Saturday, July 30, 2005

THE FIVE PILLARS (OR ORDERS) OF ARCHITECTURE

As the three steps pertain to the symbolism of the three pillars of the Lodge, the five steps represent the five orders of architecture- the Tuscan, the Doric, the Ionic, the Corinthian and the Composite. But save for the architects who are expected to know these architectural orders, one may ask: “what do those words represent?” We are told that “the Doric, Ionic and Corinthian were invented by the Greeks, and that from there, the Romans added two- the Tuscan, which they made plainer than the Doric, and the Composite which was more ornamental and more beautiful than the Corinthian.” Of course the monitor also said that “the Tuscan is the Doric in its earliest state, and that the Composite is the Corinthian enriched with the Ionic”. Beyond these impressive statements, however, nothing else has been said to describe these orders, and so here is a briefing designed for the non-architects and the uninitiated.

THE ORDERS OF ARCHITECTURE AS TRACED TO THE PAGES OF MERRIAM WEBSTER DICTIONARY

Here is what the Webster dictionary has to say on these orders:

Tuscan - one of the five orders or architecture, devoid of ornaments and having columns that are never fluted.

Doric - the oldest and simplest order of the three orders of Greek architecture characterized by the columns having no base, and the flutings few, large, and not deep, the capital of simple character.

Ionic - one of the five orders of architecture the distinguishing characteristic of which consists in the volutes of its capital.

Corinthian - an architectural order distinguished by fluted columns and capitals adorned with acanthus leaves.

Composite - a term applied to one of the orders (of architecture) because the capital belonging to it is composed out of those of the other orders, exhibiting leaves, volutes, etc.; applied to plants forming a vast order, and having flowers forming dense heads composed of many florets, in the daisy, dandelion, etc.

And so we now have a glimpse of these archaic architectural terms. Here now are additional information.

The orders of architecture which were invented by the Greeks are not really that ancient. Invented at around 800 BC, these are easily predated by the architectural orders that were designed by the ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian engineers. The Egyptians as we know erected their imposing pyramids prior to 2000 BC that till today are still the favorite vacation spots of awestruck tourists; and the Sumerians, progenitors of the Chaldeans, the Phoenicians and the Tyrians, they from whom the two Hirams trace their genealogies and built the magnificent temple of Solomon in 1000 BC, which unfortunately, was erased from the face of the earth by the Babylonians in 586 BC.

But let’s get back to the wordings of the five orders of architecture as mentioned earlier.
The words Tuscan, Doric, Ionic and Corinthian were derived from places of their countries of origin; thus Tuscan was coined from Tuscany in Italy, now famous for its castles and monuments; while the three Greek orders were so named after places in ancient Greece, notably Dorian for Doric, Ionia for Ionic and Corinthian, the order that was inspired by a Grecian city called Corinth. As Composite, the order that the Romans invented, is but a combination of the two architectural orders called Corinthian and Ionic, one may wonder whether this word is but an imitation of the Chinese food called “Chopseuy”, a concoction or a mixture of vegetables taken from here and there!

Now, while monuments to the Tuscan and Composite orders still abound in Italy, the structures dedicated to the three classical orders of architecture have practically vanished as vapor would in the air. The Roman church saw to it that these masterpieces of antiquity were destroyed during their frenzy of eradicating pagan relics during the Dark Ages, these being memorials to pagan traditions and beliefs. And those that managed to remain for posterity to behold were largely because those artifacts were earlier buried and only found recently during archeological excavations and salvaging from the bottom of the seas.

THE EARLY ROOTS OF ARCHITECTURE

From our monitor, we learn that our ancient forefathers already learned to protect themselves from inclement weather by connecting trees thereby keeping themselves dry during the rainy days. This they did by creating bands from top to bottom, a procedure done by imitating or copying the plants that attach themselves to the main tree-trunks that consequently create a dry space within its periphery. We learn that “the bands that connected the trees from top to bottom were said to have given rise to the base and capital of pillars and that from this simple hint proceeded the more advanced art of architecture.” Thus were the ancient columns derived and named, among them the Egyptian papyrus, the Egyptian date-palm and the Persian animal of Iran, columns that predate the three classical Greek columns that were mentioned earlier. These Greek classical columns were also later followed by the Indian foliage and the Indian plain capital, architectural pillars that flourished in that country in 150 BC and 400 AD, respectively.

