Abacus: The abacus is the slab on the top part that crowns the capital.

Ambulatory: Space that can be walked through behind a chapel or altar.

Apse: The aspse is the vaulted part and that is generally semicircular that overhangs from the back façade of a temple, where the high altar and the presbytery meet.

Arch: Arch comes from the Latin arcus, lineal construction element with a curved form that closes in the space between two pillars or walls. It is formed by two pieces called the voussoirs and can adopt different curved forms. It is very useful to close in spaces that are relatively large with small pieces.

– Bow Flare or Bent Arch: It is the arch whose light increases or decreases from one face of the wall where the open space begins. It was much used in Romantic and Gothic architecture forming large windows and particularly portals.

– Semicircular Arch: It is the arch that has the form of a semicircle. The center of the     circumference is at the height of the impost or fascia, therefore, their deflection is equal to half its light.

– Ogival Arch: This arch is formed by two segments of the arch forming a central angle.

– Arch Rib: It is the overhanging element and run like a molding over the intrados of a vault for its reinforcement.Archivolt: It is one of each one of the orders or moldings that form a series of concentric arches decorating the arch of the medieval portals in the exterior face, running its curve through its extension and ending in the impost or fascia.

Architrave: Lower part of the entablature that lies over the column capital. Its structural function is to serve as a dintel in order to convey the weight of the cover to the columns.Ashlar: It is a stone carved in several of its faces, generally in the form of a parallelepiped and that forms part of the ashlar works.

Ashlar: Fabric made from ashlar laid-out one over the other and in fine joint rows. It is an arch or opening covered by a horizontal element or a dintel. A dintel is a structural horizontal element that fills a free space between supports.

Attic: It is the last floor of a building that covers the foundation of the roofs. Body that is placed as an ornament over the cornice of a building, and the top built over the cornice.




B – C

Balustrade: Rails formed by small columns or balusters, with a decorative function, for closing in or protection. A series or order of balusters placed between the handrails (small columns that form the rails or parapets of the balconies.

Belfry: Wall structure that is prolonged vertically over hanging from the rest of the building and tends to end in a pinnacle. It can have a layout with one or more openings to host bells forming part of some churches where it acts as a bell tower or campanile, being different from the campaniles in that its access is not through the interior.

Boiserie: Decoration based on wood panels in the walls with internal ornamentation.

Buttress: Construction element adjacent to the wall of a building to hold its thrust. Vertical reinforcement of a wall, generally exterior that contains and offsets the lateral pressures, also called abutment.

Basilica-type floor layout: It is the rectangular layout with naves separated by columns, of a Roman origin.

Cannon Vaults: This refers to the semicircular section vault, generated by the extension of a semicircular arch along a longitudinal axis. Its faces show the form of the mid cylinder surface.

Capital: The capital is laid out in the upper part of the column, pillar or pilaster in order to convey the loads it receives from the horizontal entablature to these vertical structural pieces or from the arch that it supports. In addition to complying with the above structural vision it complies with one pertaining to composition, since it acts as a transition piece between two construction parts that are as different as those among which it is inserted.

Canopy: Ornament that is placed by forming a roof over a throne, altar, etc. from where drapery is hung.

Chamfering: This is the operation by which a chamfer or border is made, i.e. a cut or reduction of an arris of a solid body. Such chamfers can be done in the exterior borders, e.g. in the extreme ends of an axis; or in interior arrises, such as the entrances of holes.

Clerestory: In architecture, it is the highest level of the nave in a Roman Basilica or in a Romantic or Gothic church. Its name is due to the fact that its openings allow the light to illuminate the interior of the building.

Clustered Pillar: It is a pillar formed by a central nucleus, generally thick and robust, which has around it a beam of adjacent beaded areas. These beaded areas, finishing of the straight and vertical segment of the pillar to which it is adjacent tend to be later extended on the top through the nerves that form the nerve structures of the vaults.

Proper to the Gothic architecture, this pillar is also known with the names of compound or polistil pillar.

Coffered: It comes from the word «coffer» that are woods or beams located in the roofs between the holes that are covered with ornaments. Generally, this name refers to all roofs that are decorated with wood that solve the structural problems of the buildings and very specially the construction of forged floor and covered trusses. They are mainly found in the Mudéjar and Moslem Architecture.

Coffer: A coffer is each one of the squares or polygons that form a coffered ceiling.

Column: It is a vertical architectonic element, with an elongated form that normally has structural functions, although they can also be built for decorative purposes. Regularly, its section is circular, because when it is square it tends to be called as a pillar or pilaster if it is adjacent to a wall. The classic column is formed by three elements: foundation, shaft and capital.

Cornice: Overhanging or top part of an entablature. It is the topping off of the entablature as an overhung molding that at times is sustained by a shelf bracket.




