A

A-- First letter of the English alphabet, deriving from the Hebrew ALEPH. In music the sixth note or tone in the natural diatonic scale of C major, or the first note of the relative minor scale, having a frequency of 440 vibrations per second. It is the tone sounded by the open second string of the violin as given to it by a musical instrument having fixed tone (e.g., piano, oboe or organ). It is the pitch used to bring an entire orchestra into tune, and is the la in the music of Italy, France and Spain.

Aah-- In Egyptian mythology, the god of the moon. He was frequently represented in the arts, generally shown with a human body, the face of an animal, and a full moon over his head. Recent archaeological excavations have produced numerous images of Aah in sculpture.

Aaklae-- In fabrics, the term applied to fine tapestries made of wool in deep, rich earth colors, embroidered in eastern Norway since the early 12th century. The patterns are generally based on the principle of the checker work (q.v.) background, and early specimens are museum pieces today.

Aapep-- See Apepi.

Aaron ha-Kodesch-- In the architecture of synagogues, the prominently displayed interior structure containing the sacred scrolls or Ark of the Law; also spelled (esp. in English writings) aron hakodesch.

Aaron's rod-- (1) In architecture, an ornamental molding consisting of a straight, rounded rod from which pointed leaves, scrolls, etc., sprout on either side. (2) In the arts generally, any pattern or ornament consisting of a rod with one serpent entwined about it, as distinguished from the caduceus, which has two serpents meeting face to face at the upper extremity.

A-B-A-- In literature and music, a popular symbol denoting a three-part structure in which the first and third sections, movements, etc., are alive in action or tempo, flanking the second which constitutes a mood or lull. See sonata form.

Aba-- In costume art, a sleeveless cape-like garment originally worn in the East (along with the turban) for pageantry and theatrical purposes, as well as for religious pilgrimages. Today many Arabs employ the aba as the customary outer garment.

Abaciscus-- In mosaic work, any single unit or design constituting part of the over-all pattern; a small, square section of a large design constructed of tesserae. Also, any individual tile or stone in a tessellated floor or pavement. Sometimes referred to as abaculus, in which sense it also denotes a diminutive abacus (q.v.).

Abacot-- A term in costume art; see bycocket.

Abacus-- In classic styles of architecture, the flat upper part of the molded or sculptured head of a column, used in support of the superstructure; the slab or plinth which forms the upper member of the capital of a pillar or column, upon which the lower section of the architrave rests. In Greek Doric it is thick and square, without sculptured decoration; in Ionic it is thinner and ornamented with side moldings; in Corinthian it is ornate and has concave sides and truncated corners; in medieval architecture the entablature was aban-

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Dictionary of the Arts
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Introduction v
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • A 1
  • B 62
  • C 119
  • D 203
  • E 236
  • F 260
  • G 290
  • H 318
  • I 343
  • J 359
  • K 368
  • L 385
  • M 411
  • N 455
  • O 471
  • P 490
  • Q 562
  • R 567
  • S 605
  • T 692
  • U 744
  • V 751
  • W 767
  • X 782
  • Y 785
  • Z 792
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