ADDITIONAL NOTES ON THE FIVE ORDERS OF ARCHITECUTRE

L. Sprague de Camp in his book “The Ancient Engineers” had this to say on the Doric and Ionic columns, applicable paragraphs of which are herein reprinted for the brethren’s information.
“The earlier Greek architects who invented the Greek classical architecture (in 800 BC) developed two styles of temple, distinguished mainly by the shape of the capitals at the tops of the columns. The Doric capital, much used on the Greek mainland, had a simple, bulging, cushion-shaped surface. The supreme example of the Doric Temple was the Parthenon. The Ionic column, first used in (the island of) Ionia, had a more ornate capital, with a pair of spiral ornaments on each side. These spirals, called volutes, are probably derived from some of the leafy forms that the Egyptians gave the tops of their columns. Each style of the temple had elaborate rules of proportion and detail. Doric columns, for instance, were supposed to be about eight diameters tall, while Ionic columns were nine times as tall as their diameter.” In so far as the Corinthian column is concerned, de Camp had this myth to narrate:

“A girl, a native of Corinth, already of age to be married, was attacked by disease and died. After he funeral, the goblets which delighted her when still living, were put together in a basket by her nurse, carried to the monument, and placed on the top. That they might remain longer, exposed to the weather, she covered the basket with a tile. As it happened, the basket was placed upon the root of an acanthus, being pressed down in the middle by the weight, put forth leaves and shoots. The shoots grew up the sides of the basket, and, being pressed down at the angles by the force of the weight of the tile, were compelled to form the curves of the volutes at the extreme parts. Then Calimachus, (famed Greek architect in 500 BC) who for the elegance and refinement of his marble carving was nicknamed “Cathacemus” (meaning artificial) by the Athenians, was passing the monument, perceived the basket and the young leaves growing up. Pleased with the novelty and style of the grouping, he made columns for the Corinthian on this model and fixed the proportions.

In actual fact, the Ionic capital evolved into the Corinthian by gradual stages, by the additions of more and more plant elements. In time, the ornate leafy splendor of the Corinthian diffused about the Greek world. Later, the Romans took it up and spread it from Spain to Lebanon; and men of the Renaissance, loving its showy intricacy, brought it down to the world today.”

In so far as the Roman columns are concerned, de Camp simply said that Rome’s contribution to civilization were its remarkable soldiers, statesmen, administrators, jurists and that the Romans expertise were on civil engineering, that of building roads, aqueducts and bridges, engineering feats that are more useful during conquests. It was no wonder that their architectural skills were of the Etruscan form (Rome’s northern neighbors) or were borrowed from conquered Greek architects who later assimilated their thoughts and ideas and who were later labeled as Hellenistic engineers, and after much intermingling of architectural engineering between its various citizens, consequently produced the plainer Tuscan and the complex and redesigned Composite Orders.
So now the brethren has a bird’s eye view of the five Orders of Architecture. This writer therefore now ends this article but not before acknowledging its source from where this article is greatly indebted, namely:

Mirriam Webster Dictionary, and
The Ancient Engineers by L. Sprague de Camp.

Thank you for taking your time reading this Masonic Education Lecture You’ve reach the bottom page anyway, haven’t you?!

Friday, July 29, 2005

THE THREE PILLARS OF THE LODGE

In the second degree lecture, the first group of steps in the winding stairs lecture represent “Wisdom, Strength and Beauty” and are exemplified by the three elected officers of the lodge, namely, the Worshipful Master and the Senior and Junior Wardens. That will now be the subject of this article.

As backgrounder, these three pillars were first mentioned not in the second degree lecture but in the conferral of the first degree. Portion of the first-degree lecture aptly reads:

“A lodge is metaphorically said to be supported by three great pillars, denominated by Wisdom, Strength and Beauty, it being necessary that there should be Wisdom to contrive, Strength to support, and Beauty to adorn all great and important undertakings. These pillars are represented in the Lodge by the Worshipful Master, and the Senior and Junior Wardens.”

From the foregoing paragraph, it is evident that this symbolic phrase can be interpreted two ways:

1. On the operative standpoint, and

2. On symbolic or allegorical perspective.

THE THREE PILLARS INTERPRETED ON THE OPERATIVE STANDPOINT

We all know that Wisdom, Strength and Beauty are mandatory requirements in the erection of a building. On this, engineers will tell us that a structure should be well-designed, adequately planned and provided with all the required materials and labor to insure that the structure to be built has been well-conceived; that it should stand the tests and ravages of time; and that it should also be the admiration of every age. The Temple of King Solomon built in 1000 BC, fit these requirements, and constructed not in the classical form of the Greeks because Greek architecture flourished only starting at about 800 BC, but with the ingenuity and skills of the Chaldeans, the progenitors of the Phoenicians of ancient times Sadly, King Solomon’s Temple, so magnificent and constructed by celebrated Tyrian artists, was razed to the ground by King Nebuchadnezzar and his cohorts in 586 BC and whatever usable remnants they salvaged were carted away to Babylon and there utilized for their own glory and artistry.

THE THREE PILLARS VIEWED ON A SYMBOLIC PERSPECTIVE

Symbolically, the three pillars represent the three principal officers of a lodge in the same manner it is also called the three lights; and are represented by the Worshipful Master, the Senior and Junior Wardens whose combined tasks is to insure that the Lodge functions effectively.

