General Ahiman Rezon, by Daniel Sickels, , at sacred-texts.com
The ORDERS OF ARCHITECTURE are next considered and explained.
By order in architecture is meant a system of all the members, proportions, and ornaments of columns and pilasters; or, it is a regular arrangement of the projecting parts of a building, which, united with those of a column, form a beautiful, perfect, and complete whole.
From the first formation of society, order in architecture may be traced. When the rigor of seasons obliged men to contrive shelter from the inclemency of the weather, we learn that they first planted trees on end, and then laid others across, to support a covering. The bands which connected those trees at top and bottom are said to have given rise to the idea of the base and capital of pillars; and from this simple hint originally proceeded the more improved art of architecture.
The first habitations of men were such as Nature afforded, with but little labor on the part of the occupant, and sufficient only to satisfy his simple wants. Each tribe or people constructed, from the materials that presented themselves, such habitations as were best suited to this purpose, and at the same time most convenient.
[paragraph continues] We thus find, in countries remote from other nations, und where foreign influences did not exist, an architecture at once singular, and as indigenous as the vegetation itself. The hypogea of the borders of the Indus, the Nile, and the Ganges—the temporary tents of the nomadic tribes of eastern Asia—the oaks of the Grecian forests, fashioned by the ingenuity of man into the humble cabin (the prototype of the principal Grecian order)—are indubitably the primitive styles of the Egyptian, the Grecian, and the Oriental structures. Anterior to the discovery of printing, the monument was the tablet upon which the various races chronicled for posterity the annals of their history. In the simple, unhewn altar, we recognize the genius of religion: we trace in it the germ of the development of human intelligence; it bespeaks faith, ingenuity, ambition. The ancient Babel, and the altars of Scripture—the monuments of Gilgal and Gilead of the Hebrews—the Celtic Dolmens, the Cromlechs, the Peulvens or Menheirs, the Lichavens, (the Trelithous of the Greeks,) the Nurhags, the Talayots, and the Tumuli, (the Latin Mercuriales,)—are all symbols of pristine faith. With the pagan devotee, the art was made to conform to the moral attributes of the character of the deity in whose honor the monument was erected. With the Greeks, various styles of structure were thus instigated, from the early polygonal formations of the Phoenicians, at Astrea and Tyranthus, to the perfections of design, the imposing Doric, the graceful Ionic, and the magnificent Corinthian orders. Each nation, at every age, possessed its symbolic monuments, revealing its conception of the attributes of the Infinite, with the exception of the Persians, who, as we learn from the Zend Avesta, worshiped in the open air, and who, according to HEEODOTUS, possessed no temples, but revered the whole circuit of the heavens; and the Assyrians, whose Magi interpreted the silent stars, and worshiped the sun. Among such monuments, we must reckon, as the chief, the Temple of SOLOMON, that sublime conception of the spirit of immateriality, true type, in its massive splendor, of a higher and purer belief; at Elora, the temple of Indra, sacred to Swargas, the god of ether, which, according to the Puranas, was designed by Wisvakama, the stapathi, or architect of the heavens. In China, the ancient Tings, Taas, and Mikosi, were temples of the gods, and the mias, in Japan and Siam, were sacred structures. The Pyramids were symbolic emblems of the metempsychosian creed of Egypt. The Djebel Pharouni, the pyramids of Rhamses, the temples of Isis end Osiris, and the Memnon, bespeak
(in their colossal size) a vast and boundless faith. Athens possessed her Parthenon, over whose magnificence presided Minerva Archegetea, and Rome her Pantheon, "shrine of all saints and altar of all gods." Ancient Cordova had her mosque, on which the Moors spent the riches of their oriental taste. Modern Rome possesses her basilica of St. Peters, on whose sublime structure, amid the visible decadence of classic art, MICHAEL ANGELO lavished his genius.—Of the early achievements and of the progressive steps of the science of architecture, there remain but fragments, though sufficient, with the assistance of history, to teach us their antiquity. The epochs of advancement can be traced progressively from the early elements of structure to the more perfected styles; and throughout the whole globe remains of edifices will be found which proclaim an early possession of certain degrees of architectural knowledge.—The most ancient nation known to us who made any considerable progress in the arts of design is the Babylonian. Their most celebrated monuments were the Temple of Belus, the Kasr, and the hanging gardens which Nebuchadnezzar built for his Lydian bride, the wonderful canal of the Naher Malca, and the Lake of Palacópos. An idea of the colossal size of the structures they once composed can be formed from the dimensions of their ruins. The material employed in cementing the burned or sun-dried bricks—upon which hieroglyphics are to be traced—was the mortar produced by Nature from the fountains of naphtha and bitumen at the river Is, near Babylon. No entire architectural monument has come down to us from the Assyrians, whose capital was embellished with the superb Kalla, Ninoah, and the Khorzabad; nor from the Phoenicians, whose cities—Tyre, Sidon, Arados, and Sarepta—were adorned with equal magnificence; nor from the Israelites, whose temples were wonderful structures; nor from the Syrians, the Philistines, and many other nations. Our want of thorough knowledge concerning the architecture of these Oriental nations is attributable partly to the innumerable devastations which have taken place on this great battle-field of the world; but to the perishability of the materials that were employed—such as gypsum, alabaster, wood, terra cotta, and brick, with which their ruins abound—we must likewise attribute, in part, this ignorance.
