąte. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN.

Columns ‘in Antis’ in Ancient Temples and Tombs

In ancient architecture, an anta or antae (antas) is an architectural term that describes the end of the protruding side walls of the naos (the inner chamber or sanctuary of a temple), forming a pronaos (a porch). By these means, the antas, as a part of the front walls, create posts or pillars on either side of an entrance to the naos and are usually shaped as pilasters, usually with more decorative capitals than the front columns. However, the anta differs from the pilaster, where the latter is purely decorative element and does not function as a structural support of the anta. The term in antis, applied to a pronaos or a temple (aedes in antis, templum in antis), meaning a type of structure (a temple, a tomb) with two (or more) columns or caryatids in the pronaos, placed between the antas.

The Athenian Treasury in Delphi with two antae framing a set of two columns. Photo by Dennis Jarvis from Halifax, Canada (2005). CC BY-SA 2.0. Photo and caption source: “Anta (architecture)” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

The antas could also appear from the side of the naos‘s rear wall, as a repetition of the arrangement used from the front side of the temple (the so-called temple in double antis). In the layouts of temples with a full colonnade in the facade (such as, for example, prostylos or amphiprostylos), the antas are much shorter.

Templum in antis. Drawing by CLI (2009). Public domain. Photo and caption source: “Anta (architektura)” (2021). In: Wikipedia. Wolna Encyklopedia.

Featured image: The most impressive of all the tombs of Telmessus (Fethiye). It represents a category of Lycian temple – tombs, usually with two columns in antis. Copyright©Archaeotravel.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

“Anta (architecture)” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/3nuIC6L>. [Accessed on 28th April, 2021].

“Anta (architektura)” (2021). In: Wikipedia. Wolna Encyklopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/3eCBHVg>. [Accessed on 28th April, 2021].

PWN (2007). Słownik terminologiczny sztuk pięknych, p. 14. Kubalska-Sulkiewicz K., Bielska-Łach M., Manteuffel-Szarota A. eds. Wydanie piąte. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN.

Naiskos in the Funerary Architecture of Ancient Greeks

A type of tombstone in ancient Greece, mostly in the fourth and fifth centuries BC. It imitated the shape of templum in antisIt, namely, it looked like a small temple in classical order with antas, columns or pillars and a decorative pediment, also decorated with figures in the facade. The pediment (frontispiece) was usually filled with family scenes in high relief, where the dead appeared inside the house alongside the living. Also “[some] of the Hellenistic inscriptions found in the Bay of Grama, [in the Ionian Sea of Albania], are placed inside a naiskos, and in this case the religious context is an invocation of Castor and Pollux, [the] Dioskouroi [in Greek and Roman mythology], for a safe passage across the Adriatic, rather than funerary” (“Naiskos” 2020).

Funerary naiskos of a young soldier (Aristonautes, son of Archenautes, of the deme Halai). Pentelic marble, found in the Kerameikos necropolis in Athens, ca. 350–325 BC. Photo by Marsyas (2005). CC BY 2.5. Photo and caption source: “Naiskos” (2020). In: Wikipedia. Wolna Encyklopedia.

The naiskos form developed from an Attic tombstone stelae in the second half of the fourth century BC.; initially simple in shape, with time they had acquired a more complicated form referring to the facade of a Greek temple with a pediment supported by columns.

The facade of Naiksos also appears as a decorative motif  in the funerary “black-figure and red-figure pottery of Ancient Greece at the Loutrophoros and the Lekythos and the red-figure wares of Apulia in South Italy, [the fourth century BC.]” (“Naiskos” 2020).

A similar style of funerary tombstones can be also observed in the so-called aedicula, typical of Roman art.

Featured image: Naiskos-style funerary stele of Cyzicus (an ancient town of Mysia in Anatolia, in the current Balıkesir Province of Turkey), with high-relief decoration; epitaph inscribed on the plint: “Attalos, son of Asklepiodoros, greetings!” Made of marble, from the second quarter of the second century BC. Stele of funerary banquet represents, from left to right, a servant holding a round object, perhaps a model of the Arsinoeion in Samothrace, a seated woman, a half-reclining man holding a phiale in which a snake is drinking, a boy cupbearer. Department of Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities, Denon, ground floor, room 11 (Musée du Louvre, Paris, France). Photo by Jastrow (2008). Credit given by W. H. Waddington, (1854). CC BY 3.0. Image cropped. Photo and caption source: Wikimedia Commons (2021).