While it is often said that the Master’s authority and prerogatives are almost absolute and dictatorial, in reality ancient traditions show that he does not govern alone. The services of his two Wardens are required in the effective governance of the lodge. It can be said therefore that it is only in a Masonic Lodge where teamwork and cooperation of all three officers are mandatory in its efficient administration as the symbolism of the pillars, otherwise called as columns, that are made to stand or lie down on the respective tables of the three lights show.

THE THREE MINIATURE COLUMNS (OR PILLARS) ON THE TABLES OF THE LIGHTS

In the Philippine Masonic jurisdiction, one of the set of furniture or emblems of the lodge whose symbolism is hardly given any attention are the pillars that adorn the tables of the three lights of the lodge. Quite often, it is noticed that the Wardens overlook raising or putting down their columns during recess or resumption of meetings. There are also instances when the Senior Warden raises his column even before the lodge is formally opened ignorant that he is not to raise his column until the lodge is formally opened. It is therefore necessary to pose the following questions.

Have the brethren ever noticed the following?

1. That only one pillar is in upright position when the Worshipful Master starts opening his lodge, and

2. That two pillars are in standing position after formal opening and until the lodge is formally closed; with the pillars of the Senior and Junior Wardens alternating during the time the lodge is in labor or in recess?

The hypothetical questions that now need to be answered are as follows:

1. At what precise time should the Master put his pillar in upright position? Note that nowhere in the monitor does it indicate when the Master’s pillar is to be put uprightly. What is its symbolism?

2. What is the symbolism of the Senior Warden’s putting his column in upright position immediately after the Master declares the lodge to be formally opened? Consequently. what is the meaning of the Junior Warden’s putting his column in upright position (and the Senior Warden simultaneously lowering his) when the lodge is in recess? and,
3. Why is the Junior Warden’s column raised during the second section of the third degree conferral?

And here’s another interesting side issue.
At Dagohoy Lodge No. 84 (and also at Mount Moriah Lodge No. 252 when the lion made a fraternal visit to that lodge) he noticed that the Worshipful Master does not have a column at his table. The apparent reason for this (although he did not ask) was that the monitor did not mention that the master has a column at his table! The aging lion could but wonder if this practice is also true in the other lodges outside of the metropolitan jurisdiction.

POSSIBLE ANSWERS TO THE ABOVE-MENTIONED QUESTIONS

This writer admits he has not seen any written document that will support his theories on the answers that he will profound below. At best his answers are solely his interpretations on the possible reasons why these are so. Other jurisdictions may have different rituals whose practices may not conform with what has been said and therefore their indulgence is earnestly requested. They are therefore encouraged to send in their own inputs if they have interpretations other that what are advanced by his writer as shown hereunder.

On Question No. 1

It would be interesting to know how other jurisdictions tackle this piece of ornament in the lodge but in the Philippine monitor, no mention whatever is made as to when the column of the Worshipful Master is raised or lowered. Could the reason be that the Master is bound by his oath always to be “on his toes” until the Master’s gavel is turned over to his successor? This could be an interesting food for thought and probably is an apt reply to the first question.

On a verifiable observation, Temples where several lodges hold meetings naturally gather together all the lodge paraphernalia after each meeting to allow others to assemble theirs when it is their turn to hold their meetings. On lodge rooms that are exclusively used by only one lodge, it would be interesting to know whether the column of the Worshipful Master is ever put in lying position after each meeting!!

On Question No. 2

One of the major fallacies that the incumbent lights fall into is to assume that when committees are formed, the Chairmen of the said committees are the ones directly responsible for the success or failure of the said committees. Take the Sunshine and Refreshment Committees, two committees that are ordinarily chaired by either the Senior Warden or Junior Warden, for example. Some contend that the respective chairmen of these committees are to be held directly accountable when things go awry and consequently deserves the credit when the affair is successful. Those who so believe forgot the simple dictum that while authority can be delegated by the Worshipful Master, responsibility can never be! Remember, the past master’s jewel is awarded to none but the Worshipful Master even if all the activities of the lodge were ably delegated to and performed by his subalterns. Stated bluntly, when the boat sinks, it is always the Captain who is drenched and sinks with the ship and let all the rats swim where they may!

Another clear example is the responsibility on conferrals. Many assume that the first degree conferral is the primary responsibility of the Junior Warden in the same manner the second degree conferral is the main burden of the Senior Warden.
This obviously is not the case. It is the belief of this writer that the Worshipful Master still has that distinct responsibility in seeing to it that the conferral is performed without hitches and that the role of either the Senior or Junior Warden during conferrals are merely procedural, and at best but a training grounds for higher responsibilities which ancient customs and practices dictate.

On Question No. 3

The answer to the final question then is “how come the pillar of the Junior Warden is in upright position during the second section of the third degree ritual when the lodge is not at refreshment?”

And the answer simply is:

But of course it should be so! The candidate, after all, was imitating the Grand Master Hiram Abif,
“whs dt i ws t cl # crf fm lb t rfs at hi twl, wch I # bt # glr % # da.

End of this article!