Design Shapes: The Circle, The Sun

Created: Friday, June 24, 2016, posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 4:00 am

Long, long ago I talked about circles and had wanted to bring up this amazing shape back to focus again. It has been a while, but the circle is as important as ever, and will always be.

Why have people, over the years, played around with circles? What is it about a circle that draws people across lands? Probably, the circle was the most important shape known to ancient man and represented the sun. And the sun showed up brightly in the sky, and represented a new beginning, every single day!

Sun is a Circle
Copyright: Image by StockUnlimited

Many ancient cultures, including the Egyptians and the Indians, revered the sun as God. And in turn, these cultures also respected the circle, which represented the sun! In fact, the sun provided inspiration that gave birth to the mandala in India, and we will talk about mandalas in another post. For now, let us look at the relationship between the sun and the circle

The Egyptians worshipped Ra, the Sun God who is often showed balancing the sun on his head. Over the sun, there is typically a serpent. The picture below shows Ra carved in the tomb of Ramses IV, found in the Valley of the Kings.

Ra, from the tomb of Ramses IV
Creative Commons: Image by Riccardov

In India, the Sun God was rarely shown as a circle—rather he was shown in a human form. Yet, there were always circles in many forms wherever the Sun God was worshipped. In the Sun Temple at Konark, Odisha, the temple itself was built as a large chariot with 12 pairs (24) of wheels. Of course, the wheel is again a circle.

Chariot wheel of Konark temple
Creative Commons: Image by Kiranraj120

In future posts of this series, we will look at other cultural and design aspects that represent and refer to the circle shape.

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