CONTINUED

30 This aspect is dealt with in details in a former article: N. Egenter: Omihachiman - The Foundation of a Town; an Ethno-historical Model. Paper for the International Symposium >Traditional Dwellings and Settlements in a Comparative Perspective< 7. - 10. 4. 1988, Center for Environmental Design Research, Univ. of California, Berkeley; In: Traditional Dwellings and Settlements, Working Paper Series vol. IV, 1-15, : 45-68, 1989, Berkeley

31 In the introduction to his translation of the >I Ging - The Book of Changes< (Dźsseldorf, Cologne, 1960), Richard Wilhelm related the origins of Yin-Yang to the Chinese term >Tai Gi< "which in fact means 'ridge-beam'". We would have to search for it in prehistoric Chinese times. There we find 'semantic architecture' carved on bones as the origins of Chinese script! The top, or 'ridge' of these signs corresponds exactly to our ethnographic examples of built signs. The upper part is natural, not clearly defined, protruding over the lower part. The ridge was not yet a beam of a sheltering roof at that time! It was the upper part of semantic architecture! And in its relation to the stable lower part of the structure this mobile top was the beginning of Yin-Yang thought? Our hypothesis seems to pass the test! For the relation of polarity and spatial concepts in China see H. Kšster: Symbolik des chinesischen Universismus. Hiersemann, Stuttgart, 1958

32 In general cultural anthropologists take the perception of natural objects for granted. E.g. the science of religion took tree-cults or the veneration of nature in general as 'primitive' expressions of belief (animism). But this might be an illusion! Of course natural objects like e.g. trees were always part of subhuman and human environments, but the anthropological question is: how were elements of the natural environment perceptively and conceptionally integrated into cultural awareness? Semantic architecture provides a structural model (N. Egenter: The Sacred Trees Around Goshonai, Japan. A contribution of building ethnology to the subject of tree worship. Asian Folklore Studies XL-2:191-212, Nagoya 1981).

33 This can best be given with a formula:


V1     V2     V3   DIFFERENT OBJECTS ARE IDENTICAL OR
-- = -- = -- ANALOGOUS IN VIEW OF THE DIS/HARMONIOUS
A1 A2 A3 RELATION OF THEIR CONTRASTING PARTS


1, 2 and 3 are basically any kind of objects. A and V represent opposed categories or combinations of such. Harmonious thought can take different objects (1,2,3) as identical, because their categorical structure is analogous. It is clear that objects of any dimension (from micro- to macrocosm) and function can be interpreted as harmonious, thus of equal value. Negation in this system is the >anomy< (Durckheim) of the reversal of the traditional (tectonic or horizontal) relation of V and A.

34 See N. Egenter: Kunsthistorische Architekturtheorie: Auf Sand gebaut (The art historian's architectural theory - built on sand; an approach towards architectural-anthropological semantics). In: Umriss 1+2/1984, Vienna

35 Etymology is a rich field of sources for architectural anthropology (see e.g. Rud. Meringer: Etymologien zum geflochtenen Haus [Etymologies related to the woven house], Festgabe fźr R. Heinzel, In: Abhandlungen zur germanischen Philologie, Halle A.S., Max Niemeyer 1898)

36 See Egenter: Kunsthistorische Architekturtheorie: Auf Sand gebaut. op. cit; and N. Egenter: Architectural Anthropology - Outlines of a constructive human past. In: International Semiotic Spectrum (Toronto Semiotic Circle) No. 14 1990.

