Design of the Taj Mahal: its Façade

The Taj Mahal is one of the most recognizable buildings on earth. It was built by a Moghul king as a memorial for his dead queen and for love itself. The Mughals became famous for their architecture and the Persian notion of the sacred garden though their roots were in Central Asia just north of Persia.

I had been working on Angkor Wat, for my soon to be released book: Sacred Geometry in Ancient Goddess Cultures, where the dominant form of its three inner boundary walls (surrounding the inner sanctum) were in the rectangular ratio of outer walls of six to five. A little later I came across a BBC program about the Mughals and construction of the Taj by a late Moghul ruler, indicating how this style almost certainly arose due the Central Asian influences and amongst these the Samanids and the Kwajaghan (meaning “Masters of Wisdom”). I had also been working on the facades of two major Gothic Cathedrals (see post), and when the dimensions of the façade of the Taj Mahal was established, it too had dimensions six to five. An online pdf document decoding the Taj Mahal, established the likely unit of measure as the Gaz of 8/3 feet (a step of 2.5 feet of 16/15 English feet; the Persepolitan root foot *(see below: John Neal. 2017. 81-82 ). Here, the façade is 84 by 70 gaz.

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The Moon is Key to our Survival

With the advent of many orbital missions, the Moon is threatened with orbital and other changes due to space travel.

The modern theory of relativity has joined the worlds of space and time, now called spacetime. As beings we live in space while moving through time, and both these are assumed to be neutral dimensions having mere extension. However, spacetime is distorted by the massive gravitational objects found in solar systems, these exerting an attractive force on all objects including ourselves. As humans, we are therefore locked onto the surface of the earth by gravity, viewing a solar system of eight orbiting planets seen in the sky from the surface of the third planet from the sun. The earth has an unusually large moon which has fallen into resonance with the planets, a resonance then belonging to time.

The Moon was formed 4 to 5 billion years ago and this affected the Earth’s geology, stabilized its tilt (giving stability to the seasons) and providing tidal reaches on coasts. But apart from such direct physical changes to the earth, the moon has now developed resonances with the solar system, especially its outer giant planets, and this has given time on earth a highly specific resonant environment, based upon the lunar month and year of 12 lunar months. This resonant network appears to be numerical when counting days, months and years, in between significant events in the sky.

The structure of time is numerical because of these resonances between the moon, the sun and the planets. This resonance came to be known by previous civilizations and was thought meaningful in explaining how the world was created. Time was deemed spiritual because its organisation allowed human beings to understand the purpose of life and of the earth through the structure of time. In particular, the moon was a key to unlocking the time world as a link to a higher or spiritual world, a literal sky heaven organised according to numbers.

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A House that is your Home

This graphic demonstrates how the inner geometry within numbers can point to significant aspects of Celestial Time or here Space regarding the relative sizes of the Earth and the Moon, namely 11 to 3 according to pi as 22/7.

In some ways one cannot understand numbers without giving them some kind of concrete form as with seeing them as a number of identical units. Sixteen units can make a square of side 4 since the square root of 16 is 4 and 6 is factorial 3 (3! = 1 x 2 x 3 and 1 + 2 + 3) which is triangular, so together they make 22, and if the triangle to placed on top of the square, like a house and its roof, then the house is 7 tall. If you want an accurate approximation to pi of 3.14159 … (pi is transcendental), the 22/7 is good and the house defines it.

This adds another mystery to this form of pi often used in the ancient world where numbers were best handled as whole numbers and ratios of these. This pi allows a circle of diameter 11 to be set within a square of side 11, whose perimeter is then 44. This can be seen in the diagram as made up of 16 yellow squares and 6 blue ones, centered on the circle and making 22 squares in all.

If one looks to the end of the 7th square, as a radius, then 22/7 will deliver the dashed circle (red) of circumference 22 and hence equal to the house number (16 +6 = 22) just 1.5 units beyond the first circle (green). This is called the equal perimeter geometry and a small circle radius 1.5, diameter 3, will “orbit” the inner green circle and the ratio between the circles is obviously 11 to 3, and this is exactly the ratio between the mean Earth and the Moon.

It was thought, by John Michell, that the model was well known in the megalithic since simple experiments in geometry, as above, delivers the relationship between a circle’s diameter and its circumference with very small whole numbers. My own work finds it is indeed prevalent within the design of later buildings, for example in domes, circular windows, and sacred pavements. If so, such buildings became sacred spaces as models of the Earth and moon. Many examples are explored and interpreted in my Sacred Geometry: Language of the Angels.

