What are the parts of a monument?


Stanley W. Edwards, Parts of a Monument: Frederick Douglass, 1899, Rochester, New York

This photo of the Frederick Douglass monument in Rochester, New York, is marked to show the basic parts of a traditional monument. **Please note that plinth and pedestal are often used interchangeably.

Many nineteenth- and twentieth-century monuments contain all of these elements; contemporary monuments often do not have all of the elements outlined above. Often contemporary monuments are placed directly on the ground for greater intimicy and interaction with the public.

Terms

apex: the highest point of a monument. This word stems from the Latin for “top” or “summit.”

statue: a free-standing sculpture in which the realistic, full-length figures of persons or animals or non-representational forms are carved or cast in a durable material such as wood, metal or stone.

self-base: the area immediately below a free-standing sculpture that is created as part of the object, carved or cast in a durable material such as wood, metal or stone.

pedestal: is the support for a statue, obelisk, or column. A pedestal may be square, octagonal, or circular. A pedestal is divided into three parts, from bottom to top: the plinth, the die, and the cornice (cap, cap mold, or surbase).

die: a major component of the monument. It often contains decorative carving and inscriptions.

plinth: from the Greek meaning “stone block.” A stone slab or block, usually square or rectangular, upon which a pedestal, column, tablet, screen or statue is placed.

base: the lower part or parts of a multi-sectioned monument. There may be a first, second and third base.

foundation: a slab, usually of concrete, that is horizontal and flush with the surface of the ground, on which a statue is placed. The footing itself usually is unornamented and considered structural, not a part of the monuemnt itself.

Diagram created by Renée Ater

What are the parts of a monument?