The massive temples of the Hindoos at Elora, Salsitte, and the Island of Elephanta, seem in their awful grandeur like the habitations of giants, on whose land some divine malediction has fallen. The Hindoos, in these colossal structures with their endless sculptured
panels, their huge figures, and their astounding and intricate excavations, evince a perseverance and industry equaled only by the Egyptians. Their pagodas, towering in the air, are likewise wonderful architectural achievements, quite as admirable as their hypogea. The Indian structures are remarkable for their severe and grotesque appearance. Their temples—whether of BRAHMA, the creator of all; VISHNU, the preserver of all; or of SERB or SHEVA, the destroyer of all—exhibit a striking embodiment of the attributes of the deities in whose honor they were erected.
A remarkable resemblance to the Hindoo constructions has been found in the religious monuments or teocallis of Mexico and Yucatan. But the architectural types of these antique structures sink into insignificance when compared with those of Egypt. The obelisks, pyramids, temples, palaces, tombs, and other structures with which that country abounds, are on a colossal scale, and such as can have been executed only by a people far advanced in architectural art, and profoundly versed in the science of mechanics. These works, like the Hindoo structures, were remarkable for their gigantic proportions and massiveness. Intricate and highly painted relievo sculptures or hieroglyphics covered the entire extent of their walls. The prevailing monotony of the hieroglyphic designs which form the chief feature of Egyptian architectural decoration, was superinduced by the circumscribed and limiting laws of their religion. In Egyptian architecture we trace the elements of the early Indian school, blended with more harmonious combinations, as likewise the introduction of architectural orders. Beside skilled organization of parts, and a just appreciation of pleasing effect, their works in their colossal features evince a thorough knowledge of the geometrical branch of the science of construction. The architectural genius of Egypt lavished its power on mausoleums, and on gorgeous temples to the deities, which, in their sublimity, inspire awe. They were constructed of granite, breccia, sandstone, and brick, which different materials are adjusted with much precision. The huge blocks employed in their various monuments exhibit a perfect acquaintance with the laws of mechanics. We cannot but wonder at their monolithic obelisks, especially when we reflect upon the immense distances they had to be transported. The pyramidal shape pervades most of their works, the walls of their temples inclining inward. The jambs to their entrance-gates also were generally inclined. The Egyptians never used columns peripterally, even under the dominion of the Greeks and Romans.
when the column was used externally, the space intervening was walled up to a certain height. To these circumstances, together with the fact that their monuments were terraced, eau be ascribed their massive and solid appearance. With them, columns were employed to form porticos in their interior courts, and also to support the ceilings. The shafts, of different forms, being conical, or cylindrical, or bulging out at the base, sometimes presented a smooth surface; they were rarely fluted, being generally covered with hieroglyphics. Occasionally, they were monoliths, but were generally constructed in layers, and covered with hieroglyphics; a circular plinth formed the base. The capitals resemble the lotus, at times, spreading out at the top; again, the flower appears bound together, assuming the bulbous shape; above is a square tablet forming the abacus. Others, of a later date, present projecting convex lobes; while other capitals are composed of a rectangular block, with a head carved on either side, surmounted by a die, also carved. Caryatic figures were also employed by the Egyptians, and were generally placed against walls or pillars, thus appearing to support the entablature, composed of a simple architrave and a coved cornice, with a large torus intervening, which descends the angles of the walls. The Pelasgians appear to have been the first people settled in Greece, numerous remains of whose structures are still extant. Subsequently, from the knowledge possessed by the indigenous tribes, together with that acquired from the Egyptians and the Asiatic nations, the Greeks extracted and developed a style peculiarly their own; and architectural art passed from the gigantic to the elegant and classic forms. During the reign of PERICLES it flourished with meridian splendor, and some of the most superb edifices the world has ever seen were erected during this period. The Grecian monument belonged to the nation, and upon the public works of the country the government lavished fabulous sums. HEEREN informs us that the Greeks placed the necessary appropriation of funds for the public works at the head of the government expenditures. The thoughts of the whole Grecian nation, it would seem, were turned toward the adornment of the country. They forbade by law any architectural display on private residences, and in fact, until after Greece became subject to Macedonia, architects were permitted to work only for the governments.
