Figures 1-3 are explained in the main text.
Figure 4a-n. Repertory of forms of socio-territorial demarcation signs and sacred symbols (semantic architecture) reproduced annually in the same form in the greater part of 40,000 Japanese villages (some show technologically more evolved ones). The construction techniques correspond to the type described in this paper, using perishable fibrous materials and nearly exclusively the hand as a tool. Forms are dominantly geometrical, hut-like cones, bundled pillars, and decorated poles; but bio- (incl. anthropo-) morphous forms also occur, as well as techno- and cosmomorphous types. Since semantic architecture is independent of the size of the human body, size varies from small types of one or two feet up to tall constructions of more than ten meters height (all signs are drawn in the same scale and based on research of the author or on Japanese folklore literature).
Figure 5a, b. Various examples of rock-drawings of various sites. Some types suggest human figures, but are highly 'stylized'. Other forms hint to weapons, shields, huts? boats, or completely nonidenfiable forms.
Figure 6a-j. Small selection of historically documented 'life-trees' and other symbols: (a) Sumerian symbol of the Goddess Ishtar (reed-bundle), (b) Assyrian 'life-tree', (c)-(g) various representations and reconstructions of the Egyptian Djed-pillar and predynastic sacred huts (acc. to Andrae 1930, 1933), (h) 'Omphalos' of Delphi (acc. to Roscher 1913, 1918), (i) early Greek coins (Baumeister 1885), (j) coin of Byblos (Butterworth). There is a wide literature which shows the great quantity and wide distribution of this type of sign.
Figure 7a-d. A very interesting source material are the earliest scripts of various ancient cultures: (a) Sumerian, (b) Creto-Mycenian, (c) Sumerian-Accadian, (d) Chinese. They were dominantly questioned on their meaning (deciphering), but rarely on their specific forms and characteristics, which are very similar. Particularly in regard to the Sumerian case we have enough arguments (Andrae I933, 1933; Heinrich 1957) to postulate that these signs found on clay tablets in the lowest level of Uruk represent 'semantic architecture' built with fibrous materials. Used as socio-territorial markers by farmers in villages surrounding the early cities, they were copied two-dimensionally on clay tablets by urban priests and stored in the temples for taxing purposes.
Figure 8a, b. Main types found in the region surveyed Most forms are definitely geometrical; they show allusions to anthropo-(male/female), terio-( tree), zoo-(fish, snakes, dragons), techno-(boat) morphous forms. but remain always strongly obliged to the constructive conditions. Important is the distinction of fixed and mobile types: the former permanently mark a particular spot, the latter are transportable, marking the relation between different places. They may change their meaning while being moved from one place to another.
Figure 9a, b. The drawing (a) shows the construction of the above-mentioned pillar type. The means to obtain stability for the building is very primitive. Piles are anchored in the ground. Then a cylindrical filling is produced, and this is covered with the symbolically and traditionally most precious material: reed It is the material which widely covered the plains of the Japanese archipelago when it was settled by early agriculturists. Drawing (b) shows the construction of a mobile high-pillar type.
Figure 10a-c. Two very basic types (9a and b) found in one representative village: hut and pillar types (Egenter 1982). The pillar type is produced in two variations: male (left) and female (right). The interior construction is very similar in all types. The formal difference depends on the way the outer reed is fixed onto the central construction. On the left type the reeds are broken in lhe center to obtain a kind of 'hourglass form'. On the right (male type) the reed stalks are left vertical and unbroken. In the female type the reed stalks protruding above the central massive cylinder are broken down and left hanging.
Figure 11. Hut-and pillar-like types were considered basic in the region surveyed. This was suggested by the assumption of a primary rooted type. The formal difference is just the result of a quantilative difference. The increased diameter of the base transforms the pillar type into a hut-like form (note the 'hourglass' character of both, particularly the former). It is evident thal these forms -produced by a simple grip of the hand - autonomously or technologically create in nuce all the formal characteristics, which we found with more evolved forms of the region surveyed.
Figure 13a, b. (a) shoows the structural expressions of the fixed piliar type. The pillar articu-lates the environmental space into >front< (V) and >back< (H), and into homogenous sides. It further defines a vertical axis (MA). And the main rope and its level (M) articulates the form into an empty, transparent, mobile upper part (OB) and a fixed, technical, massive, well-defined lower part (UN). Evidently proportion is not mathematical or abstract here. The well-balanced form is a product of constructive conditions. Illustration (b) shows proportional conditions of the hut-like type: case (A) and (G) are impossible. In (A) the rope loses its constructive function, and in (G) the upper part becomes unstable, it breaks down. Ideal - he golden section - is (D). Note that the term 'pro-portioned' corresponds verbally to the form: the upper part juts out of a well-defined portion.