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

“Naiskos” (2020). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/3bQQvhL>. [Accessed on 28th February, 2021].

“Naiskos” (2020). In: Wikipedia. Wolna Encyklopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/2PkkoiN>. [Accessed on 28th February, 2021].

“Naiskos stele of Cyzicus” (2021). In: Wikimedia Commons. Available at <https://bit.ly/3bHRUaa>. [Accessed on 28th February, 2021].

PWN (2007). Słownik terminologiczny sztuk pięknych, p. 274. Kubalska-Sulkiewicz K., Bielska-Łach M., Manteuffel-Szarota A. eds. Wydanie piąte. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN.

Matzevah – a Traditional Form of a Jewish tombstone

Jewish tombstone in the form of a vertically positioned rectangular stone or wooden slab, and from the nineteenth century also made of cast iron, topped with a straight line, triangle, semicircle or two segments of a circle, decorated with a bas-relief in the upper part and covered with an inscription (epitaph) at the bottom. The Hebrew epitaph was placed on the eastern side of the slab, as both, the tomb and the tombstone were oriented to the east. The stone slab was placed on the grave, on the headboard or in the legs of the deceased. It was often supported from the back by a stone block with a rectangular or semicircular cross-section, very rarely decorated.

Matzevot at the Cemetery in Warsaw at Okopowa Street. Photo by Grzegorz Petka (2008). Public domain. Image cropped. Colours intensified. Photo source: “Macewa” (2021). In: Wikipedia. Wolna Encyklopedia.

The reliefs in the upper part of the tombstone are not only decorative, but also symbolic; from the sixteenth century on, above the epitaph but under the top of the matzeva, there were usually sculpted symbols referring to the name of the deceased, their profession, character features, or sadness, mourning and death. Some of the decorative motifs on the matzevot are intended for representatives of traditional groups of the Jewish community, e.g. for a person from a priestly family (kohena) – those were hands folded in prayer, for a descendant of a Levite family, a cup, for a scholar or a rabbi – a Torah crown or a book for a woman, a lamp-stand, for the descendants of the tribe of Judah, a lion. Over time, the matzevot were given an increasingly complex architectural form, with cornices, columns, and recesses, and its height increased, sometimes reaching four meters.

Matzevah derived from the distant past, when it first meant sacred pillars in Canaanite sanctuaries, and then boulders, placed in memory of some important event; placed in cemeteries by Ashkenazi Jews.

Such a tombstone was adopted in Poland; the oldest one preserved there dates back to 1203 and is now at a Jewish cemetery in Wrocław (Poland), at Ślężna Street. The form of the matzevot is also recalled by erratic boulders placed on graves in Jewish cemeteries in north-eastern Poland. When in the early nineteenth century’s Poland, the administrative authorities of the partitioning powers ordered Jews to take surnames, Jewish traditionalists placed an appropriate entry containing this name on the reverse, unfinished side of the matzeva. In the areas associated with German culture, from the mid-nineteenth century, it was customary to place an epitaph in Hebrew on one side of the matzevah, and in German on the other. Similar records can also be found in Jewish cemeteries in large cities of central Poland, on the graves of assimilated Jews.

Featured image: Matzevot at the old Jewish cemetery in Wrocław. Photo by Barbara Maliszewska (2010). CC BY-SA 3.0 pl. Image cropped. Colours intensified. Photo source: “Macewa” (2021). In: Wikipedia. Wolna Encyklopedia.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

“Macewa” (2021). In: Wikipedia. Wolna Encyklopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/3tXyQwX>. [Accessed 14th February, 2021].

Jagielski J. (2021). “Mazewa”. In: Portal DELET. Available at <https://bit.ly/2ZeT6fx>. [Accessed 14th February, 2021].

PWN (2007). Słownik terminologiczny sztuk pięknych, p. 244. Kubalska-Sulkiewicz K., Bielska-Łach M., Manteuffel-Szarota A. eds. Wydanie piąte. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN.