The beauty and grace which pervade all their works, whether monumental, mechanical, or industrial, lead us to suppose that, although imperfect as regards comfort, they must yet have exhibited
a certain degree of elegance. A just idea of the moldings and ornaments, unequaled for their purity and grace, can be obtained only from personal observation. It is also impossible, from any verbal description, to be able fully to appreciate the beauty and harmony of their different styles. It may not be amiss, however, here to lay down some general principles:—These styles may be classed in systems or orders—the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. They also employed, though rarely, caryatides. Innumerable conjectures exist concerning the origin of these different orders. In all probability we are indebted to the Dorians for the invention of the Doric; although CHAMPOLLION sees in an Egyptian order, which he styles the proto-Doric, the type of the Grecian order of that name. The oldest example extant is at Corinth.—To the Ionians, likewise, is attributed the honor of having first employed the Ionic order, no example of which is to be found in Greece, prior to the Macedonian conquest. As for the origin of the Corinthian, without wishing to discredit the interesting narrative of VITRUVIUS, wherein he accords to CALLIMACHUS the invention of the Corinthian capital, it might be well to state, that foliated capitals, of much greater antiquity than any discovered in Greece, are to be found in Egypt and in Asia Minor. The most perfect Grecian example of this order is employed in the choragic monument of LYSICRATES; and there can be little doubt that the Greeks also derived the idea of their caryatic order from the Egyptians, who frequently employed human figures instead of columns in their structures.—The Doric holds the foremost rank among the Grecian orders, not only on account of its being the most ancient, the most generally employed, and, consequently, the most perfected, but more especially on account of its containing, as it were, the principle of all their architecture, as well as an exact imitation of all the parts employed in their primitive constructions, which were undoubtedly of wood. This style, typical of majesty and imposing grandeur, was almost universally employed by the Greeks in the construction of their temples; and certainly monumental art does not furnish us with the equal of a Greek peripteral temple.
To the Etruscans the invention of the arch, constructed on its true principles, has been generally attributed, as likewise the composition of an order styled Tuscan, a species of simple Doric, no entire example of which, however, has been handed down to us by the ancients.
The history of Roman architecture, under its kings and at the
beginning of the republic, is somewhat obscure, as but few of the monuments of that period remain. The Roman kings fortified the city, and erected various palaces, temples, and tombs. It became adorned with colossal works of art, whose stupendous features—forming such a contrast with the comparative insignificance of its power and condition—would seem to indicate that the future of imperial Rome had been foreshadowed to its people. The early Romans employed Etruscans in their works. When Greece at length fell under the yoke of the Roman empire, Rome became enriched with the spoils of Athens. The Greek artists sought protection and patronage among their conquerors, and adorned the imperial capital with structures which called forth unbounded praise. The Grecian style was blended with the Etruscan during the more early period of the Roman school. But as the arch, which was the characteristic feature of Roman architecture, revealed its treasures, the Grecian elements were employed but as a system of ornamentation. During the middle ages, the spirit of classic art seems to have waned with the glory of the Roman empire. The science of building became perverted, and the fame which the Romans had attained in architecture became a memory only. At this period it is supposed that the construction of houses in stories became general. The habitations of the mass of the people were poor, and irregularly planted about the town-hall in cities, or clustered about those massive structures (feudal castles) erected as fortresses, into which the arrogant possessor might retire, and whence he might sally at pleasure to harass the country. Many of the castle fortresses were on a plan of great magnitude, consisting of two or more large towers and divers inner buildings, including chapels During the gloom and the disastrous influences of the bloody wars of the middle ages, we find the venerable institution of Freemasonry nourishing, under the ashes of its ancient mysteries, the social fire of architectural art. While the whole of Europe was convulsed with the international and social strife and invasions of barbarians, which resulted in its complete reorganization, the study of the arts, sciences, and literature, took refuge in the monasteries. In Italy, during the tenth century, we find the corporation of Magistri Comacini exercising great influence, and giving to Grecian artists shelter from the political troubles of the East, and from the persecutions of the Iconoclasts. These artists promulgated among the Lombards the Byzantine elements of structure. whose influence, es we have seen, was more or less diffused
throughout the architectural schools of Europe. Under ERWIN VON STEINBACH, of Germany, during the thirteenth century, the Mitten, or Lodges, were organized, one object of which was the study of architecture, over which they exercised a powerful influence. In Strasbourg existed the Lodge of the Haupt-Hütte. Under GODOYNE, or JOSSE DOTTZINGER, of Worms, (who in 1444 succeeded the architect J. HULT,) the various sects of the German Freemasons were incorporated into one body, and, in virtue of an act passed at Ratisbon, the same year, the architect of the cathedral of Strasbourg was elected the sole Grand Master of the Fraternity. These magistri lapidum were likewise sole directors or supervisors of all the religious structures. Protected by the Church, sole depository of the arcana of the early Masters, architecture passed from the old Gothic through various phases of the pointed or ogean styles. The influence, the enterprise, and daring achievements of its promoters seemed to strike the contemporary ages as well as posterity with a religious awe; and the intellectual power and energy of the people appear to have been concentrated and expended upon architecture. The revival of the spirit of emulation, engendered by the impetus thus given to art, would seem to have possessed a regenerating power, and to have resuscitated Europe from the condition of moral syncope into which it had fallen. The spirit of an age is embodied in its architecture.
