Oak --In woodworking, the common name applied to the genus QUERCUS, a family furnishing a wide variety of timbers prized in fine furniture and cabinet making, architecture, paneling, doweling, and in the making of moldings and musical instruments. English oak, of straight grain and coarse texture, finds use in practically all of the above; Dyer's oak is important in that its bark yields a product used in dyeing and leather tanning; Baltic oak (known also as Memel oak and Danzig oak) is similar to English oak; Riga oak is used chiefly as an architectural timber; the coarser American red and American white oaks, irregular in grain, are used for many carving and turnery purposes. See also beef oak, satin oak, silky oak, and tulip oak.

Obah --A plucked-string musical instrument of Africa consisting of a triangular frame of wood with one corner inserted in a gourd and furnished with fiber strings. In playing, the gourd is held against the body.

Oban --In Japanese art, a rather large print, approximating 15 inches by 10 inches in size.

Obbligato --An obligatory, or indispensable accompaniment, usually instrumental, to a solo musical rendition. It is essential to the purpose of effectiveness of the music and, as distinguished from ad libitum, it cannot be omitted. See accompaniment.

Obelisk --A four-sided, usually monolithic pillar, tapering as it rises, and terminating in a smooth-faced pyramid; invariably constructed in front of ancient Egyptian temples where they were known natively as tekhen or sunstone. In its oldest form it was found in tombs of the IVth DYNASTY ( 3050 B.C.) in pairs, each having a false door for the ka (qq.v.). Most obelisks were of limestone, basalt or granite, and many were more than 100 feet in height, inscribed on all four sides. How the ancient Egyptians raised these obelisks into upright position remains a mystery to archaeologists. See Cleopatra's Needle.

Obi --In Japanese costume art, a sash or belt worn with the kimono (q.v.).

Objective writing --In literature, that type of writing in which the author's personal thoughts and feelings play no part; he is concerned only with describing events and ideas external to himself. Except in purely scientific writing, complete objectivity is seldom achieved, because the author's personality will invariably tinge his work unconsciously. Some forms, however, particularly the drama, narrative verse and the novel, lend themselves more readily to objectivity than others. Autobiography, the essay, the lampoon and lyric verse, on the other hand, are naturally subjective. See subjective writing.

Oblique drawing --A drawing executed on three axes; similar to an isometric drawing except that one axis is drawn horizontally, one vertically, and one at an angle. Measurements are laid out along these axes representing the length, breadth and thickness of the object. See isometric drawing and cabinet drawing.

Oblivescence --The gradual fading out of an impression, whether a mental image or one created by stimulus.

Oboe --A double-beating reed wind instru-

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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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