The Labarum of Constantine the Great

From the time of the Roman Emperor, Constantine the Great (306-337), it was the imperial and military banner (a vexillum). The original standard was first used by Constantine during the Battle of the Milvian Bridge against Maxentius (312) but the same name also refers to similar standards produced in imitation of the original one in the Late Antique world and later on.

A follis of Constantine (c. 337) showing a depiction of his labarum spearing a serpent on the reverse; the inscription reads SPES PVBLICA. Struck 337 AD. Constantinople mint. CONSTANTI-NVS MAX AVG, laureate head right SPES PVBLICA across field, labarum, with three medallions on drapery and crowned by a christogram, spearing serpent. CONS in exergue. RIC VII 19. According to RIC, this famous reverse type represents the defeat of tyranny by the death of Licinius. Yet, the scene also has powerful Christian imagery in that it allegorically portrays the power of Christianity over evil. Coin from CNG coins, through Wildwinds. Used with permission. Follis 337 Constantine. Photo and caption by Classical Numismatic Group, Inc. (2005). CC BY-SA 3.0. Image enlarged; colours intensified. Photo source: “Labarum” (2020). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

The origin of the word labarum is a matter of scientific debate. Some suggest it derived from the Latin word labarum. Others say it is a Gallic word because Gaul was the starting point for the war against Maxentius, and there were many Gauls in the army.

The emperor Honorius (393-423) holding a variant of the labarum – the Latin phrase on the cloth means “In the name of Christ [rendered by the Greek letters XPI] be ever victorious” and the Globus with the still pagan symbol the victory. Photo and caption by Marsyas (2006). Public domain. Colours intensified. Photo source: “Labarum” (2020). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

After a Christian author and an advisor to Roman emperor, Constantine I, Lactantius (240-320), shortly before the battle, the emperor fell into ecstasy, during which he received an order from Christ to place on the shields of soldiers the sign of heaven, consisting of the first two Greek letters of the word ‘Christ’ (ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ) — Chi (χ) and Rho (ρ). This monogram is indeed found on coins and writings from the time of Constantine. Eusebius of Caesarea (260-339), a biographer of the emperor’s life, adds that at the moment of the start of the fight, the pagan ruler called for the help of the Christian God, as a result of which he saw in the daylight a radiant cross with the Greek words: ‘Through this sign you will win!’ The next night, Constantine saw Christ with the cross and was advised to have a banner made with the image of the cross, displaying the christogram of the ‘Chi-Rho’ symbol ☧. This banner is, of course, a labarum, made in the shape of the letter T, standing for the cross, and attached to the upper bar. As such it was henceforth carried by Constantine’s troops.

The day after his victory, on October 29, 312, Constantine rode triumphantly into Rome. The city gave him a wonderful party. As for the vaccination of Christianity, it was still until the end of his reign, a transitional period. But although Constantine chose not to tease the Roman pagans with a new religion in one God, he nonetheless openly manifested the origins of Christianism in the heart of the Western world by minting coins with the christogram of the ‘Chi-Rho’ while the labarum in the form of the cross flew over the ranks of his army.

Constantine’s labarum, with a wreathed Chi Rho from an antique silver medal. The “medallions” which are said to have shown portraits of Constantine and his sons are sometimes replaced by the three circles or dots. Drawing by Nordisk familjebok (1911), vol.14, p.1088. Uploaded in 2006. Public domain. Photo and caption source: “Labarum” (2020). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.
Coin of Vetranio (350 AD.), a soldier is holding two labara. Notably, they differ from the labarum of Constantine in having the Chi-Rho depicted on the cloth rather than above it, and in having their staves decorated with phalerae as were earlier Roman military unit standards. Photo by Marsyas (2010). Public domain. Colours intensified. Photo and caption source: “Labarum” (2020). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

Featured image: The emperor Constantine IX Monomachos (1042-1055) (centre panel of a Byzantine enamelled crown) holding a miniature labarum. Photo by Andrew massyn (2008). Public domain. Image cropped. Colours intensified. Photo source: “Labarum” (2020). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

“Labarum” (2020). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/3tPYsM8>. [Accessed 12th February, 2021].