Figure 14a, b. (a) The ethnographical survey of such forms provides access to their 'anatomy'. The inner structure can be analyzed in detail. All forms show explicitly the principle of 'coincidence of opposites'. (b) Often later types of symbolism can accumulate with the basic structural symbolism of the signs. In (1) the high pillar carries the most important reed-symbol inversely at its top; this is called Yin-Yang (in-yo). Thus a later system (imported from China) has accumulated to a primary one which is structurally conditioned. In other settlements the capital of the same type can take the meaning of 'sun-wheel' (nichirin). The Sino-Japanese designations show clearly that these accumulations cannot be ancient. In illustration (3) a mobile type of sign has become a mirror, alluding to the imperial sacred symbol. The surface of the mirror is made in a very surprising way: a rectangular bamboo-grid carries a meandering rope with paper-squares hanging.from it. While carrying the symbol, the moving white papers represent the shiny flickering light of the 'mirror'. Here too, technical and material criteria show clearly that this 'primitive' mirror is a later accumulation. A rather original designation is found in the tetrahedric form shown in (4). The rope is called 'moto', origin.
Figure 15. This scheme shows what we called 'structuralsymbolism'. The particular structure of these buildings produces an expression which can be called 'coincidence of opposites'. The upper part is natural, the lower expresses the technique of binding. The upper part is formally unlimited, the lower is clearly, geometrically defined. Often, particularly the light falls into the ears of reed stalks, the upper part is shiny, the lower part becomes dark. The projecting stalks in the upper part are characterized by manyness; the lower part demonstrates a constructed unity marked by the most important sacred rope. In terms of construction the lower part is stable, whereas the upper part is explicitly unstable, mobile. We can best understand the meaning of these signs and symbols if we compare them to the Chinese Yin/Yang, which throughout early Chinese history was a model for the harmonious organization of the human environment.
Figure 17. Detailed research shows clearly that all forms follow the principle of coincidence of opposites. On the other hand there is a considerable formal variety. This corresponds to the principle of individualization and generalization. There is a general - and spiritual - principle, an ideology, which is common to all forms.
Figure 18. The pillars change their meaning completely when they are moved from one to another place. The factual content of the new meaning is of secondary importance; the form makes punctual concessions, but what really counts is the categorial antithesis to the static condition of the sign. Such aspects of this tradition may give us new and inieresting insights into 'irrational' human imaginalion.
Figure 19a, b. (a) The illustration shows a fish. It is called 'namazu', fresh-water catfish. But the form and the way it is made in the context of the other forms of the region tell us its meaning. Formally, it corresponds obviously to the mobile high pillars of the region, fabricated in sloping position supported by a wooden cross. Due to its dynamic function in the ritual, the form was predominantly horizontally interpreted, the lower end lost its static function, became conical, was interpreted as tail, the formal and terminological allusion to the fish, epitome of movement, was perfect. Note the largest part at the left: though it does not at all resemble the head of a fish, it is called 'atama', head. Evidently the homology of movement with the 'pillars' capital part ahead lead to this designation. (b) shows a boat which during the rite is pulled with long ropes from the site where it is constructed to the village sanctuary. Here too, a similar development led to the formation of an explicitly horizontal and dynamic form.
Figure 20. Perception of natural form: the dialogue between the artificial sign of demarcation and natural form is based on categorial analogies. The natural tree shows the same essential categories as the artificial sign. The numerous leaves that form its unclearly defined upper part are mobile and natural, whereas the lower part is massive, clearly defined, nearly geometric, and unshakeably fixed to the ground. In Japan this argument gains ground with the phenomenon of the holy tree in Shinto: it is always marked as being sacred with the same rope that holds the artificial markers together. The natural sacred tree is thus paradoxically a derivation of the artificial sacred tree.
The form of the natural tree reflects back on the demarcation sign: its originally geometrical form moves towards that of an 'artificial tree'. The form of the marker enters into dialogue with the natural tree of the close environment. Mediator is the structural polarity of upper and lower parts. The similar relation of categories like defined/ non-defined, geometrical/ natural, compact/ loose, fixed/ mobile etc. provides the transmitter for the analogy. Phase one implies the annually cyclic renewal of a hut-like type of territorial marker.
Figure 21. We have mentioned above the differentiation into male and female form. In this case of an anthropomophous form, geometry and the characteristics of the built form again dominate enrirely. The gender characteristics are applied in great discontinuity, without any sense for the whole. Curved lines are used for the female body, and the protuding reeds are made to hang like women's hairstyle. No heads, no arms, no legs. There is no perception of the totality of the human form. Evidently the male/female differentiation is a very late accumulation onto these forms. What counts is the formally different representation of two different, but genetically related settlements.