37 We do not go into a detailed discussion here. This will be done in another paper, but it is obvious that the introduction of constructivity into the problem of hominisation will bring up new discussions. For terrestrial nests present-day apes use rooted materials. Only for grass-heaps (so called 'siesta-nests' made during the day) do they pull out surrounding grasses and heap them up to upholster the ground. Consequently, most nest constructions are limited to places where suitable materials (e.g. bamboo) are growing. At the same time, the stability of ground nests is guaranteed by roots. This changes greatly if materials are cut, e.g. using pebble tools. Thicker materials can be used for larger constructions with variable groundplans, and also for differentiation of static and coating materials. The foundation of static elements has to be provided artificially (staking); joints must become more elaborate. The site of construction becomes independent of the place of collection of materials. Different materials from different places can be combined into the same structure. With dislocated materials the differentiation of tools is also implied (cutting stalks, branches, stems; pointing sticks and poking them into the ground). These are only a few hints on the implications of early tools if they are related to 'constructivity'. It could give us new answers to essential problems of hominisation and would explain why hominisation increases enormously with the earliest tools. We could also explain why the erect posture of the body (building with rooted plants) precedes other developments related to the constructive differentiation triggered off by tools (building with dislocated plants).

38 In our modern understanding the term 'fire' designates the 'element', the flame with its qualities of light, heat etc. Analytical thought does not include the material or the fact that we have to 'build' a fire, that it burns only under certain 'architectonic' conditions. If we look at it with the 'Third World' concept of >coincidence of opposites< its technical and spiritual parts become a polar unit. The discovery of fire might have greatly contributed to the evaluation of polar philosophy, particularly if one considers the complex positive and negative aspects of fire! We could further assume what farmers generally know, namely that fermented grasses tend to catch fire. This is a plausible new explication for the 'discovery' of fire. Were the origins of fire related to 'semantic architecture'?

39 Compare K. Narr's critical analysis of the prehistorical >man the toolmaker concept< with the >Technology and Ergology in Ethnology< (K. Narr: BeitrŠge der Urgeschichte zur Kenntnis der Menschennatur, in: H.G. Gadamer und P. Vogler (ed.): Neue Anthropologie, vol. 4 >Kulturanthropologie<, dtv-Wissenschaft, Mźnchen 1973; W. Hirschberg et. al: Technologie und Ergologie in der Všlkerkunde, op. cit.). The ethnological concept of primitive tools and devices include many types of baskets, nets, traps, fences etc. for various functions and often with clearly tectonic character.

40 See N. Egenter: Kunsthistorische Architekturtheorie: Auf Sand gebaut, op. cit. and N. Egenter: The evolution of Japanese Art from agrarian cult-traditions. Paper read at the 12th International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences; Section ethnology and architecture, Zagreb, 24-31 July 1988 (in press)

41 The concept of the settlement founder line with its semantically recorded dominance over the local territory explains the formation of social hierarchy (king and priest).

42 The assumption of ephemeral models in the conceptualisation of natural form (e.g. trees, animals; see N. Egenter, Bauform als Zeichen und Symbol, op. cit.) could explain the early appearance of imaginary styles in the art of many cultures.

43 Another hypothesis: Were mythical trees and animals originally artefacts (semantic architecture)? Is the wide-spread symbolic relation of (natural) snake and (natural) tree a reminder of the originally functional relation between artificial 'tree' (semantic architecture) and an (artifical) 'snake', the constructive condition of the whole, the 'sacred' rope? In other terms: the existential relation between Symbol and Diabol?

44 See N. Egenter: The Master of the Wilderness, the Bear, lives in the upper Part of our Home - House and World-view of the Ainu. Paper read at the Third International and Interdisciplinary Forum of Built Form and Culture Research, 9 - 12 Nov. 1989, The School of Architecture, the Department of Anthropology and the Hispanic Research Center at Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona (in press); G. RŠnk: Das System der Raumeinteilung in den Behausungen der nordeurasischen Všlker; ein Beitrag zur nordeurasischen Ethologie. 2 vols. Stockholm 1949/51

