Continuing our research into the physical elements of special object ( in particular) containers by looking at some to see if they display distinct base, middle, and top.
We'll take a quick look at the items cited earlier in this discussion-
- The Gau used in central Asia (Tibet, Mongolia, Bhutan, etc..) is a small but ornate case for carrying prayer text, diagrams.
Great, start out with a tough one.
Since these are worn, they may not display the typical base and top of other container. However, they do seem to have a hinge on the top (that is also the means by which it hangs on a cord) the middle container, and a lower portion (where the latch resides.)
- A particular bowl to hold nuts for divination is used by the Yoruba people of Nigeria.
OK, there are two distinct styles:
The covered bowl definetly has a top, (the top of the lid often decorated in high relief.) The bowl itself, or upper portion of the container, could be a middle but the base is not really evident. I could see that the lower portion of the bowl (the bottom portion of the container) may act visually as a base.
The open bowl supported by figures has a top (the bowl itself) a middle (the figures) and a base (the stand the figures are on). I had been inclined to say the middle area is where the special object is contained, but here we have the bowl open to the sky on top of the structure. Perhaps more like an alter or pedesital
- Salt cellars in Europe were used to keep salt.
Some have a distinct top, middle, and base.
Others have a middle and a base, but no lid. (Bailey & Co. Sterling Silver Nautilus From Salt Cellars.)
Here again, I am faced with a contianer with no top..this does not fit with my Tripartite paradigm...
- Cumdach or book shrines, were ornate covers for books created in medieval Ireland.
I'd say the front lid, or cover, would be the top. The container, displaying the sides, would be the middle. The bottom would be the base, not as decorated with reilef as the cover.
- Phylacteries, or Tefillin, are small boxes worn by some Jews on their heads and arms. They contain a prayer.
These have a base (the band to one's head or arm), a middle (the rectangular box that opens up to insert the manuscripts and is touching the skin), and a smaller cube as the top.
- Stupas in Southeast Asia may often have a relic and other things within.
Looking at the plans available at www.stupa.org.nz shows a distinct base (4 steps) middle (dome, or, bumpa, where relics or other speical items are stored) and top (crown.)
Additional sub-elements and their metaphors are many.
Let's look at some more objects tomorrow and continue to see if this tripartite division makes sense....