The Metonic Period at Ushtogai Square

If one takes the figure of 940 feet (that is, 286.512 meters) as the side length factorizing 940 gives 20 x 47 and 47 (a prime number) times 5 gives 235 which is the number of lunar months in 19 solar years: the Metonic period. image by Google Earth

This is the larger of three bounding periods for the sun, moon, and earth. The lower boundary is exactly 19 eclipse years, called the Saros eclipse period of 18.03 solar years. . Within that range of 18-19 years lies the moon’s nodal period of 18.618 years, this being the time taken for the two lunar nodes, of the lunar orbit, to travel once backwards around the ecliptic. It is only at these nodal points that eclipses of sun and moon can occur, when both bodies are sitting on the nodes.

The first article on Ushtogai showed how, by daily counting all the tumuli in a special way, the 6800 days of the nodal period would keep a tally in days, to quantify where the nodes were on the ecliptic as well as predicting the lunar maximum and minimum standstills.

It now seems that, if the absolute size of the monument’s perimeter was able to count the 19-year Metonic, not by counting days but rather, counting the 235 lunar months of the Metonic period. The lunar month would then be 16 feet long. And, within that counting, one could also have counted the 223 lunar months between eclipses having the same appearance. The diameter of a circle drawn within the square would then have a diameter of 235 (lunar months) divided by 4 = 58.75 lunar months which, times the 16 feet per month, is the 940 feet of the square’s side length.

Figure 1. The size of Ushtogai Square, side length 940 feet, is 235 x 4 feet, making its perimeter able to count 235 lunar months of 16 feet.

In Cappadocia, present-day Turkey, this type of geometrical usage can be seen within a rock-cut church called Ayvali Kelise, only then in miniature to form a circular apse, just over 100 times smaller! The church was built in the early Christian period (see figure 2).

Figure 2 The Apse of Ayvali Kelise in Cappadocia, which presented the same geometry in miniature. [part of figure 7.5 from Sacred Geometry in Ancient Goddess Cultures.]

The Ushtagai Square has the basic form for the equal perimeter geometry. If so, that would form a tradition at least 10,000 years old. As a counting framework for the 18-19 solar year recurrences of aspects between the the Sun, Moon, Earth, eclipses and nodes the Square appears to be both a tour-de-force in a form of astronomy now largely forgotten.

Figure 3 Showing the circle equal in perimeter to the Ushtagai Square, the size of the Earth (in-circle of diameter 11) and Moon (four circles of diameter 3.)

As an earthwork where tumuli punctuate geometrical lines, it is a highly portable symbol of great time and a highly specific astronomical construction. It was an observatory and also a snapshot within celestial time, built just after the Ice Age had ended.

St Peter’s Basilica: A Golden Rectangle Extension to a Square

HAPPY NEW YEAR

above: The Basilica plan at some stage gained a front extension using a golden rectangle. below: Later Plan for St. Peter’s 16th–17th century. Anonymous. Metropolitan Museum.

The question is whether the extension from a square was related the previous square design. The original square seems quite reworked but similar still to the original square. The four gates were transformed into three ambulatories defining four circles left, above, right and centre, see below.

Equal Perimeter models at the center of St Peter’s Basilica

Equal Perimeter Models

The central circle can be considered as 11 units in diameter so that its out-square is then 44 units. The circle of equal perimeter to the square will then be 14 units in diameter and the difference of 3 defines a circle diameter 3 units. The 11-circle represents the Earth while the 3-circle represents the Moon, to very high precision – hence making this model a representative of the Mysteries inherited from deep antiquity; at least the megalithic age and/or early dynastic Egypt, when the earth’s size can be seen in Stonehenge and Great Pyramid. This inner EP model, is diagonal so that the pillars represent four moons.

An outer Equal Perimeter model is in the cardinal directions (this alternation also found in the Cosmati pavement at Westminster Abbey, and inner models are related to the microcosm of the human being relative to the slightly larger model of Moons). The two sizes of Moon define the circles at the center, around St Peter’s monument. The mandala-like character of the Equal Perimeter model give here the impressions of a flower’s petals and leaves.

Golden Rectangles

You may remember a recent post about double squares and golden rectangles, where a half-circle that fits a Square has root 5 diagonal radius which, arced down, generates a golden triangle. It is therefore possible to fit the square part of the original design and draw the circle that fits the half-diagonal of the square as shown below.

The golden extension of the Basilica’s Square Plan

By eye, the square’s side is one {1} and the new side length below is 1/φ and the two together are 1 + 1/φ = φ (D’B’ below) which is the magic of the Golden Mean. This insight can be quantified to grasp this design as a useful generality:

Quantifying how the golden mean rectangles are generating phi (φ)

Establishing the lengths from the unit square and point O, the center of the right hand side. OA’ is then √5/2. When this is arced, the square is placed inside a half circle A’C, BC is √5/2 + 1/2 = 1/φ.

The rectangle sides ACD’B’ are the golden mean relative to the width A’B = 1, the unit square’s side, but that unit side length A’B is the golden mean relative to the side of the golden rectangle BC. In addition the length B’D’ is the golden mean squared relative to BC, the side of the golden rectangle.

