13b Pattern: Public Secrets

Pattern: Public Secrets These symbols and patterns have a complex history. On the one hand symbols such as crown, sceptre and cross become key elements in the cremonies of both worldy power (kings) and sacred power (popes). In the 19th century, Owen Jones collected such symbols in his Grammar of Ornament. Paradoxically, the most important symbols become so much a part of everyday ornament that they become unnoticed to the untrained eye. Examples are the Irminsul, the world tree of the Teutons, which becomes a decoration over doors in houses; the 7 rays of the sun which begin as 7 snakes in India and become decorations on columns, pavements, furniture and even border decorations on walls; volutes which begin as symbols of the Miulky Way and the female and become used in lamps, furniture and decorations; or the Equinox in astronomy which begins as a mystic knot and becomes ultimately a decoration on gate posts. This is important because it shows that we use our built environments to record our key symbols-- even when often overlook or have forgotten their meaning.