1 Polar cognition is incompatible to the analytical system of thought. The first perceives the environment in harmonious analogies, the other defines objects by analytically judging its characteristics (quality, quantity, etc.)
2 Criterias of the applied 3rd/1st world concept.
3 A grown-up chimpanzee female is building her nest in the crown of a palm-tree (Goodall 1962)
4 Goodall (1962) gives a sketch of how the basic elements used by the subhuman builder are intervowen to form a stable base.
5 Gorillas build ground-nests close to the ground (Bolwig 1959).
6 Izawa and Itani drew the structure of six chimpanzee nests. 5, 7, 8 and 9 are essentially tripods, 6 represents a platform supported by two inclined trees. 4 shows a tree- nest supported partially by a slender tree and by a horizontal piece of thick wood to which the nest is fixed.
7 Goodall (1962) describes various positions of chimpanzees in their nests. There seems to exist a considerable behavioural individualism in basically the same situation.
8 Rain doesn't much bother the animal . Goodall gives this drawing of a chimpanzee sitting in his nest during rain.
9 Different stages of the mother-child relation are reflected in different stages of the nestform (Kawai/Mizuhara 1954).
1 mother and child sleep in the same circular nest
2 the part for the baby forms a bulge.
3 mother- and child-nest are separate but closely located.
4 mother- and child-nest are separated by a certain distance.
10a Horizontal plan of a group of 6 gorilla-nests used during a night camp in mountainous woods (Kawai/ Mizuhara 1959)
A treenest (F2)
10b This horizontal plan was reconstructed vertically so as to give a kind of architects view of the gorilla nesting site. For better view materials not used for construction are cut off. The visual relations among the animals might thus be of lesser importance than the audio relation produced by the working process and the animals voices. Mother and baby are placed in the centre of the group and in an elevated tree-nest. The dominating male is most exposed in his ground-nest. Maybe he protects the access path to the nesting site.
+ mixed nest (bamboo and branches of trees (D3, E2)
x bamboo nest (B2, C3)
o ground-nest (A1)
D dirty (feces; all except female D3)
nD not dirty
h height in meters
11 Distribution of orangutan nests in an area of about 6 km2. The clusters are rather disperse, not clearly related to rivers.
12 Distribution of chimpanzee-nests in the area researched by Izawa and Itani (1966). The clusters are preferably located in the trees of 18-25 m height (steep slopes of valleys).
large dot: 10 nests
small dot: 1 nest
The plates A-F give a selection of the historical and ethnological materials documented as 'semantic architecture'. Detailed description and bibliography will be given in another publication.
B Ancient Near East and Egypt
C Ancient Greece and Rome
D India, China, Korea (Ancient and Recent)
E Ethnology (Africa, Asia, Australia, America
F European folklore
1 Function of semantic architecture based on reconstructions in Japan: territorial demarcation of village territory: A = prehistorical (pre-buddhistic); B = historical Shinto, influenced by Buddhism (with outer and inner torii and Shinto-shrine)
E village entrance way
2a Those who 'make' the sign 'own' it and thus also are 'owners' of the territory
G1 gate at borderline between 'outside' and 'inside'
G2 gate to ritual place
M main sign between dwelling domain and sacred woods representing village territory
T1 outer torii
T2 inner torii
OW outside world
DD dwelling domain (inside world) with rice-fields
SW sacred woods (inaccessible primeval forest)
2b Different forms represent different villages
3a The main sign is instituted by the village founder at the foundation of the village and from then on annually renewed with new materials. The form of the perishable sign can thus be preserved over a considerable period of time. The renewal of the sign is the central function of these rituals. In relation with the house of the village-founder whose representant is priest of the village-cult and chief of the village, it documents the social hierarchy of the settlement.
S sign/symbol in the centre of the annual cult
3b Semantic architecture set at the foundation of settlement defines its layout (coincidence of opposite domains: a natural part is set in polar relation with cultural domains like agricultural fields and space for dwellings. The relations among founderhouse, descendants and later newcomers forms the basis of the local hierarchy.
NA sign creates aesthetic norms of the settlement (coincidence of opposites: harmony)
NS sign creates social norms of the settlement (cult groups and social hierarchy: founder)
NR sign creates ritual norms of the settlement (cyclic time concept)
G foundation of village
E first renewal
En n-th renewal
4 Binding thin linear elements to form a bundle always creates geometry!
5 The sign defines front and back and a central axis with an mobile empty upper part and a compact and stable lower part. The sacred rope marks the centre where the opposites 'coincide'
6 Reconstruction of structural and formal analogies provided by the principle of >coincidence of opposites<. Though the semantic function of the signs requests differenciation, they all obey to the principle of harmony of opposite categories and thus show a formal system of unity and difference at the same time.
Coincidence of opposites is the formal and spiritual principle which unites all forms. (C) The lower part is closely fixed to the ground. In some cases the upper part is called tenkai, meaning 'canopy of heaven'
d The object is one but shows two contradictory elements. With the rope three elements form a unity.
e If the sign is burnt, the fire forms the upper part whith similar categories.
f Coincidence: way and place
g Schematic representation of different categories:
natural - technical
8 Coincidence of opposites among territorial signs as cognitive principle. An 'artificial' tree which is built in the region surveyed lead to an interesting hypothesis for the cultural perception (or the 'discovery'!) of the natural tree (and natural objects in general). The multi-categorial structure of 'coincidence of opposites' with which the semantic builder is familiar is transferred to the natural tree, first in the function as a territorial marker (tree- cult!), then in a general sense.
not defined - defined
empty - compact
many - one
mobile - fixed
9 What correponds to the principle of 'coincidence of opposites' and thus expresses harmony was of highest value since the beginnings of Japanese art-history.