D – G

Dintel: It is an architectonic construction system grounded in the pillar and the dintel as supporting elements, covered by a flat wood roof or made with wooden slabs and assembled boards.

Horizontal element that closes an opening in the top part.

Dome: The dome is an architectonic element that is used to cover a space of the circular, square, polygonal or elliptical layout by means of a semicircular, parabolic, or ovoid profile, rotated in reference to a symmetry central point.

Entablature: Set of pieces that gravitate immediately over the columns in architrave architecture.

Extrados: Architectonic term that designs the top convex external layout of an arch or vault. It also designates the back of a voussoir that tends to be hidden since it is inside a construction.

Fan Vault: Also called in Spanish a “palmeada vault”; and it is a type of ribbed vault developed in the late Gothic period where the nerves are numerous and are formed like a fan.

Fountain: Concave piece generally made of stone assigned to contain holy water or for baptisms.

Formwork: It is a system of casts that allow giving form to structured concrete or other materials before setting.

Foundation: Lower part of the column that has the purpose of serving as the support point to the shaft, extending it and that is generally formed by moldings.

Greek Cross Layout: It is the layout in a cross form with arms having the same length.



H – O

Intrados: The intrados is an architectonic term that designates the interior, concave or lower surface of an arch, vault or voussoir or the face of a voussoir that corresponds to this surface.

Inner door: It is the division-type structure between two rooms.

Lantern: It is a structure in form of a tower placed over a dome that through large windows allows for lighting and ventilation in the interior of the building.

Latin Cross Layout: It is the layout that has the form of a cross with the central arm that is longer than the transversal one.

Molding: It is a decorative element used in different artistic works, among them and perhaps in a significant manner in architecture. It consists on a relief or projecting overhang, a longitudinal component that preserves an identical profile in the whole layout. This profile or transversal section is the one that defines and differentiates the multiple types of moldings.

Narthex: In the romantic basilicas, it is the atrium that is separated from the rest of the naves by fixed divisions.

Nave: Interior space of a temple dedicated to the faithful.

Niche: The niche is a hole in the open semicircular layout of a wall in order to place an urn or a statue. It was placed facing both the exterior as well as the interior of buildings and is merely for ornamental purposes.

Opening: It is an open hole in a wall with the intention of illuminating a place. The opening is a hole in a wall allocated to have a door or a window. 



P – Z

Pane or Face: Length that covers the space between the nerves of a nerved vault.

Pedestal: Foundation.

Pediment: It is an architectonic element of a classic origin that consists on a triangular section or a gable laid-out over the entablature, which rests on the columns.

Pendant or Pendentive: It is an element with the form of a concave triangle with curved sides to go from a square form to a circular one in order to allocate the dome.

Pilaster: Pillar adjacent to a wall with a foundation and capital. It function can be structural holding a roof, roof tiles, entablature, molding or architrave, or merely decorative.

Pillar: Sustaining vertical (or slightly inclining element) exempt from a structure assigned for receiving vertical loads to convey them to the foundations and that, differently from the column, it has a polygonal section.

Polychrome wood: This technique of making sculpture pieces over wood, normally dedicated to a religious worship. The process refers to embodying, i.e. imitating the aspect of human flesh giving it different matt, semi-matt and shiny finishing. First the wood is covered with several layers of plaster with glue and sometimes it is even covered with fabric to create the volumes of the garments, then with different coats of paint, shadows, shiny areas and others are applied until reaching the desired effect.

In addition to the images glass eyes, natural hair, finger nails, leather tongues, human teeth and eyelashes are added, which granted an impressive and imposing realistic aspect. At times, the garments were of velvet.

The polychrome wood sculpture reached its greatest development in Spain during the XVII Century, and it was natural for this specialization to be passed on towards America, where schools of great prestige were created.

Presbytery: It is the space that precedes the high altar in a temple.

Pulpit: Hoisted tribune that generally is in churches, from where the priest preaches, or from where people sing or other religious services are held.

Retro choir: The retro choir or ambulatory is a space surrounding the high altar of the temples where the faithful can walk about.

Ribbed Vault: The ribbed vault is a type of vault that adopts this name due to the intersection resulting from two cannon vaults that point to each other and to the ribbed vault that is characteristic element of Gothic architecture. At the key it crosses, in most cases, on two or more diagonal elements that reinforce the whole system.

Serliana Arcade: It is an ashlar arcade that is frequently limited to three arches, the characteristic of the Palladian houses. Architectonic recourse that was very much used in the Renaissance consisting on combining semicircular arches with other lintel ones. It is the union of a central arch with two horizontal passages, trying to simulate architraves.

Scallop Trim: It is a decorative element that forms waves.

