bucranium

bucranium

[byoo-krey-nee-uhm]
noun, plural bucrania [byoo-krey-nee-uh] .
(in classical architecture) an ornament, especially on a frieze, having the form of the skull of an ox.
Also, bucrane [byoo-kreyn] .


Origin:
1850–55; < Late Latin būcrānium < Greek boukrā́ni(on) an ox-head, equivalent to Greek bou- (stem of boûs) ox + krāníon cranium

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Encyclopedia Britannica
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bucranium

decorative motif representing an ox killed in religious sacrifice. The motif originated in a ceremony wherein an ox's head was hung from the wooden beams supporting the temple roof; this scene was later represented, in stone, on the frieze, or stone lintels, above the columns in Doric temples.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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