RED Colours of ancient times

Post 430 – by Gautam Shah


Red is the most fascinating colour in history. It is the colour of kill, blood and life. It was prominently used in prehistoric cave art. It was made with red Hematite or iron oxide, as red ochre. It is one of the oldest pigments and has lasted well for more than 70000 years. Red ochres are very stable colourant unaffected by alkaline or acidic effects, moisture or UV exposure. The red ochre is available in many colour variations, in almost all regions of the world, and usually at surface level. The minerals in the form of rocks, lumps or dust form can be ground to fine powder form.

Cochineal insects crushed

Red oxide or Red ochre colours of the primitive age were not the most brilliant colours if one were to compare it with some of the synthetic red pigments (cadmium, chrome, rubine, etc.), we use today. But in absence of the ‘brilliant reds’ the Red Ochre was a magical red. Primitive man, however had some ochres that were brighter then others. The brilliance of red was enhanced by mixing, or with topping with wax or oils.

Natural dyes on Skeins

The early civilizations used ‘red colours’ for different purposes such as body painting, ceramic painting, dyeing of leathers and fabrics. Root extract of the Rubia or Madder plant was used in ancient Egypt for colouring textiles. A red colourant made from an insect exudate called Lac, gave the term ‘Lake’ (a transparent dye-based colour). In Italy during the post mediaeval periods, the Lac was considered very expensive pigment. Henna leaves and madder roots were mixed with alum to create red shades. Another source of red colour was from insects Cochineal and Kermes vermilio. The Romans used a bright red or vermillion pigment made from a natural mineral called cinnabar. A warm ruby-red resinous exudation of Calamus draco was used by illustrators. Red lead or Lead tetroxide pigment was widely used in Persian and Indian miniature paintings. It was also used in European art by name minium. Sindoor is a brilliant red colour powder used by Indian (Hindu) women, on their forehead and for hair parting. It was Vermillion, but being a toxic material is now produced by reacting Turmeric with Alum or Lime.


Sindoor Tikka Powder Hindu Women use in on forehead

In India, red dyestuffs were used from antiquity. These were plants of kampillaka (Mallotus phillippinensis), pattanga (Caesalpinia sappan), jauka (a species of Oldenlandia), and animal substances like indragopa (cochineal). The Sappan wood tree (Caesalpinia sappan from Asia and Brazil) based, red dyestuff is called Brazilian.

Vermilion Pillars

Red Ochre powders were placed with dead bodies (Neolithic) or heaped on burial mounds (S. India). The word magic =Zauber in German, =taufr in Old Norse, or =teafor in Anglo-Saxon >> all meaning Red Ochre.

Red Lanterns Shanghai

Red colour is associated with Egyptian God, Set. Set was a god of storms, unpredictable and associated with deserts and foreign places, meaning with chaos and danger. The word ‘desert’ has derived from the Egyptian ‘dshrt’ or ‘deshr‘ or ‘deshret‘=red place or Red Land. Red Ochre was sourced from desert lands. ‘The hieroglyph for red is the hermit ibis, a bird which, unlike the other ibis of Egypt, lives in dry areas and eats insects and small creatures. Writers of Egyptian papyri used a special red ink for nasty words.


Red palette has offered a vast number of shades and chromatic variations. Red has been used as space making colour of walls and earth or floors, but not for aeriform figures like flying angels, heavens, skies or ceilings. It has been used in murals, paintings, statues, architectural interiors, manuscripts, dresses, adornments, foods, funerary, etc. Red has been a colour of piety, royalty as much as of death and fear. Colours have been codified but named differently in various parts of the world, roughly the time sequence was black, white, red, green, yellow and blue. Some of the ancient Reds were: Iron oxide (hematite), Ochres (burnt-calcined), vermilion, cinnabar (natural mercuric sulfide), realgar (natural arsenic sulfide), minium (heated white lead), natural dyes (madder, kermes, brazil-wood), sandarac. words.

