VI VERI VENIVERSUM VIVUS VICI


jeudi 9 décembre 2010

Origins of VITRUVIAN MAN

While describing the proportions of the ideal man, Vitruvius mentions that this canon was used by 'the ancients' especially while composing the sacred buildings. The question is whom Vitruvius had in mind, while referring to the ancients...

4. Therefore if Nature has planned the human body so that the members correspond in their proportions to its complete configuration, the ancients seem to have had reason in determining that in the execution of their works they should observe an exact adjustment of the several members to the general pattern of the plan. Therefore, since in all their works they handed down orders, they did so especially in building temples, the excellences and the faults of which usually endure for ages. - Book 3, c. I1


A collection Sketches and Trial Pieces in British Museum, contains a strange piece under the catalogue number EGYPT-5601. The official description is:

Wooden board overlaid with gesso which was used by an artist either for teaching purposes or for making a preliminary drawing which would subsequently be reproduced on a larger scale as a carved relief on the wall of a temple. Both in order to facilitate enlargement and to ensure that be observed canonical proportions, the artist has drawn the seated figure of a king over a grid composed of a red vertical and horizontal lines. When reproducing the figure on a larger scale a similar grid, but of larger dimensions, would be drawn on the wall and a correspondingly larger figure drawn over it, the various members being placed in the same relative position as in the original sketch. The hieroglyphic group repeated twice in the cartouches opposite the face, contains a combination of king Tuthmosis III (c. 1450 B.C.) and ether Senusret I (c. 2000 B.C.), or Pinejem I (c. 1050 B.C.) which suggests that the artist had no particular king in mind when drawing a sketch. The chick and the human arms represent hieroglyphic signs presumably drawn for practice.


Origins of VITRUVIAN MAN
. British Museum: Wooden board overlaid with gesso, EGYPT-5601, Sketches and Trial pieces. .
This wooden board proves that the ancient Egyptians used a composition of modules - the repetition of the same module throughout the whole composition - while constructing a human figure whose proportions were the foundation of all compositions. The outlines and the angles of the seated King are completely defined by the projection grid. This grid was not used only as a tool for transferring the sketch to a larger scale, but most importantly, it is defining the relations of the various parts among themselves, and the canonical relations between parts and the whole. The right side of the wooden board obviously represents no hieroglyphs, but seven different lengths that Egyptians used for a cubit. This cubits are not drawn as hieroglyphs, but their obvious right angle suggests that they are measures, rulers.


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The seated figure of an Egyptian king is 15 modules high, whereas the standing figure would hypothetically be 20 modules in height. Vitruvius states that the head from the chin to the crown represents an eighth part of the whole height. The head of the figure on Egyptian wooden board is 2.5 modules, which is fitting into the height of the seated figure 6 times. A whole number, in this case a sixth part, proves that the head modularly fits into the whole height just like in Vitruvius' description. If the height of the standing figure is 20 modules, then it is the same relation as Vitruvius is describing, 2.5 modules are an eighth part of the height. Vitruvius furthermore states that from the middle of the breast to the crown is a fourth part, which also describes the proportions of Egyptian figure. This relation is also suggestive of the height 20 modules, since it is nicely fitting into the divisions of the figure represented in drawing, it fits three times in the height of the the seated figure, whereas it would fit four times in the standing, a simplicity that is suggestive. Other Vitruvius' instructions don't seem to fit in the Egyptian drawing, or are difficult to prove, like parts concerning to the roots of the hair which is on the drawing elusive. Also the definition of the foot and length of the cubit, according to Vitruvius a sixth and a quarter are not the same. The foot of the figure seems to measure 3 modules, and the cubit ranging somewhere from 5.5 to 6.5 modules if the seven cubits drawn on the right of the wooden board are measured.


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Another interesting feature of this ancient Egyptian composition is that it is not constructed solely on modular grid, but the composition is ruled also by a triangle, and a square, just like we learn from Leonardo's drawing of Vitruvian Man. In a way, a rigid system of the grid is softened by geometry.






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The triangle is suggested at the lower right corner of composition. The ends of the staff of the king are touching the corners of the triangle rotated within a circle with the diameter of 20 modules, which also means that it stands under the angle of 60+30/2 = 75. Fifteen modules of the seated figure's height is exactly the height of the triangle.

Like in da Vinci's drawing, the center of the standing figure is not the navel as Vitruvius prescribes, but the joint of the legs and the body, in da Vinci's case the place of phallos, while in this proto-Vitruvian Man, the posterior.

Like in da Vinci's drawing a square plays an important role, but in a slightly different manner. If the circle is 20 modules in diameter, the inscribed square would have a side: 20 / sqr(2) = 14.14 or 14 modules. Relation between the circle and the square 10 : 7 is a rational approximation of the square root of 2 from the second of Pell Series:

2nd Pell Serie: 1 - 3 - 7 - 17 - 41 - 99 ... and 3 + 7 = 10

The difference between the circle and the inscribed square is 3 modules on both sides, or the height from shoulders to the top of the head, which fits in the height of the seating figure 5 times.



Bibliography:

Vitruvius, De Architectura, F. Granger's translation, Loeb Classical Library, 1970

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SOURCE: www.aiwaz.net

http://www.aiwaz.net/Origins-of-VITRUVIAN-MAN/a7

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