Question about Terminology


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Question about Terminology

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des. 31, 2006, 2:42 pm

I am working on a project, documenting art in a temple. I am a computer graphics artist, working with a Tibetologist.

We are trying to create terminology to describe the features of a room. Four walls, with a small shrine in the middle. I am wondering if there is standard nomenclature for something like, "the left outward facing wall of the inner shrine", or "the inside surface of the canopy above", etc.

I am familiar with paleontological (anatomical) descriptors, but am wondering how a professional archaeologist would describe the contents of a discovered room and it's contents ( as in, "statue A was discovered something something in relation to this and that")

I imagine cardinal directions is a place to start.....
We are thinking about up and down as zenith and nadir, etc....but I thought I'd check with this group to see if anyone can point me in the correct direction for site description.

Thanks in advance for whatever help you can provide!

gen. 10, 2007, 5:58 pm

For something of fixed position, like a room, the most obvious horizontal reference would be compass directions, since the reader can then refer to a plan drawing as a key - e.g., "on the outside of the northwest wall..."

For up and down, location would normally be given with reference to built features, such as "on the floor", "on the NW wall 2 meters above the floor", "along the top of the roof", etc.

But it depends on shape, since nonrectilinear shapes may be difficult to describe this way, and it also depends on how culturally situated you want the description to be: sometimes certain parts or directions in a structure might have culturally specific names that give them meaning, which have the double effect of giving a more precise and accurate description for those who know the culture and making it harder for those who don't to understand the description.

gen. 11, 2007, 10:29 am

Thanks for the advice, dressel26! We're working it out as we go, and sticking with cardinal directions as our base. The room isn't strictly rectilinear as you say, so we have to make things up a bit. Oh well, I guess that's what my illustrations are for, to clarify that, lol. You make a good point about culturally specific terms. As this is for a scholarly work, probably we'll assume that the people reading will know what they're looking at. But as I'm not the scholar here, I'll advocate at least readying more accessible terminology for a wider audience. Thanks again!

jul. 23, 2007, 7:07 pm

you should look at near eastern temples/greek temples and the terminology there. They have technical names for every aspect you could think of for 4 walls and a idol niche! 2 are cella (inner santuary of temple where idol is located) and pronaos (inner area of temple leading to cella)....not sure if these would be applicable to Tibetan architecture, and I would think they would have their own linguistic structures to define the religious architecture that would be known by the "tibetologist" but if not, look towards the Greeks.