Red Colours in Egyptian Art



Post 429 –by Gautam Shah



A Wire is a thin section material. It is long drawn or extruded in a single strand. Wires due to their process of formation have strongly aligned molecules or chains, giving it high degree of tensile strength. Wires during the production processes and due to the smaller section is highly susceptible annealing and surface hardening, and so acquire unique properties of malleability, hardness, etc. Wires generally have round section but could have square, rectangular or flat, oblong and serrated forms. Wires are of solid section but could also be of hollowed section.

Cello wires

Wires are made of metals, metal alloys, dual metals, glass and synthetics (Nylon, polypropylene, polyesters). Wires and filaments have similar properties, and the names are often used synonymously. Similarly spun fibres of natural or synthetic origins have few properties that are similar. Wires are used alone, singly or in strands, as encased with plastics, paper, rubber, and other composite materials, entwined or braided as ropes.

Multiple wires for resonance

Wire whisk

Wires due to their thin section have strong anisotropic properties that are directionally dependent, compared isotropy, which implies identical properties in all directions. So wires are used for carrying the tensile loads such as for ties, ropes, hangers, etc. Wires of different metals and stiffness are used in stringed musical instruments for sound resonance. Wires are used as the cutting edge for building stones, precious stones, cheese, butter and flour dough. Wires of certain alloys can be re-stressed to form coils and springs. Wires due to surface hardening combined with flexibility cannot be shear cut and move under high impact and so have been used as strands and as woven structure for shields for armour. Stiff wires are used for hangers, compressible connectors, reinforcement for handles in bags and purses, and spectacle frames. Very stiff (hardened) wires are used as cycle spokes, combs for carding cotton, wool, etc. and as weft separators in looms.

Wire Egg slicer

Sarangi India Wires of Animal Guts

Wires are very long linear products so form the continuous feed stock for production of nails, paper pins and clips, stapler pins, paper binding straps, needles, hairpins, other linear items produced with CNC machines, for soldering and continuous welding. Wires form the main body for electrical cables, encased with paper, asphalt, polymeric insulation, shielded or encased in other metal coverings. Wires are included in a selvage of clothes for very heavy curtains, sail fabrics and automobile tyres. Wires are used as bailing material for cotton, wool, and paper wastes bundle.

Wire chains for Russian Armour


Wires are used for straightening the teeth, holding bones together. Guts (dried and stretched animal intestines) a form of natural wire was till now used for surgical stitches. Wires are used as clothes line, fencing or barricading media, and as lightening arrester.

Dental bracing of wires



Wires as long strand is used in many different compositions. Some are linear compositions, popularly known as multi stranded wires, cables and ropes. Entwined wires with twisted barbs are used for fencing. Clutch, gear changing and break wires for two wheeler bicycles and automobiles. Springs of ball pens to railway wagon buffers, sofas, cables for chain-pulley devices, cranes, guys for supporting tall towers and masts, coiled wires for bulbs’ filaments. Entwined wires are used for rubbing clean the insides of boiler pipes and tubes. Zari or metallic wires used for brocade weaving work and for decorative laces. These are very fine Gold. Silver or polyester wires entwined on polyester or copper cores.

Springs of wires could be for Tensile and Compressive purposes

Wires as a plain, long strand, multi-strands, entwined form are used for weaving planer compositions, such as wire clothes, screen printing bolting clothes, wire nett, sieving media, and paper pulp forming screens. Wire screens or woven lattices are used in agriculture to keeps off birds. Wire fabrics are used to catch signals.

Sofa or chair coiled springs

Wires are used to create space or 3D forms, such as in kitchen drawer baskets, luggage trolleys, packing stones for retaining walls, filigree style of light weight jewellery and for rolling shutters. Construction plain bars and rebars are form of wires.

