Illustrated Architecture Dictionary .............. Illustrated FURNITURE Glossary

Palm / Palmette
pal MET

Egyptian palm capital
Palmette as part of anthemion


Palm capital: A type of Egyptian capital resembling the spreading crown of a palm tree

Palmette: An ornament derived from a palm leaf

Anthemion / Honeysuckle ornament: A common Greek ornament based upon the honeysuckle or palmette. Used singly on stela or antefixes, or as a running ornament onfiriezes, etx.

Tower of Winds Order

Plate VII, Chapter III, Volume I, Antiquities of Athens, by Stuart and Revett.
"With its single row of acanthus leaves surrounding a single row of palm leaves, the capital is a simplified version of the Greek Corinthian order, and has become known commonly as the Tower of the Winds order."

- Calder Loth, Classical Comments: Tower of the Winds Order  (Online Dec. 2012)


It is thought that the palmette originated in ancient Egypt, and was originally based on features of various flowers, including the papyrus and the lotus or lily representing lower and upper Egypt and their fertile union, before it became associated with the palm tree.

In ancient Egypt palmette motifs existed both as a form of flower and as a stylized tree, often referred to as a Tree of Life.

The placement of the palmette-related motifs in ancient Egypt was on the lower registers of temple walls representing emergence of the first fertile mound from the chaos of the primal swamp, on tomb walls, on funereal monuments, on death masks, coffin lids and on door lintels. It is associated both with death and with life.

"Palms were associated with Upper Egypt, fertility, and with the goddesses Hathor and Nut: they were especially sacred to Re, for the branches resembled that deity's high crown. Palm-trees with double or triple trunks were symbolically linked with Min and Thoth. A palm-leaf signified a year, and if worn as a head-dress, signified longevity or even eternity." - James Stevens Curl, The Egyptian Revival: Glossary - Capitals

The fleur de lis, which became a potent and enigmatic emblem of the divine right of kings, said to have been bestowed on early French kings by an angel, evolved in Egypt and Mesopotamia as a variant of the palmette


A palmette is called an anthemion in Greek architecture

One of the chief elements in the classical Greek anthemion. One type of ancient Greek palmette resembles honeysuckle flowers, another is more like a palm leaf. Both were used in bands of anthemion ornament.

An early Corinthian capital has only one row of acanthus leaves with an upper row of palm leaves.

Found in classical Greek and Roman architecture and derivatives, including Beaux Arts Classicism Federal, Georgian Revival, Greek Revival, Neoclassicism, Renaissance Revival, Second Empire


Found in furniture, Persian rugs, and in classical moldings, reliefs, frescoes, and vase paintings

Examples from Buffalo architecture:

Other examples:

Photos and their arrangement 2002 Chuck LaChiusa
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