45 See W. Mźller: Die Heilige Stadt, Stuttgart 1961.

46 In his interesting study on the Definition of Place among the Australian aborigines, Amos Rapoport concluded that domestic architecture (shelter) was irrelevant in 'place making'. But this statement is the result of his conventional interpretation of architecture ('shelter thesis'). The 'holy pillars' which are important in place-making, are considered merely as 'monuments'. In our view they belong to 'semantic architecture'. Though on a lower level, architecture would thus be used for territorial demarcation. In this perspective Rapoport may have described an interesting state where semantic architecture was the essential instrument for place making, when the level of 'primitive huts' had not yet been reached and the shelters might have accumulated from outside. A re-study from the standpoint of architectural anthropology is considered (see A. Rapoport: Australian Aborigines and the Definition of Place. In: P. Oliver (ed.) Shelter, Sign and Symbol, London 1975)

47 In the subhuman line, tradition is practically absolute and stereotype. The more external potentials accumulate, the more tradition becomes open. Opposed to change are conditions of reliability of construction and form and, later, the cyclic concept of time. Within the semantic field the perishable materials and the small size of the buildings are favourable to the development of cyclic concepts of time. These become particularly important in sedentary societies on account of the topological character of semantic architecture. Thus the tremendous continuity within the field of semantic architecture can only be understood in association with the cyclic time concepts it produces: our linear history has buried cyclic time, and particularly its completely different concept of 'originality'. In traditional societies with cyclic time concepts the content of tradition was original, proven and true, because it represented the origin of the settlement and conditioned its present. This is the reason why traditional society shows only very little progress. Cyclic time is bound to its origins, it does not seek change. The concept of originality is not related to the individual subject, but to the origins that have conditioned the present. If, for example, historians of art speak of traditional folk art in a pejorative sense as being stereotype and having no 'originality', this shows that they are fixed on linear history and the profanised concept of the Renaissance-creator. Tradition is methodologically important in our concept. Owing to this enormously dominating strength of tradition, systematic reconstructions are possible without written history. We have to take into account that certain criteria (round form, semantic quality, polarity of form, ornamental indications of origins) retain a high degree of continuity through the anthropological continuum and exert some influence from each phase to the following one. Prehistorians have neglected the importance of object tradition. With stable environmental conditions, it can show tremendous continuity over hundreds, even thousands of years, even millions in the subhuman domain! This complex of cyclic perception of time and tradition will be dealt with in another study (Egenter: >Linear and Cyclic; How History misunderstood Tradition< 1990).

48 Regarding the roof, see G. Domenig: Tektonik im primitiven Dachbau. ETH Zźrich 1980. Domenig shows that immanent semantic ideology was part of structural developments.

49 This is particularly interesting in relation to A. Rapoport's >House Form and Culture< (Prentice-Hall , Englewood-Cliffs 1969). He interpreted house form basically as a unit which expressed essentially socio-cultural factors and responded to ergological and climatic conditions as modifying factors. In contrast to this, house-form might be interpreted more from its composite character. It might embrace several relatively independent traditions in the anthropological perspective, involving the roof, the pillars, the walls, the entrance, the doors, furniture, etc. as individual units having accumulated through long periods. Ananalysis of the house becomes much more complex than previously assumed.