Stone Baskets of wires

Metal wires are formed by drawing or pulling a linear piece or rod, through gradually receding sizes of holes. Synthetics and Glass wires are formed by extrusion or a spinerette. Drawing is a cold working process, but it may also be performed at elevated temperatures. Generally a drawing process heats up a wire to cause molecular changes. Gold and Silver are ductile but costly materials, so are co-drawn with a core of copper. Wires for jewellery are further dented, textured, chained or spring looped to create special effects, such as for bangles, bracelets, etc. Strips of drawn metals are passed through crescent shaped dies to form half or full hollow tubes.

Wire drawing dies

Two or more wires are wrapped concentrically but separated by insulation, to form coaxial cable. Stranded wire is composed of several smaller gauge wires. It is more flexible than solid wire of the same total cross-sectional area. It is also a better conductor than solid wire because of the greater surface area. At high frequencies, current travels near the surface of the wire because of the skin effect, resulting in increased power loss in the wire.



LINKS on articles about CHANGES in BUILDINGS

LINKS on articles about CHANGES in BUILDINGS (This is not an exhaustive list)

Post 428 ⇒   by Gautam Shah 








































Post 427 ⇒   by Gautam Shah 


There was a time when all things were measured with comparison to the body and figured with numbers. The numbers were fingers such as Five, Ten or Twenty, or hex multipliers like Six or Dozen, and easily divisible Octet series of 4, 8, 16, 32. Different regions followed own measure numbering system. Varied measure numbering systems created problems like lot recognition and commercial pricing for the lot. To compound the problem, the monetary unit fractioning was equally varied.


The French revolution helped select a ‘scientific’ digital system. It offered 7-10 fractions @10X. The system created utter confusion as to who (which trade) should follow which of the units. The problems of preferring few select units increased manifold, when other countries adopted the Metric digital format but with different set of units. As countries (mainly Spanish colonies in Latin Americas) began to use Metric digital format, with different preferred units, the need for rational and common units became pronounced.

Bronze wool weight of 14 lb (6.4 kg) (1550–1600) stamped with the Royal coat of arms. (Victoria and Albert Museum) Wikipedia Image by David Jackson

There were few other problems with digital units @10X . The digital (time) hour of 1/10 or 1/20 part of the day, or minute to second relationship (@10X) was not acceptable to sailors and astrologers, using compass fractionated into 360 degrees, arcs, minutes and seconds. This had to be rolled back to the original method.

A measuring for volumes of liquids in units of cups, fluid ounces, and milliliters.

Before and soon after World War II, several conferences helped resolve the issue of preferred units of measurements. SI (Système International d’Unités) first recognized, Three units 1000 factored apart, in every series (e.g. km-mt-mm). These were either too large or small for practical applications. A widely spaced measurement system was not amenable to unit formation for processes like planning, design, production, transportation, fabrication or execution, etc. So ISO (International Standards Organization) devised a practical modular system of dimensions known as ISO Modular Preferences. Most National Standards (including Indian Standards) are recommending and enforcing the same for various products and processes.

Imperial measurement standards At Greenwich

Before these were recognized and accepted, there were practical units of measure modulations. For examples plywood and other sheet materials were produced in 4 / 5 Ft widths. Tiles were available in 6 /8/12 inch squares. Foot (12 inches ) was the most popular module and was accommodated in the new order. This was done for wider acceptance and to achieve a gradual changeover.

Module – grid based plan

ISO’s Four Preferences for Modular Coordination:

FIRST PREFERENCE (300 mm = 12 inches) This is favoured by the building materials’ industry. Plywoods and other sheet products are available in modules of 300 such as 600, 900, 1200, 1800, 2400 etc. Large buildings are designed with 300 as the module. But, for smaller spaces such as Bedrooms, toilets, second preference of 100 is used as a module.

SECOND PREFERENCE (100 mm = 4 inches ) This is considered to be appropriate one for Building components and Planning. Glazed Tiles are available in multiples of 100 mm, with sizes like 100 x 200, 200 x 200, 200 x 300 etc., and also in sizes such as 150 x 150, 150 x 200 etc. as a carry over from the old system. Fabrics have widths of 600, 900, 1000, 1200, 1800 etc. When we order Windows or Doors the width x height are measured in 100 mm increments.