PWN (2007). Słownik terminologiczny sztuk pięknych, pp. 69, 224. Kubalska-Sulkiewicz K., Bielska-Łach M., Manteuffel-Szarota A. eds. Wydanie piąte. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN.

Rops D. (1968). Kościół pierwszych wieków. pp. 477-480. [L’église des apôtres et des martyrs]. Ostrowska K. trans. Warszawa: Instytut Wydawniczy PAX.

Kaá – a Hall inside Oriental Palaces and Houses

A large, high hall, a kind of living room in wealthy oriental houses. It used to be one of the harem rooms.

Featured image: Interiors of the Topkapi Seray in Istanbul, Turkey. Chambers and halls of the harem. Copyright©Archaeotravel.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: PWN (2007). Słownik terminologiczny sztuk pięknych, p. 168. Kubalska-Sulkiewicz K., Bielska-Łach M., Manteuffel-Szarota A. eds. Wydanie piąte. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN.

Workshop of the Jacob Family of Ébénistes

A famous family of French ébénistes who worked in Paris in 1765-1847. The founder of the company was George Jacob, and his successors were his sons: Georges the Second, dealing exclusively with the administration of the company, and François Honoré Jacob-Desmalter. Then the Jacob House was developed by the founder’s grandson, Georges-Alphonse Jacob Desmalter, who in 1847 sold the company to an outstanding carpenter J. Jeanselmow. During this time, the Jacob House developed into a large enterprise, especially under Napoleon. In 1808, it employed 332 workers.

Napoleon’s Jewel-Cabinet, 1809 (Musée du Louvre). Early 19th-century drawing of mahogany cabinet given by Napoleon I to Marie Louise as a wedding present in 1810. Uploaded by Bishonen (2007). {{PD-Art}}. Public domain. Photo source: “François-Honoré-Georges Jacob-Desmalter” (2020). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

Mostly expensive furniture was made by the Jacob for the needs of European courts, thanks to which it had a real impact on the development of European furniture. The furniture, manufactured for 82 years, bore the stylish features fashionable in France from the reign of Louis XV to Louis Philippe, with a predominance of the Neo-classicist trends. Having personal ties with renowned artists, the Jacob made furniture according to their drawings, for example, furniture designed by Hubert Robert, in style à la grecque, according to the designs of Napoleon’s first painter, Jacques-Louis David, including the chaise longue depicted in his painting, The Loves of Paris and Helen, and above all according to the designs of Charles Percier and Pierre François Léonard Fontaine, founders of the directorate and of the Empire. There were also references to the creators of English furniture.

The Jacob furnished residences in Fontainebleau, Compiègne, Malmaison and Saint Cloud, among others, during the restoration of the interior of the Elysée Palace. Initially, the company’s specialty was to make furniture for sitting and sleeping, i.e. chairs, armchairs, sofas, banquets, beds, chaise lounges or recamier – a usually backless couch having curved arms often of unequal height. Later, chests of drawers, secretaries, tables, desks and others were also manufactured. The furniture was characterized by harmonious, symmetrical arrangements, straight or smoothly rounded lines, an extremely functional solution and solid workmanship. The Jacob were the first to introduce mahogany in France, which was associated with English influences. They also used the wood of citrus, birch, acacia, oak, pear, boxwood, yew and others, as well as ebony and amaranth inlays, painting, gilding and carving, sometimes discreet bronzes and porcelain plaques.

The Jacob furniture was also massively counterfeited.

Featured image: The Love of Helen and Paris (detail). Painting by Jacques-Louis David (1748 –1825). Uploaded by Livioandronico (2013). Public domain. Image cropped and enlarged. Photo source: “The Loves of Paris and Helen” (2020). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

“The Loves of Paris and Helen” (2020). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/3pUxqQr>. [Accessed 26th February, 2021].

“François-Honoré-Georges Jacob-Desmalter” (2020). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/3dPljSo>. [Accessed 26th February, 2021].

PWN (1997-2021). Słownik terminologiczny sztuk pięknych, p. 164. Kubalska-Sulkiewicz K., Bielska-Łach M., Manteuffel-Szarota A. eds. Wydanie piąte. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN

Through the Unknown

You cannot copy content of this page