I used to play hard with this idea of Ur-form in the art history classes I taught at university. Asking my design students to exercise their creative brain thinking about the origins of… anything.
Why not sit on the ground? It’s wet, it’s muddy so sit on a stone or the stump of decaying tree. The first chair. Well there are not enough chairs for all the tribe to sit on. Who gets to sit on the stone above the rest to be seen and heard? Well, it was the elder, most respected, most knowledgeable, or the storyteller, the shaman, the teacher, the father, the mother. They speak with their listeners at their knee (see, even our contemporary turn of phrase, our language follows the design, the symbol, the natural order).
Now the Chair is a Throne.
The throne becomes a symbol of authority, ruling power, and a place from which proclamations are made. Every king must have a throne. And every king and queen must have a crown, right?
So What is the Ur-form of a Crown?
Why must it shine, sparkle with jewels? The crown is a manifestation of the ancient symbol of the sun as immortality.
The halo is the easiest way to see this symbol at work in more contemporary religious terms. Artists were commissioned by the Christian Church to decorate the interiors of the earliest places of worship. They borrowed the symbol and its meaning from the so called pagan religions the church tried so hard to dismantle. But they were preaching to pagans.
To help the misguided understand the one true God a glow, rays of sunlight, a sun disc surrounded the head of Christ in mosaics and paintings. The visual cue was already circulating amongst the pagans. When in Rome...