THIRD PREFERENCE (50 mm = 2 inches) and FOURTH PREFERENCE (25 mm = 1 inch), are suggested for objects smaller then 300 sizes. Though these modules are not to be used for basic object sizes of more than 300, unless there are strong economic or functional reasons for doing differently.

Tatami as the module for planning of Japanese houses

There are many products where smaller modulation or variations are desirable such as Garments and Shoes. ISO Modular Preferences, do not consider the variations in naturally available materials. Furniture, fittings and fixtures designed with ergonomic profile or serving anthropometric, inconsistencies have no specific accommodation in this system.

Grid for ceiling

ISO is a modular system to form a grid or matrix for macro planning and in that sense takes a superior position. Components and parts are expected to fit in the system. As a result, work-sizes of components and assemblies should be determined by taking into account space for joint and allowance for tolerances.

Geodesic Hex grid Climatron Missouri Botanical Gardens



Post 426 – by Gautam Shah 


9 Koyama_3

Architecture and structures of mud or clay, for every conceivable purpose, exist in all parts of the world. In hilly regions of the world clay sediments have been used for packing the joint and as a masonry course leveller. Mud or clay is used because of the abundant supply, near zero cost of procurement, wet plasticity, mould-ability, insulating qualities, high thermal capacity, non toxicity, ecological friendly nature and simplicity of application. Mud as a forming material for architecture, structures or ceramics have some drawbacks like, shrinkages on drying, i.e., cracking, poor weathering qualities, lack of homogeneity in dry state, high water permeability -hygroscopic, poor bonding to a substrate -peel off, vulnerability to white ants and insects.


Mud has seen renewed interest during the last Six to Seven decades. First interest in architecture was for its abundance and simplistic technology. Later, the material was favoured for its insulative qualities. During the last 4o years the mud buildings are being favoured for their Eco-friendliness, chiefly the recycle-ability aspect of it. The ideology of sustainability, with its varied interpretations, has supported experimentation for different uses.

2 Wattle_and_daub_construction

8 Berber village Near Ait Benhaddou 5600152155_532c99cc67_z

Some basic techniques of Mud construction are identified. These are: Sod, Rammed earth, Cob (cobb or clom), Adobe, Wattle and daub Compressed earth block methods. These techniques differ in details, from region to region, type of soils, natural moisture content and availability of additional water, additives, reinforcements and support form-work within reach. The mix design and forming techniques also depend on building elements (wall, slab, etc.), architectural elements and surface finish or applique decorations.

11 st_stephens_church_at_acoma_pueblo1

Mud architecture presents fascinating forms. The quality of space formation, the suitability for range of basic architectonic elements, adaptability to different usages, and the universal availability, make mud a very coveted material. The love affair is very poignant during the academic period of designers. The passion, however, gets muted over the years, for variety of reasons, such as lack of the clientele, the place, scope and sponsorship for experimentation and the irrelevance of the technology at locations where the educated designer will operate. There are many other reasons for a failed take off for ‘low technology and eco-friendly’ endeavours. Mud, is reckoned to be a sustainable material, of very relevant (‘green’) technology, non toxic, universally available and completely recyclable material.


1 House_in_Toteil_002

These concepts remain valid so far as one can use the mud architecture concurrently with matching ‘lifestyle’ if one is conducting. A personal habitat of mud and to maintain (sustain) it for a long period, are two different things. A mud building is a very fragile entity and needs day to day care. Such concerns cannot be assigned to any outsider or agency. The cost of daily upkeep can turn out to be very high. And even if one can afford the cost, (which could be equal to the cost of a new structure), takes lots of time, practically a full time vocation.

