A triglyph is a type of architectural ornament commonly found in the frieze of classical Greek and Roman buildings. It is typically spaced at regular intervals along a horizontal band and consists of a flat raised surface with three grooves. The word triglyph derives from the Greek words tri, meaning three, and glyphos, meaning groove or channel.
Each triglyph is rectangular in shape and can be either wide or narrow, depending on the design and proportions of the frieze. The distinctive feature of a triglyph is the arrangement of three vertical grooves or channels, which are evenly spaced across the surface. These grooves create a sense of rhythm and order when viewed in repetition.
The arrangement of the grooves on a triglyph can vary slightly depending on the architectural style and period. In the Doric order, which is the most ancient and simplistic order, each triglyph consists of two whole V-shaped grooves or depressions and two half V-shaped grooves. This creates a pattern resembling a central rectangular slab surrounded by two half hexagons.
The triglyphs in the frieze are often separated by metopes, which are rectangular spaces or panels that can be decorated with relief sculptures or other decorative elements. The overall arrangement of triglyphs and metopes in a frieze adds to the architectural harmony and visual appeal of the building.
Triglyphs can also serve a practical purpose in architecture by visually dividing the frieze into rhythmic sections and providing structural support. In some cases, they may be purely decorative elements without any functional significance.
Triglyphs are an important component of classical architecture, particularly in the Doric order. Their distinct form and arrangement make them easily recognizable and contribute to the aesthetic charm and historical significance of ancient Greek and Roman buildings.
Ornament for a frieze, spaced at regular intervals and consisting of a flat raised surface with three grooves, or two whole and two half V-shaped depressions.