Figure 22a, b. Snake, dragon, or cancer symbolism is found in many villages of the region. (a) shows two markers in female and male relation. The main rope has been transformed into a thick dragon's body, the two facing heads consist simply of two bamboo twigs. What counts is not the form, but the movement of the dragon's head. (b) shows on the left two markers set up in front of the sanctuary, on the right the entrance to the precinct, marked by two flanking trees. Through the year this gate is marked by a thick rope which is considered a big snake (daija). Since the rope has two ends, the snake shows two heads. At the ritual the snake is cut into two pieces - each now a one-headed snake - which are put around the newly made markers. Finally markers and snakes are burnt.
Figure 23. The basic function of these signs is socio-territorial representation. Various forms represent various settlements and their representative social units. There is a tremendous 'semantic behavior' in this region to contrast basic forms or to differentiate details of common forms.
Figure 24. The representative relation between sign and social respectively territorial unit is established by a simple formula: the sign represents those who made it and who handle it ritually.
Figure 25. This pattern describes the dominance of a small rural town foundes in medieval times under the reign of the Shogun Oda Nobunaga over its surrounding agrarian settlements. The lower part shows the outfit and organization of local village festivals. All these villages annually document their loyalty to the superimposed central shrine of the town by constructing their village signs in front of the dominant shrine (see Egenter 1989b).
Figure 26. The diachronic implications of these signs and symbols are shown in this diagram ( to read from bottom up). The first settler made the first sign in a region which was not yet inhabitated. The farmer builds his house, and has children; his descendants settle near his house to form the first part of his village. The founder has power over his descendants, and, later, peasants. The village is therefore hierarchically structured into a dominant class of landowners and later newcomers.
Figure 27. Schematic representation of a typical pre-Buddhist and prehistorical settlement arrangement in Japan. The reconstruction is based on historical and ethnological sources.
Tectonic 'transcendence': the hilly wooded area behind the demarcation is taboo for humans. It is the wild, the pre-cultural condition, which hints also at the high age of the settlement. It is the spiritual area, antithetical and harmoniously opposed to the lower area. Demarcation area with main marker and two symmetrically posed entrance markers. In the sacred precinct the renewal rites are performed. Dwelling domain with farmhouse (schematic plan) in their position along the main axis of the settlement. This main street is also the main public space for extended rites and ecstatic processions. Paddy fields below the settlement. The entrance to the village is characterized by a couple of semantic markers. The outer dimension of the local world.
Figure 28. Diachronicaliy, the cyclically renewed socio-territorial demarcation sign repre-sents its own continuity from the act of settlement foundation to the present. At the same time it also represents the continuity of the particular social and spatial structure of the settlement, and, of course, the ritual continuity to which it owes its existence in the present. It is evident that the sign is thus a pars pro toto of the whole settlement and its traditional social spatial, and ritual order. Most of the ecstatic behavioral patterns related to such rites, formerly considered 'irrational', become quite reasonable: the categories of human behavior follow those of the sign. Chaos, ecstatic movements, drunkenness, etc. break out among the villagers if the sign loses its topotectonic qualities, becomes dynamic, or is destroyed. With the newly built sign the normal order of the village is reenacted.
Figure 29.The village plan is structured according to the structural principle of the signs.
Figure 3O.a, b. 'Access and place scheme'. Frey (1947) showed that conceiving contradictory categories of movement and rest as a polar unity is very widespread particularly in sacred architecture over a widespread cultural area (Afro-Eurasian belt). (a) shows a Chaitya-cave-temple, India, with a village type on the right and a monumemal type on the left (Frey 1947). Illustration (b): access and place scheme. (B1) shows the 'elementary type' with the basic polar unity (1) and (21), (B2-3) show the complex type in extension of (B1) with different lower domains all 'encapsulated' and focused on the marker (A). (C) shows the outside of the local world.
Figure 31a, b. Perception of the natural environment in prehistory. This comparative scheme shows the conventional interpretation and the interpretation suggested by the analysis of semantic architecture. Conventional is the idea (b) that prehistoric man had a direct perception of his environment and that he conceived objects around him 'naturally' as we do today, and -for unknown reasons - used 'stylization' in drawing the natural reality perceived. But this may be an illusion. The scheme on the left (a) suggests that this conceptualization of environmental forms evolved by means of a dialogue between artificial signs or symbols and natural forms. Four types and stages can be considered in (a): (1) Petroglyphs depict dominantly geometrical artefacts used in the frame of cyclic rites. (2) Ritual artefacts dialoguing vaguely with natural form are depicted. (3) Natural forms serve as prototypes, but the way to conceive them in the design is still strongly conditioned by structural prototypes, (4) Natural forms are designed in a very naturalistic manner.