7 Siwa mud Homes2009

Mud built-form cannot be conceived as a drawn plan or scheme. A person who constructs it must improvise it on own. The execution of such form cannot happen quickly, and during the period whatever that has been constructed will need updating and improvisation. Some of the key elements of built form, material behaviour, form and space organization exist in the society that has been using mud for generations. These innate capacities can be reinforced by being not only an active participant on the site, but by being an inhabitant of the entity. Only an inhabitant of the mud architecture can sustain it.

4 Mud_plaster_over_straw_bales_wallDesigners cannot, and must not meddle in mud architecture design or execution. A design student may be asked to design one and perhaps execute it, as a learning exercise. The fashionable word coined by teachers who never practice, or have never done, is “hand on experience” in material-form-and the technological implications.

3 Annual_repair_of_the_world's_largest_mud_brick_building_the_Great_Mosque_of_Djenné_in_Mali._(32088227574)




Post 425 –  by Gautam Shah


CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. At NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida

A system is an entity with recognizable parts or subsystems that in some way overlap or interact in time and space. This overlap of functions and degree of interactions project a singular purpose or identity of the system. A system is conceptual totality, but need not be a fathomable entity, like the atmosphere system. Systems have parts or subsystems that may seem to participate with other system. Such transcending parts individually reflect the nature of the systems they subsist on.

Richards Labs Penn L Kahn


Systems are also finite when they exist within an environment of discipline. Such open systems also have nodes where other distinct systems get attached. Many such interconnected systems again serve a singular purpose. Compared with the interconnected or open systems, there could be self-sustaining systems. Such systems are strongly contained, and so are closed systems. Open systems interact with other systems or outside environment, and Closed systems have little interaction with other systems or outside environment. Our body is an open system as it continuously interacts with the environment, where as a watch is nearly self sufficient entity.


Open system have external interactions, such as of information, energy, material and other resources export-import. Open systems retain the enthalpy to be in equilibrium. Open systems are like a digital word processor article or a spreadsheet which are amenable to changes or can be “adjusted’. Some legal agreements could an ironclad or closed document, which once created cannot be changed in any part, and must be redrawn. A quasi-legal agreement could be an understanding, an open document allowing future change or revision.

Emil Bach House FLW

In Architecture, buildings are classifiable into Open-ended and Closed-ended entities. An open-ended form and structure allow extensions or additions. Open-ended structures allow spatially limited or occasional alteration. Open-ended buildings have identifiable subsystems, each of which can be designed, executed, maintained, operated, upgraded, replaced or terminated by different agencies, at different times and circumstances. Open-ended systems inherently have multiple units of modulated sizes, form consistency patterned arrangement and perceptible organization.


Closed-ended structures have a self-sufficient form and singular purpose. Such structures reflect the one master ownership or single intent, and so are monumental, akin to a piece of sculpture. There may be nonfunctional repeat units in the composition for pattern making. A closed system does not transect anything, and may not have nodes of exchange. One need not be aware of the interior of the system, as there are ‘no repairable or serviceable components inside’. Such tags are very common on technical products of proprietary design.

All Gizah Pyramids

Certain forms or shapes are dominantly, either Closed-ended or Open-ended. Forms that are broader at the base, and narrower or pointed at the top, do not allow extension. Pyramid, cone or tower, are closed ended systems. Similarly drum like shapes allow little additions except in the upward direction. Contrary to this, a square or rectangle is very extendible shape in all directions. Old Basilicas and Church buildings have been added upon, but Hindu temple is rather a static form.

Houses of parliament British

Highly articulated buildings like Versailles or British Parliament, are closed ended or static structures. It would be difficult to add upon them in any relevant manner without compromising the integrity of the built-form. Indian Parliament has an annex connected with an access tunnel. Versailles has glass pyramids (closed ended entities) as new extension.

Sansad Bhavan

Architects create monumental buildings by compromising many other functions or requirements. For such purposes the building is conceived with a single form (though transgressed in many ways), single material, or sensuality, nonhuman or disproportionate scale and fewer sub elements. Some explorations towards closed ended architecture or monumental buildings have been deconstructionist, gravity defying and highly dynamic or mobile forms.

