A Latin term for the upper member, or division, of a capital, on which the entablature, in classic architecture, rests. It forms an essential part of the column in the Grecian and Roman styles, and is found in almost every variety of column in Christian architecture. Its shape varies in all the classic orders. In those of the Tuscan and Doric, the abacus is plain, thick, and rectangular in plan. In the Corinthian, Roman-Ionic, and Composite, its sides are ornamented, and, in the latter, are cut into eccentric cavities, or curves, each of which is generally adorned with a flower or other enrichment. In general practice, the angles of the abacus are cut of segments of circles.
Note: this term is abaque or abacus in French, abaco in Italian, and der rechentisch in German.
Related term(s): None
Last modified: 07.01.06
Source information: Britton, John, F.S.A. A Dictionary of the Architecture and Archaeology of the Middle Ages. J. Le Keux, illus. London: Longman, Orme, Brown, Green, and Longmans, Paternoster Row; and the Author, Burton Street, 1838. 1-2.