Figure 32a-h. That palaeolithic periods knew constructive processes is clearly proven in these explicit 'tectiformes' (a) and (b). If we take the above classification, a form like the one shown in (c) and (d) would have to be considered of the first type. It clearly shows a structural texture and tends to cylindrical form. Form (e) shows strong structural traits in texture and in tectonical form and seems to allude to anthropomorphism; it should therefore be considered of the second type. The same is valid for the forms shown in (f). All variations are still very geometric and related to the hourglass form. What looks like arms is related to the narrow middle part, thus suggesting ropes or bands, rather than arms. But the examples at the left show a stronger emphasis on natural human form: the head shows something like ears, and what look like arms are protruding from the larger upper part of the 'body'. The conventional interpretation of the pictographs (g) as 'schematized representations of animals' seems to be rather naive. Evidently it takes the left of series (g) as an indicator for the rest, but it is very doubtful to simply see group (1) as 'sitting ibexes' or group (2) as 'stylized heads of deers and ibexes'. The painting shown in (h) must in this concept be a very evolved depiction of natural form, thus an example of type (4).
Figure 33. In 'reading' such forms it is important to note that the technique of binding results in particular formal characteristics in regard to outline and texture: the rope is always rectangular in regard to the texture of the fibers or stalks (a) and forms a bulge at the outline of the form (b) The place where fibers, stalks, or other similar materials are fixed together by binding (c) tends to bend the outlines inward (hourglass form). With two or more bindings the intervals tend to become more or less bulbous (d). The bound material shows high plasticity; it allows pointed sticks to be stuck in easily (e). The same can be said in the vertical sense ( f). The material can be fixed around a pole or natural tree which is higher than the bound form, and thus sticks out (g). There are constructive implications that the central element is in line with the fibers. Any characterization of formal elements with leaves or other recognizable natural vegetable parts can be taken as a strong indicator that a petroglyph represents ,semantic architecture (h).
Figure 34. (a) Elementary and complex access-place scheme: the elementary type of structuring space by means of the access-place scheme works with a set of markers. The marker (A) separates a transhuman beyond (1) from the human here (2). The spatial domain beyond the marker is charged with categories like wild, inaccessible, illimited, nonhuman, non-cultural, pure, dangerous, spiritual. The spatial extension in front of the place-marker is considered human domain, related to the renewal rites of the ephemeral sign. Towards the access direction this domain is delimited with two markers (B) flanking the access. The extended rectangle shows the complex access-place scheme. It extends in the direction of the access-potentially in several stages of 'encapsulation'. The whole organization with different levels of extension remains focused on the initial place marker. The 'pars pro toto' implication remains intact. Illustration (b) transfers this concept in terms of a working hypothesis on the spatial structure of a cave site. It suggests a specific layout in different domains with particular categorial characteristics according to the >elementary (and complex) access-place scheme< (1) could allude to a nonhuman beyond, which is wild, nonhuman, imaginary, spiritual. Zone (A) might have been marked with ephemeral signs. This would imply static and tectonic characteristics in this part of the site. Zone (2) implies the human or ritual zone in front of the monument. This would imply dynamic categories, related to the dissolution and renewal of the sign. Zone (B) designates the access-gate area which was eventually marked with perishable markers and other elements emphasizing the threshold between inside and outside. What is important in this hypothesis: the survey of the outer environment becomes as important as the inside.
Figure 35. The 'horizontal cosmos' of the Ainu. Formerly hunters and gatherers generally considered to be a cultural survival of a palaeosiberian stratum, the Ainu show a very complex system of spatial organization. Dwellings and their immediate environment (D), smaller collecting domains, gardening sites, fishing and hunting domains, as well as larger arrangements, particularly for bear-hunting and, finally, the whole river system (T) with the uppermost and inaccessible end of the sacred mountains and the contrasting orientation toward the sea were all structured like magnetic needles in an overall 'magnetic' system related to the direction of the river. This system was the basic condition of all daily, monthly, and annual Ainu activities. The basic principle was 'coincidence of opposites'. And this philosophical system was evidently represented in nuce and handed down over countless generations with their highly venerated signs (S; inau). The basic - and meaningful.- motive of this system: living in harmony with contradictory forces of the environment into which man implants himself. In terms of cognition theory, it is evident that this system is antithetical to analytical science. This may be one of the reasons why Western ethnology never perceived the deep meaning of such types of spatial organization.