V categories related to 'heaven', like upper, light, dynamic, light, empty, limitless
A categories related to 'earth', like lower, stable, linear, technical, defined
1 many vessels of the Jomon period (~8000 - 400 -/) show flame-like decorations of unknown meaning in their upper part. In contrast to this, the lower part is usually cylindrical and shows a regular basketry-like texture.
2 The Kofun- (tumulus) period (3rd to 7th century /-) shows many clay models of houses with symbolically hipped roofs (irimoya; National Museum, Tokyo)
3 Haniwa (decorated clay-cylinders set up around tombs) of the kinugasa type (Okayama-region), formed like a kind of umbrella with the symbolic meaning of the heavenly canopy. Such umbrellas usually made of precious textiles are used widely in processions to mark important persons or sacred objects (Tokyo-Univ., archeological department).
4 There are many large and small tombs of early Japanese emperors and their relatives (Kofun period, 3rd to 7th century /-) in the region around Nara-City. Many of them show a particular form which is not known in China. They resemble the form of a key-hole, that is to say they are composed of a round tumulus and a rectangular or slightly conical part.
5 gable-view of shrine-roof (Ise-style; Kotaijing˛ betsuk˛ aramatsuri no miyash™den; acc. to Fukuyama)
B Forms found in the region surveyed by the author.
C Forms found in other parts of Japan (plates based partially on Japanese folklore literature on festivals, partially on field work of the author).
Script seems to have its origins from semantic architecture. Different cultures show very similar prototypes!
1 Earliest Sumerian signs from Uruk/Warka (acc. to Falkenstein 1936)
2 Early Sumerian signs (Jemdet-Nasr/Kisch, acc. to Langdon 1928)
3 Cretan-Minoan signs (acc. to Evans 1909/1952, 1921)
4 Signs scratched on bones in China. Shang-period (1500- 1000 -/)
1 The concept of >Buildings in the building<, or of accumulation is reflected in an example of the traditional architecture of the Ainu in the north of Japan. The drawing shows how various elements accumulated and formed a harmonious whole:
RF shape of roof (outline only) imported from traditional Japanese farmer-house house. Early type: Yayoi pit- dwellings
2 The accumulated whole provides various polar domains (coincidence of opposites):
TP1+2two tripods lifted on beam. Origin: Ainu hunter's hut.
SW sacred window defined by two forched pillars provided with inau-kike (sign for sacred objects)
SF sacred fire. Original concept: small building of grasses or wood can burn, then forms coincidence with light, warmth, movement, life.
E main entrance defined by two forched pillars provided with inau-kike and protected by two further signs.
SM sacred mountains (upper part inaccessible for humans)
SA sacred fence consisting of 4 main altars indicating different domains related to hunting (bear), fishing (waters) and collection of plants ('standing vegetables and trees) and dwelling (ancestors)
SP sacred pillar erected at bear festival to attach wild bear. Tip marked by fresh bamboo-leaves and inau.
HG house god, male (chise koro kamui, verbally: house owner god; the Ainu delegate property to their sacred signs)
FG fire goddess, female (kamui fuchi), her 'territory' within the house, the hearth, is marked by her particular sign; note complementarity with house-god
RI river, provides axial direction for the house (line from hearth to sacred fence is parallel to river, sacred fence towards holy mountains)
O sea, ocean
lower <-----> upper
3 The sacred signs (inau) of the Ainu play an important role in defining use and value of spatial domains of the house and the environment. They mark the borderline between two different domains (nature, culture). During rituals they are the centre of gift exchange between polar domains (nature and culture). With this system of 'coincidence of opposites' the Ainu structure all their activities (dwelling, hunting, fishing, collecting). The sacred signs are the symbolic models of their world-view (similar like the Chinese Yin- Yang-symbol). Thus, house and environment are essentially an accumulation of semantic and domestic architectural elements.
1 human, normal / non-human (sacred bear), non-normal
2 closed, covered / open,
center / periphery,
limited / non-limited
3 close to human domain / close to sacred domain
4 human / non-human
5 cultural domain / natural domain
4 Schematic representation of the concept of >buildings in the building<, or accumulation. The elements A, B, C, D, E are originally independent elements which have accumulated through time. Thus the 'house' is not a functional totality but shows its composite character. E. g. the fire (E) in this concept is an independent construction of its own which entered the house in a secondary development. Similarly the windows and the door can be considered as independent structures.
A roof as independent structure (the origininal hut)
B walls might have developped in the context of pit dwellings covered with a roof and later - in arid regions - might have lost their organic roofs.
C windows: many traditional houses show the independent treatment of windows as 'buildings in the building'
D door: it marks the transition from outer space into domestic space. In many architectural traditions it has a very independent character as a building of its own.
E fire: many traditional societies with very little domestic outfit (e.g. Australian aborigines) built fires in the open air. It thus marks a temporary place of social
gatherings. Further its structure (wooden 'hut' and flames) fits the concept of coincidence of opposites or polar harmony!
Back to main text
Back to Homepage