The vitruvian man

Posted: 02/10/2010 in Perfection, Philosophy, Science
Tags: , , , , , ,

The vitruvian man

The pen and ink drawing  by Leonardo da Vinci, depicting a man fitting his body to a circle and a square by adjusting the position of his arms and legs, is probably the most famous drawing in the world.  However, few people know its name or the secrets that it contains. It is called Vitruvian Man.  According to Pythagorian tradition, the circle represents the spiritual realm; the square, material existence, so the human body represented the perfect marriage of matter and spirit, which was is reflected in its proportions…

The ancient Roman architect Marcus Vitruvius believed that builders should always use precise ratios when constructing temples. “For without symmetry and proportion no temple can have a regular plan.”

The proportion Vitruvius recommended was modeled after the human body. He observed that all human beings are shaped according to a ratio that is astonishingly precise and uniform. For example, Vitruvius found the following measurements:

  • palm is the width of four fingers
  • foot is the width of four palms
  • cubit is the width of six palms
  • pace is four cubits
  • a man’s height is four cubits (and thus 24 palms)
  • erit eaque mensura ad manas pansas
  • the length of a man’s outspread arms (arm span) is equal to his height
  • the distance from the hairline to the bottom of the chin is one-tenth of a man’s height
  • the distance from the top of the head to the bottom of the chin is one-eighth of a man’s height
  • the distance from the bottom of the neck to the hairline is one-sixth of a man’s height
  • the maximum width of the shoulders is a quarter of a man’s height
  • the distance from the middle of the chest to the top of the head is a quarter of a man’s height
  • the distance from the elbow to the tip of the hand is a quarter of a man’s height
  • the distance from the elbow to the armpit is one-eighth of a man’s height
  • the length of the hand is one-tenth of a man’s height
  • the distance from the bottom of the chin to the nose is one-third of the length of the head
  • the distance from the hairline to the eyebrows is one-third of the length of the face
  • the length of the ear is one-third of the length of the face
  • the length of a man’s foot is one-sixth of his height

Vitruvian man measurements

Leonardo was one of many artists who attempted to depict Vitruvius’ perfect man, and the only one who succeeded; his version is considered the most accurate depictions of the human body.  The image exemplifies the blend of art and science during the Renaissance and provides the perfect example of Leonardo’s keen interest in proportion as well as medicine.

The evident and explicit is not usually the whole truth:

As a realist and a perfectionist he measured the Human body from every angle, so he could understand better its dimensions and be able to draw and sculpt it perfectly. And he did. Man’s height is four cubits (and thus 24 palms). The length of a man’s outspread arms is equal to his height. The distance from the hairline to the bottom of the chin is one-tenth of a man’s height. The distance from the top of the head to the bottom of the chin is one-eighth of a man’s height. The distance from the bottom of the neck to the hairline is one-sixth of a man’s height, etc.

The things more tangible and physical in appearance are often the ones with more metaphysical significance:

The real dimensions of the Human Being are not the physical dimensions. The human being is one and three at the same time: body, mind and soul. There is a perfect body, like Da Vinci explained in the sketch, but the perfect Human Being is throne that is perfectly balanced in its three dimensions.At the physical level, the body as well as the human being, is a complex system. It can be divided into 10 perfectly connected and functional systems: Circulatory, digestive, muscular and nervous among them. The main differentiator between the human and animal world is precisely the intangible, not the body. First: the intellect that resides in the mind. We are talking about intelligence, creativity. Second: our capability to feel, that resides in the soul. Not feeling in term of the senses, but in term of the heart. Love, pain, frustration. Feeling with the senses is only an electrical connection. Feeling with the soul is a combination of biochemical and electrical connections.

The magic of the human being is that it can be individualized but not isolated:

The human being exists by itself but also in terms of his relationship with the others and nature. And in this field is where our humanity, our mind and our soul really work. The soul is more a transmitter than a receiver. It puts us in contact with everything in the universe. When you love something it is because you connect with it, the two things have found the same frequency and receive and transmit freely.

The perfect human is the most balanced one. Balanced means in Harmony.

The body is in harmony when it is healthy. The mind is in harmony when its purpose of existence, the creative thinking, is active. The soul is in harmony when we recognize ourselves as part of a bigger whole: me, the others and nature. So, if you hurt / love yourself, others or the nature, you are hurting / loving yourself, and that means absence / abundance of harmony. When you love and serve yourself, the others and nature, then regrets, impatience, violence and all feelings of disharmony disappear.

In conclusion, A Human in Harmony.

Takes care of its physical body. Cannot stop being active in creative thinking. Transmits and therefore receives love for itself, the others and nature.

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Comments
  1. Katty Flouee says:

    It is extremely interesting for me to read that post. Thanks for it. I like such topics and anything that is connected to this matter. I would like to read more on this site soon.

    Katty Flouee

  2. Excellent points! Really enjoyed it.

  3. […] The vitruvian man […]

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