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.
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