Commentary

It seems that the equal perimeter models within the square design of Bramante were adjusted. The golden mean was used to extend the Basilica (originally an Orthodox square building named after St Basil) into a golden rectangle. This could be done by adding the equivalent lesser golden rectangle, relative to the unit square through the properties of the out half-circle from O.

The series of golden rectangles can travel out in four directions, each coming naturally from a single unitary square. The likely threefold symbolic message, added by the extension seems to be the primacy of the unitary square, of St Peter (on whom the Church was to be founded) and of the Pope (as a living symbol of St Peter).

St Peter’s Basilica: Starcut & Equal Perimeter

In Malcolm Stewart’s book on Sacred Geometry, his starcut diagram was applied to Raphael’s painting The School of Athens to create radiants to the people standing around the Athenium Lyceum. “If the starcut was the central geometrical determinant for Raphael’s formal depiction of classical philosophy” it was a “known authoritative device” or framework for geometrical understanding. Stewart found a potential antecedent for such a technique Donato Brahmante’s plan for St Peter’s (see above) which was square like a starcut diagram.

left: Stewarts book cover right: The simplest version of the starcut square where the sides are divided by two and the outer square is four squares of nine, which is 62 = 36 squares and there an octagon within the crossing lines. If there were 72 squares, then the octagon’s vertices would all be on crossings.

A starcut diagram works as a linear interpolator of lines drawn between its sides which are then divided by a number of points that radiate out to other points. The inner lines in this one are eight in number, three per side. Malcolm Stewart shows (see below) the number of coincidences between the plan and a starcut, as if the design was partly arrived at by establishing this pattern. The cardinal cross between its four entrances could have be arrived at, as could the corner octagons with their entrance and side circles lying on starcut radiants. And the central square has corners defining the central space and pillars for supporting the dome.

There seems to be other signs of starcutting such as Honnecourt’s Man, that masons were using such frameworks to build all manner of buildings, sculptures and designs. To investigate further, I made a diagram of my own, over Bramante’s plan and used the method of modular analysis, based on the fact that the central cross of walk ways is one fifth of the square’s side length so that 5 by 5 squares (in red) will define that feature. But there also seems to be a 3 by 3 grid of squares at work (shown in blue) to define the central space in the standard style of the Basilica from the Orthodox (Eastern Church) tradition, this then accounting for most of Stewart’s dotted lines.

Reconstructing most of Malcolm Stewart’s fig. 8.18 using grids of five and three, and applying modular analysis to the Basilica, to quantify it in relative units 1/120th of its side length.

The plan has no scale from which metrology can be deduced, but the smallest number able to hold these two grids together is 60. But to resolve the width of the corner octagons (as 15) I have used a side length of 120. The squares of 24 divided by the octagon width is 24/15 = 8/5 = 1.6. On can see that the starcut diagram was probably part of modular analysis, a technique popular in modern studies of cathedrals which, of necessity, can’t have been designed except as a meaningful whole. But this design would go through many hands including  MichelangeloCarlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini to become a transcept cathedral design (see below).

Later Plan for St. Peter’s 16th–17th century. Anonymous. Metropolitan Museum.

My own book on sacred geometry found a different framework was often present in such capital buildings, a model called Equal Perimeter which is a model of pi as 22/7 but is also the basis for a cosmological model of the Earth and the Moon, as 3/11ths of the Earth in size. This model is principally a circle the same perimeter size as a given circle’s circumference, the square being symbolic of the earth in its side length, as a scaled down mean diameter for the Earth. The basilica square limits could then the Earth and the circle of equal perimeter and size of the Moon, as shown overlaid below. Just as the presence of starcut or modular frameworks were linked to a medieval tradition, perhaps parts of that tradition were conscious of this long lost knowledge of the size of the Earth and Moon.

The Equal Perimeter model seems quite clear within the Basilica as originally conceived by Bramante.

It would seem that the equal perimeter design was in use in medieval times because the Cosmati pavement of Westminster Abbey holds it very clearly, and it was the Pope who sent Cosmati guildsmen for its construction. If the basilica was completed on 18 November 1626, the Westminster pavement was completed by 1268 for king Henry III. Its mosaic is depicted in Hans Holbein’s The Ambassadors. The interpretation I gave to it is in my Sacred Geometry book was first published here.

In summary, sacred geometry became a repository for esoteric information and techniques useful for laying out the capital buildings and other religious artifacts in which the exoteric aspects of religion are performed. Rituals often have a deeper meaning, only accessible when one seeks to understand rather than merely know them. It may be that this was a necessary compromise between the outer and inner meaning of life in those times.

Cosmati Great Pavement at Westminster Abbey as a model of the Earth and Moon.
[Copyright: Dean and Chapter of Westminster]