ritual, symbolism and craftsmanship

Ancient builders long ago mastered the “integrated expression of an inner state of harmony” in their buildings. The mathematically proportioned forms and handcrafted detailing of temples and government buildings over the centuries grew rich with interrelated meanings and traditions. Each new generation, seeing the world slightly differently added further layers of meaning to the symbols. The tradition of masons and carpenters passing down knowledge—regarding nature, mathematical principles, and symbolism—through an apprenticeship system, propelled both the art and the craft of building to new heights of beauty and technical achievement.
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“Proportion is that agreeable harmony between the several parts of a building, which is the result of a just and regular agreement of them with each other; the height to the width, this to the length, and each of these to the whole.”   -Vitruvius

“The ancients considered ten a perfect number, because the fingers are ten in number, and the palm is derived from them, and from the palm is derived the foot. … mathematicians, on the other hand, contend for the perfection of the number six, because, according to their reasoning, its divisors equal its number: for a sixth part is one, a third two, a half three, two-thirds four, … as the foot is the sixth part of a man’s height, [mathematicians] contend, that this number, namely six, the number of feet in height, is perfect: the cubit, also, being six palms, consequently consists of twenty-four digits. … finding the numbers six and ten perfect, they added them together, and formed sixteen, a still more perfect number. The foot measure gave rise to this, for subtracting two palms from the cubit, four remains, which is the length of a foot; and as each palm contains four digits, the foot will consequently contain sixteen.”

from Marcus Vitruvius Pollio: de Architectura, Book I