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Hermeneutics of Sacred Architecture. Lindsay Jones Harvard University Press 2000. A. Architecture as Orientation. 1. Homology: Sacred architecture that presents a miniaturized replica of the universe and/or conforms to a celestial archetype.

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hermeneutics of sacred architecture

Hermeneutics of Sacred Architecture

Lindsay Jones

Harvard University Press


a architecture as orientation
A. Architecture as Orientation
  • 1. Homology: Sacred architecture that presents a miniaturized replica of the universe and/or conforms to a celestial archetype.
  • 2. Convention: Sacred architecture that conforms to standardized rules and/or prestigious mythicohistoric precedents
  • 3. Astronomy: Sacred architecture that is aligned or referenced with respect to celestial bodies or phenomena
a 1 homology
A. 1. Homology
  • Architectural expressions of hierophany or an earthly manifestation of “the sacred”.
  • Architectural imitations of celestial precedents or “archetypes”.
  • Architectural expressions of imago mundi, or cosmographic ordering.
  • Architectural expressions of axis mundi, or the symbolism of the center.
a 2 convention
A. 2. Convention
  • Architectures that conform to universalistic principles and proportions that are (considered to have been) derived from largely empirical observations of the natural world.
  • Architectures that conform to axoimatic stipulations that are (considered to have been) delivered by divine revelation or decree.
  • Architectures that conform to precedents that are (considered to have been) established by prestigious historical and/or mythical presence.
a 3 astronomy
A. 3. Astronomy
  • Astroarchitectural references, when coordinated with other orientational strategies, can substantially enhance the appearance of harmony and conformity to a generalized world order, and thus enhance the legitimacy – and allure – associated with a specific ritual-architectural circumstance.
  • Ritual-architectural choreographers may, on occasion, find ways to capitalize on some predictable sky phenomenon as a means for strategic scheduling of a ceremony.
Astroarchitectural orientations – which work, in a sense, to incorporate sky phenomena into the ritual context – can likewise substantially enhance the presentation and apprehension of meanings that bear on each of four commemorative elements:
    • Commemorations of Divinity
    • Commemorations of Sacred History
    • Commemorations of Sociopolitical Concerns
    • Commemorations of the Dead
b architecture as commemoration
B. Architecture as Commemoration
  • 1. Divinity: Sacred architecture that commemorates, houses, and/or represents a deity, divine presence, or conception of ultimate reality.
  • 2. Sacred History: Sacred architecture that commemorates an important mythical, mythicohistorical, or miraculous episode or circumstance.
3. Politics: Sacred architecture that commemorates, legitimates, or challenges socioeconomic hierarchy and/or temporal authority.
  • 4. The Dead: Sacred architecture that commemorates revered ancestors and/or other deceased individuals or groups.
b 1 commemoration of divinity
B. 1. Commemoration of Divinity
  • Personification or divinization of natural “architectural” features of the landscape.
  • Architecture that is conceived as the actual body of a deity.
  • Architecture that is conceived as an abode, residence, or house of a deity or divine presence.
  • Architecture that is conceived as a built expression of the attributes of a divinity.
b 2 commemoration of sacred history
B. 2. Commemoration of Sacred History
  • Architectural configurations that serve as the stage-setting or backdrop for the reenactment of notable mythic, historic, and/or miraculous episodes.
  • Ritual-architectural commemorations of cosmogony.
  • Ritual-architectural commemorations of mythicohistorical episodes or occurences.
  • Ritual-architectural commemorations of mythicohistorical individuals or personages.
  • Ritual-architectural commemorations of mythical places, sites or locations.
b 3 commemoration of politics
B. 3. Commemoration of Politics
  • Ritual-architectural configurations that reflect and perpetuate the prevailing social hierarchy.
  • Ritual-architectural configurations that challenge, undermine, and (maybe) change the prevailing social hierarchy.
  • Ritual-architectural configurations that serve more explicitly governmental functions.
b 4 commemoration of the dead
B. 4. Commemoration of the Dead
  • Architectural configurations that facilitate “bodiless memorializing”.
  • Architectural configurations that serve as the actual embodiment, reactualization, or transmutation of the dead.
  • Architectural configurations designed for the assiduous treatment and accommodation of the physical, bodily remains of the (un)dead.
c architecture as ritual context
C. Architecture as Ritual Context
  • 1. Theater: Sacred architecture that provides a stage setting or backdrop for ritual performance.
  • 2. Contemplation: Sacred architecture that serves as a prop or focus for meditation or devotion.
3. Propitiation: Sacred architecture and processes of construction designed to please, appease, and/or manipulate “the sacred” (however variously conceived).
  • 4. Sanctuary: Sacred architecture that provides a refuge of purity, sacrality, or perfection
c 1 theater
C. 1. Theater
  • Theatric allurement may entail the presentation of dramatic architectural spaces that seduce, affect, or amaze a solitary individual. The more prominent instances of theatric allurement involve carefully scheduled interactions between ritual performers and an audience of onlookers.
  • Dramatic presentational means intensify the effect and/or affect – that is, enhance the “quality of knowledge” – of the information presented in those contexts.
c 2 contemplation
C. 2. Contemplation
  • Ritual-architectural instigation via contemplative modes involves the presentation of architectural configurations and elements that can serve as supports, guides, or perhaps “maps” to some sort of devotional experience.
  • Contemplative modes may serve to express messages with respect to each of the four commemorative elements but in each case the pertinent messages may be:
    • Highly rarified, cerebral, and abstract
    • More plainly educative and even didactic
c 3 propitiation
C. 3. Propitiation
  • Propitiatory ritual uses of standing (already-built) architecture.
  • Architectural construction (or destruction) processes that are themselves conceived as propitiatory ritual:
    • (Re)building for periodic renewal
    • Building as a demonstration of devotion, sacrifice, or offering
    • Building as investment or petition
    • Ritualized destruction and defacement (“unbuilding”)
c 4 sanctuary
C. 4. Sanctuary
  • Requisite preparation of various elements of the ritual-architectural situation:
    • Appropriation of natural “sanctuaries”
    • Preparatory sanctification of apparently ordinary places or human constructions
    • Preparatory sanctification of human ritual actors
  • Sanctuary modes may work with each of the four commemorative factors (divinity / sacred history / politics / the dead)