The five orders are thus classed:—the TUSCAN, DORIC, IONIC, CORINTHIAN, and COMPOSITE.
Is the most simple and solid of the five orders. It was invented in Tuscany, whence it derives its name. Its column is seven diameters high; and its capital, base, and entablature have but few moldings. The simplicity of the construction of this column renders it eligible where ornament would be superfluous.
Which is plain and natural, is the most ancient, and was invented by the Greeks. Its column is eight diameters high, and has seldom any ornaments on base or capital, except moldings—though the frieze is distinguished by triglyphs and metopes, and triglyphs compose the ornaments of the frieze. The solid composition of this order gives it a preference, in structures where strength and a noble simplicity are chiefly required. The Doric is the best proportioned of all the orders. The several parts of which it is composed are founded on the natural position of solid bodies. In its first invention, it was more simple than in its present state. In after-times, when it began to be adorned, it gained the name of Doric: for when it was constructed in its primitive and simple form, the name of Tuscan was conferred on it. Hence the Tuscan precedes the Doric in rank, on account of its resemblance to that pillar in its original state.
Bears a kind of mean proportion between the more solid and delicate orders. Its column is
nine diameters high; its capital is adorned with volutes, and its cornice has dentils. There is both delicacy and ingenuity displayed in this pillar, the invention of which is attributed to the Ionians, as the famous "Temple of Diana," at Ephesus, was of this order. It is said to have been formed after the model of an agreeable young woman, of an elegant shape, dressed in her hair; as a contrast to the Doric order, which was formed after that of a strong, robust man.
The richest of the five orders, is deemed a masterpiece of art. Its column is ten diameters high, and its capital is adorned with two rows of leaves, and eight volutes, which sustain the abacus. The frieze is ornamented with curious devices; the cornice with dentils and modillions. This order is used in stately and superb structures. It was invented at Corinth by CALLIMACHUS, who is said to have taken the hint of the capital of this pillar from the following remarkable circumstance:—Accidentally passing by the tomb of a young lady, be perceived a basket of toys, covered with a tile, placed over an acanthus-root, having been left there by her nurse.
As the branches grew up, they encompassed the basket until, arriving at the tile, they met with an obstruction, and bent downwards. CALLIMACHUS, struck with the object, set about imitating the figure; the vase of the capital he made to represent the basket; the abacus, the tile; and the volutes, the bending leaves.
Is compounded of the other orders, and was contrived by the Romans. Its capital has the two rows of leaves of the Corinthian, and the volutes of the Ionic. Its column has quarter-rounds, as the Tuscan and Doric orders; is ten diameters high, and its cornice has dentils, or simple modillions. This pillar is generally found in buildings where strength, elegance and beauty are displayed.
The ancient and original orders of architecture, revered by Masons, are no more than three: the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian, which were invented by the Greeks. To these, the Romans have added two—the Tuscan, which they made plainer than the Doric, and the Composite, which was
more ornamental, if not more beautiful, than the Corinthian. The first three orders alone, however, show invention and particular character, and essentially differ from each other; the two others have nothing but what is borrowed, and differ only accidentally: the Tuscan is the Doric in its earliest state; and the Composite is the Corinthian enriched with the Ionic. To the Greeks, therefore, and not to the Romans, we arc indebted for what is great, judicious, and distinct in architecture.
Of these five orders, the IONIC, DORIC, and CORINTHIAN, as the most ancient, are most esteemed by Masons.
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