Scapular: Piece of fabric that hangs from the chest and the back, hanging from the shoulders. It is a symbol of yoke of Christ.

Shaft: The shaft corresponds to the main or basic body of the columns and is located between the capital and the foundation.

Shelf bracket: It is an architectonic element that stands out from the wall in an overhang and has the function of sustaining some decorative object or for receiving an arch or nerve.

Shrine: Construction formed by several columns that hold a dome; it is a small shell in form of a temple that serves to safeguard an object, generally an image.

Transept: In churches a transept is the space defined by the intersection of the main nave and the transversal or transept. This space tends to be covered by means of a raised dome over a dome or drum that is sustained in the transversal arches.

It is commonly used in the architectonic religious terminology to designate the transversal nave that in churches crosses the main nave in an orthogonal manner (perpendicularly). It also designates, more generically, any nave or corridor that crosses in an orthogonal manner another larger one.

Triglyph: It is an architectonic element of the frieze in the Doric order and it has a square form and is located in the extreme side of a beam.

Vaulted: This is applied to the cover that has the form of a vault, or to the architectonic construction that has a cover that is vaulted.

Vault: Work of curved masonry or factory–made form that is used to cover the space comprised between two walls or a series of aligned pillars.

Voussoir: It is a piece of stone in form of a wedge without a crown that with other similar pieces form arches and vaults.




School from Quito

The School from Quito or the “Escuela quiteña” is the name given to a set of artistic expressions and artists that developed the technique in the territory of the Royal Audience of Quito, from Pasto and Popayán on the north, to Piura and Cajamarca on the south, during the Colonial period (the second half of the XVI, XVII, XVIII Centuries and during the first quarter of the XIX Century); i.e. during the Spanish domination (1542-1824).

The School from Quito has its origin in the school of Arts and Trades, founded in 1552 by the Franciscan priest Jodoco Ricke, who along with Fray Pedro Gocial transforms the Saint Andrés School, in the place where the first indigenous artists are formed.

The School of Quito paintings were characterized by the use of a palette of ochre and cold colors closest to the European school of painting, using large open spaces and working the human figure in a lineal perspective.

Another of its common characteristics is the technique called “encarnado”, or red (as is called in painting and sculpture simulating the color of the human body skin) that gives a more natural appearance to the skin of the face of sculptures, once the piece is carved and perfectly sanded the main craftsman of the workshop went on to cover the wood with several layers of plaster with glue; after each layer, the wood was perfectly polished until achieving a perfectly smooth finishing; then the color is placed in several layers that are very liquid, becoming transparent and allowing the optic mixture of the overlapping colors. The technique started with the shadow colors (blues, greens and ochre); then the light colors were painted (white, rose and yellow); to finish with the colors that are highlighted (orange and red for rosy cheeks, knees and elbows in children; dark blue, green, and violet for the wounds and bruises of Christ or for the shadows of the incipient beard of the beardless youth. In addition, the imagery from Quito recreates the Andes landscape, the flora and fauna and indigenous traditions.

After the ratification of the Council of Trent that approves the fate and use of religious images in order to promote the Catholic faith, Quito becomes the main production center of Hispanic imagery jointly with Mexico. The main topics that were represented were the Birth of Christ, the figures of Jesus and the different invocations to Mary.

School of Cuzco (Cuzqueño School)

The style proper to the period of the American colonies is called the Cusqueña School. It had its most characteristic production in the Peruvian city of Cuzco, between the XVII and XVIII Centuries.

The Cuzco School of painting is divided into three periods, the first from the XVI Century until the middle of the XVII century and is characterized by the influence of engravings and Flemish painting, in addition to the Spanish origin paintings. In the second period, up to the end of the XVII Century, the native painters became independent from the Spanish masters, opening their own workshops. Thus, the school defined by the great Cuzco School masters Diego Quispe Tito and Basilio Santa Cruz de Pumacallao emerges. Basilio Santa Cruz de Pumacalla’s most contemporaneous follower was Juan Zapata Inca, who was in charge of the series of the Life of San Francisco de Asís, requested by the Franciscan priests of Santiago Chile. The third period that comprises the XVIII Century was extended beyond the Viceroyalty and was characterized by the use of “brocaded” or brocade that is the application of gold paint over the flashes of sanctity, garments and drapery. At this time is when the painting of the Cuzco School reaches an independent expression, in which an aesthetic and artistic is produced that prevails over European painting and the sale of canvases at a mass scale is intensified in the main cities of South America.

The works of the Cuzco School of Art are recognized for following a common representation pattern, since they integrate visually iconographic western Catholic elements with motifs of the indigenous imaginary and for the use of ochre tones in painting and in the polychrome wood of sculptures.