:"Bucranium" is also a spider genus (Thomisidae).Bucranium (plural bucrania) is the Latin word for the skull of an ox. It is also an architectural term used to describe a common form of carved decoration in Classical architecture, used to fill the metopes between the triglyphs of the frieze of Doric temples. A bas-relief or painted decor consisting of a series of ox-skulls draped or decorated with garlands of fruit or flowers was a Roman motif drawn from marble altars, which have survived in some number; the motif was also later used on Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassical buildings. It is generally considered to be a reference to the practice of garlanding sacrificial oxen, the heads of which were primitively displayed on the walls of the temples, a practice with a long history reaching back to the sophisticated Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük in eastern Anatolia, where cattle skulls were overlaid with white plaster.

A rich and festive Doric order was employed for the Basilica Aemilia on the Forum Romanum at Rome; enough of it was standing for Giuliano da Sangallo to make a drawing, c 1520, reconstructing the facade ("Codex Vaticano Barberiniano Latino" 4424); the alternation of the shallow libation dishes called "paterae" with bucrania in the metopes reinforce the solemn sacrificial theme.With time, during the sixteenth century, the connection with sacrifices faded and bucrania became part of a decorative vocabulary that evoked "Roman-ness".

In serious, visually literate contexts, the presence of bucrania always signifies that the Doric order is the organizing principle, but in a first-century fresco from Boscoreale, protected by the eruption of Vesuvius and now at the Metropolitan Museum, bucrania and cistae mysticae hang on ribbons from pegs that support garlands, evoking joyous "fasti".


* [http://www.vitruvius.be/aemilia.htm Francis Brenders, "The Basilica Aemilia on the Forum Romanum at Rome]
* [http://wings.buffalo.edu/AandL/Maecenas/rome/ara_pacis/ac882609.html Garlanded bucrania on the Ara Pacis]
* [http://www.lookingatbuildings.org.uk/default.asp?Document=2.30&
] Doric order with bucrania between triglyphs
* [http://www.romeartlover.it/Glossary.html#bucranium Garlanded bucrania on the Tomb of Cecelia Metella]
* [http://www.s110120695.websitehome.co.uk/SNG/sng_reply2.php?crit_stat=Rubi&crit_imag=on&crit_orde=fld_Ruler&crit_blok=20&crit_disp=sum Sylloge Nummorum Gracorum: Rubi] : obols with garlanded bucrania on reverse

Further reading

*George Hersey, 1988. "The Lost Meaning of Classical Architecture: Speculations on Ornament from Vitruvius to Venturi", (MIT Press) Chapter 2: "Architecture and Sacrifice"

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  • Bucranium — Bu*cra ni*um, n.; pl. L. {Bucrania}. [L., fr. Gr. ? ox head.] A sculptured ornament, representing an ox skull adorned with wreaths, etc. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • bucranium — /byooh kray nee euhm/, n., pl. bucrania / nee euh/. (in classical architecture) an ornament, esp. on a frieze, having the form of the skull of an ox. Also, bucrane /byooh krayn /. [1850 55; < LL bucranium < Gk boukráni(on) an ox head, equiv. to… …   Universalium

  • bucranium — noun The head of an ox. On the second side of the gem, we see the victim, a running goat, and on the third side the symbol of sacrifice, the bucranium …   Wiktionary

  • bucranium — n. carved ornament of a ox skull decorated with garlands or wreaths (also bucrane) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • bucranium — bu·cra·ni·um …   English syllables

  • bucranium — …   Useful english dictionary

  • Bucranium taurifrons — Bucranium taurifrons …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Bucranium (genus) — Taxobox name = Bucranium taurifrons image caption = image width = 250px regnum = Animalia phylum = Arthropoda classis = Arachnida ordo = Araneae subordo = Araneomorphae familia = Thomisidae genus = Bucranium genus authority = O. P Cambridge, 1881 …   Wikipedia

  • Bucrania — Bucranium Bu*cra ni*um, n.; pl. L. {Bucrania}. [L., fr. Gr. ? ox head.] A sculptured ornament, representing an ox skull adorned with wreaths, etc. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • bugrane — [ bygran ] n. f. • 1545; lat. bucranium → bucrane ♦ Plante épineuse (légumineuses), à fleurs roses ou jaunes, appelée aussi arrête bœuf. ● bugrane nom féminin (bas latin bucranium) Papilionacée épineuse des champs, aux longues et solides racines… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

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