Last edited 20 Apr 2021

Knotted column

A window of the apse at the Trento Cathedral illustrates a set of knotted columns.

[edit] Introduction

A column is a structural element that transmits load from above to a supporting structure below. The word ‘column’ is associated in particular with elements that have a central shaft that is round in section.

A knotted column is a stone support that is carved in the shape of two or four columns joined by a knot. The knot in the columns is meant to represent various spiritual messages associated with humanity and its relationship to the Holy Trinity.

[edit] History

This architectural treatment was most frequently used during the Romanesque period, although there is some evidence it was also used during the Byzantine era.

Knotted columns are most commonly found in Northern Italy and other parts of Europe. They are often used as supporting structures on the exterior of buildings and in cloisters, but they can also serve a decorative purpose within the building on freestanding structures.

This type of decorative treatment appears on the pulpit of a Romanesque church located near Arezzo in Tuscany. The same motif appears in the central column of the church’s apse.

The pulpit of the Church of San Pietro di Gropina.

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