Vitra fire station -Zaha Hadid



Post 424 – by Gautam Shah



A drape is a way of hanging or placing an unstitched piece of fabric. The word drape derives from Proto-Germanic drapiz and drepiz (=a strike, hit, blow), (=intended for striking, to be beaten), it also relates to English drub (=to beat) and Swedish dräpa (=to slay). In ancient periods a drape-able fabric was heavily (beaten) washed, and so soft and pliable. A heavily washed fabric is dull or of unbleached natural colour. At places a dull cloth is described to be greyish to yellowish or light olive brown in colour. The loss of crispiness perhaps indicates use of Linen, which became soft after several washes.

The word drapery is of 14th C origin, but drape or equivalent usages must be very ancient. Unstitched pieces of fabrics were used for covering own self by ordinary people as well as priests and rulers. The draped fabric, if soft, hangs loosely. The fabric, if stiff or of heavier weave remains fluffy, and does not ‘fall’ gracefully. The fabric worn as dress usually has vertical folds, which change with body movements. On a performance stage, it creates an impression of ‘larger than life movement’, perceptible to the spectators in the last tier of the Amphi theatre.




Drapery refers to composition of fabric used for decorative purposes, around internal or external gaps or openings. It also means any arrangement of fabric used as clothing, backdrop, accompaniment or adornment for a work of art in the form of painting or sculpture. Each artist and each era shows unique techniques of rendering the drapery curves and form. The quality of fabric material never shown as actual, it only enhanced the form of drapery. The colour of the drapery as shown was the artists’ pallet requirement and may not be realistic. The transparency of fabric and body revelations were according to the artists daring and perhaps client’s dictates.

Gandharv Buddha 1-2nd C BC

Sarcophagus of the brothers 250 AD > Wikipedia Image > Farnese collection

Leonardo studies for draping

In interior Design all types of fabrics are used for draping the furniture, openings, gaps, parapets, railings, columns, brackets, steps and stairs. These are covered with many different grades of fabrics ranging from sheer silk, flimsy organza, sateen, damask, linen, velvet, starched cotton, and later rayon and polyesters. Drapery colour and pattern schemes were coordinated with wall papers, curtains, carpets and other tapestries. Fabrics have been hung with formation of gathers or unstitched pleats, of vertical, dropped or sagged curves and twisted horizontals. Tapestry like one-sided fabrics are also draped over architectural elements of buildings.

Portrait of Mrs Abington British Actress 1737-1815 ART by Joshua Reynolds

Draperies were inevitable part of beds and bedrooms. Bed was the most important chamber for the lady of the house, almost like a female drawing room. Beds were separated by draperies from the room space, and beds structures were covered with drapes. Back side of the bed had hung piece of tapestry fabric or some form of drape composition. Paintings and portraits were edged with draperies.

Reconstructed Royal Bed at Warsaw Castle Wikipedia Image by Giorgiomonteforti

Draped fabrics were great collectors of dust and soot. The shaped drapes if too articulated, fluffy and against the gravity, have a tendency to collapse. The drapes are generally static arrangement, but during the early part of 19th C began to be replaced by simpler curtains. The curtain required pelmets or open hanging rods, both of which began to be covered with scallops. Scallops are articulated drapes, with ropes and tassels. Word Draper is used to denote an expert tailor or an establishment that stocks various types of fabrics and paraphernalia items.

Scallops over curtain

In art forms draperies have been treated both casually and formally, with neatly delineated lines or free-flowing curves. This has depended on the person to be presented like, an angel, Lord, saints, or commoners. Hellenistic period art draping was white or light coloured translucent body touching, but form emphasizing fabric. Gothic period showed the restrained flow of lines. Post renaissances, the drapery presentation was theatrical. Drapery presentation in painting was such an important issue that it was first discussed with the sponsors. Specialist painters were hired to touch-up the drapery work.


ART by Frans Hals 1625

Unstitched Appearals