50 Here some critical remarks are called for (see: J. P. Bourdier and N. AlSayyad (ed.): Dwellings, Settlements and Tradition; Cross-Cultural Perspectives. Berkeley / Lanham / London 1989). Ismet Khambatta presents a kind of architectural 'New-Age-Mysticism'! The main problem of her article >The Meaning of Residence in Traditional Hindoo Society<: she does not clearly distinguish between history and tradition. She describes ritual traditions related to house-building, but derives their meaning from the interpretation of historical texts. Further, her house-examples are either reconstructions based on historical hints or urban house-types of Ahmedabad (500 years old!). Thus, to bridge the conflicts between the "metaphysical ideas" in the "Hindoo great Tradition" and the local tradition she extensively uses Eliade's theologically founded concept based on >hierophania< (revelation), which pleads for a primary macrocosm and derived microcosm. This means reversing the true order of development! "In the rituals of construction the householder is identified with Vastupurusa-Prajapati", the "cosmic man" and "progenitor" of the house, she maintains and explains the social role of the founder of the house by identifying him with the creator of the universe! Purusa is the "manifest form" of 'Brahman', "the Supreme Principle". Obviously Ismet Khambatta has never heard of Jarl Charpentier's linguistic, exegetic and religio-historical study 'Brahman' which shows that the original meaning of this "Supreme Principle" corresponds to our concept of >semantic architecture<. Mainly following Benfey, Haug and Hillebrandt, who etymologically identified brahman- with baresman-, the designation for the avestical Barsom-Symbol made of grasses or twigs, Charpentier brings many convincing arguments to support this assumption. It would mean that the "central metaphysical ideas" of the "Hindoo great tradition" would have to be looked for in the human tradition (See J. Charpentier: Brahman. Eine sprachwissenschaftlich-exegetisch-religionsgeschichtliche Untersuchung. Uppsala 1932). Similarly Gunawan Tjahjono. He derives his concept from a kind of palace-philosophy. No doubt, his article >Centre and Duality in the Javanese Dwelling< is very interesting. He manages to show how 'duality' reigns in the vertical and horizontal elements of Javanese architecture. Particularly the location of the wayang performance between the closed omah or dahlem and the open hall (pendopo) is remarkable with its coordination of male spectators and open realism and women spectators who are placed at the side of the closed house, looking at the shady reflections. But it is not palace-philosophy that is at the root of this system; obviously, the nucleus of the whole is again 'semantic architecture', the kayon, the >tree of life< in the centre of the wayang- theatre with its dualistic forces of good and bad, which are reflected in the puppets and the structure of the play (In this conclusion I am very much obliged to Matthew Cohen, a specialist in wayang-theatre with whom I had important communications). In this context it would be interesting to compare preserved village traditions with the theatre of the palaces. E. Pavlides and J. Hesser follow the same pattern. Though it is a remarkable fact that there is ritual continuity within architectural change (isolated Eressos and urban Epidaurus having similar cultic traditions) and though that architects' field-work into religion and rites related to house and community is relatively new, the way this is done is nevertheless rather outdated in this case! The main problem of this contribution is its obstinate religious interpretation of what it finds. E.g. Hastings' Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics is full of such theologically pre-interpreted descriptions, similarly generalised by global comparisons. From an architect we would like to hear WHERE EXACTLY (where in the yard, on the top of which doors etc.) these obviously primeval representations against the evil eye are set up. We would expect questions such as: what do dried flowers, laurel leaves and marital wreaths have to do with the iconostasi; are they the pre-Christian counterpart of the icon? What does the flower wreath have to do with the door on the first of May? For comparison, what kind of house-shrines did the ancient Greeks have and what kinds of similar rituals are historically known? Why are there just two sacred places, the shrine near the eastern corner and the door? Door and place, is this not pre-religious architectural anthropology? Are these customs fragmentary left-overs of a time when most Greeks still lived in huts and had their 'genius loci' made with such vegetable materials? At least some glimpses into one of those marvellous encyclopedias and specalist's dictionaries giving detailed philological or archaeological evidence would be eye-openers in regard to such questions (in German e.g. Pauly/Wissowa: Real EncyclopŠdie der klassischen Altertumswissenschaften 1894ff.). In other words: just citing du Boulay and Raglan a little is not enough, particularly if we speak of Greece! Just warming up religion leads to contradictions of which Pavlides/Heeser give themselves the proof in their final discussion: it is certainly not the task of the architect to revive religion with architecture; but if he manages to understand the anthropological implications of architecture beyond religious rites (way and place, outside and inside, door and bed, with all the implications of these polar structures), architectural research might become creative again: Why did Renaissance architecture give so much meaning to the entrance? Were our curtain- wall- glass- doors 'anthropo-logically wrong'? Further, in view of the book-title 'Dwellings, Settlements and Tradition<, Botond Bognar's contribution is very inappropriate. The materials presented correspond basically to what is found in Japanese school- and tourist-guide-books on the (art historian's) history of architecture. It has nothing to do with 'tradition' in the ethnological sense. "Nothingness" is a term of esoteric Buddhism, thus of history. The term 'Japanese House' in the title is misleading; what Bognar presents is basically a history of Japanese 'palace-architecture'. Not a single word about the enormously rich Japanese minka- research. The informed reader looks in vain for names such as Kenji Ishihara and his lavishly illustrated 9-volume work on >The architecture of the Japanese Farmhouse< (Nihon Nomin Kenchiku, 1972), or Wajiro Kon and his well-known >The popular Japanese House< (Nihon no minka, 1943), or about Motoharu Fujita's >The History of the popular Japanese House< (Nihon Minka-shi 1928), or Tsuyoshi Ogura's >The popular House of Northern Japan< (Tohoku no minka, 1955) or Hisatsugu Sugimoto's >Research into the Popular Japanese House< (Nihon minka no kenkyu, 1969). A glance into any one of these books would have shown that vernacular architecture in Japan is of a very differentiated nature. Bognar only mentions it in one sentence, just to explain the "refined poverty" of the elegant sukiya-style residences of the urban elites! For the rest the article is full of mistakes and platitudes (e.g.: except official, Shinto is not a "belief" but essentially a tradition of local cult-festivals; or: "...indigenous Shinto religion ... centers around the worship of nature..." Level of Sunday journalism! Further, Botond Bognar obviously derives his 'insights' from museal examples like the Katsura Imperial Villa. Otherwise, how could he say that there is no clear distinction between the sacred and the profane in the Japanese house! He obviously did not understand the polar and cyclic character of Japanese rituals! In short, this is a misleading study, which harps on the urban and elitarian art historian's (and star-architect's) views! Just WHAT WE DO NOT WANT!

51 A more detailed description of this spatio-temporal structure of the Japanese village is found in N. Egenter: Japanese Rice-Culture - The misjudged philosophy of agrarian prehistory. In Swissair-Gazette, Zurich, 2/1989

52 Sang Hae Lee presented similar structures of Korean settlements. He describes three different levels (Confucian ethics, Feng-Shui and autochthonous cult symbols) but deals only with historically accessible systems. The autochthonous demarcations are only mentioned, he did not do research into the local ritual traditions and how they are related to the protector gods. Thus, unfortunately we hear nothing about the most important thing: the structure of the autochthonous layer of the settlement plan. If recorded ethnographically, the village festivals could teach us a lot about the earliest phase of the settlement layout. But, of course, this would require extended ethnographic field research (See Bourdier/ Alsayyad (ed.): Dwellings, Settlements and Tradition, op. cit..

53 J. Kerschensteiner: Kosmos. Quellenkritische Untersuchungen zu den Vorsokratikern. Mźnchen 1962

54 See N. Egenter: Le primitif historique et le primitif dans l'anthropologie culturelle. /Il primitivo storico ed il primitivo nell'anthropologia culturale (The historical primitive and the Primitive of Cultural Anthropology; in: Gian-Carlo Cataldi (ed.) >LE RAGIONI DELL'ABITARE<, ALINEA editrice, Firenze, 1988. This gives an essayistic account of architectural anthropology in relation to recent architectural theory. Further, N. Egenter: Le style a l'Origine de la Naissance des Facades Quadrillees - les doubles Racines de la Forme tectonique (The birth of Curtain Walls from the Spirit of Style; paper read at the 10th conference IAPS, TU-Delft 5.-8. July 1988). This criticises the art historian's method of style for having caused the eclecticism of the 19th century and confronts it with Nietzsche's esthetic theory (tension between the >Apollonian< and the >Dionysian<). Different styles become analogous in their expression of >harmony of opposites<. Similarly N. Egenter: Architecture, Movement, Mind. Paper read at the opening of the Architectural Summer School at Motovun, Istria, Yougoslavia on the 8th of July 1989). See also N. Egenter: Magritte als Architekturologe (Rene Magritte as 'architecturologist' - So-called 'Surrealism' and the meaning of built environments) In: 'archithese' 3/90, 1990


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