Meaning of Capital
The term capital comes from the Occitan language. In architecture, the upper sector of a pilaster or column is called a capital, which decorates it and complements it as a molding.
The capital is an architectural element that transmits the loads from the horizontal entablature to the pilaster or column. It also allows the transition of those parts between which it is located.
The Egyptian capital is the oldest known. According to its figure, it is called papiriform (it imitates the papyrus plant), palmiform (inspired by date palms), hatoric (representing the goddess Hator) or lotiform (created in honor of the lotus flower).
In Persia capitals with double-headed figures were used. The Romans and Greeks, for their part, developed different kinds of capitals: Ionic, Doric, Tuscan, and others. Then came the Islamic capital, the Byzantine capital, the Gothic capital and other types of capitals.
That without forgetting that within what are the Muslim capitals we can also find several types such as the following: the Caliphate capital, the Tuluní capital, the Taifa capital and the Nasrid capital.
Of the same there are many other important capitals within what is the history of art and architecture. Thus, for example, we come across the so-called pencas capital, which is a type of Muslim capital that was inspired, to some extent, by the Corinthian. However, it comes to simplify that in such a way that it does not bet on representing all the acanthus leaves but simply what its beginnings are, the leaves.
In addition, there is also the capital of the hornet’s nest. It is another of the Muslim type that is characterized by being composed and by being inspired by Roman architecture. If it has that name, it is because it has a large number of holes, created with a trephine.
Of course, we must not forget the so-called curved capital, which dates back to the 12th century. It seems that the Almohads were the creators of it, which is characterized by its incorporation of scrolls, but between the two it includes a series of horizontal bands like ribbons. And hence its name.
But the wealth of Muslim art doesn’t stop there. Thus within it is also the ataurique capital, where both plant motifs and pine cones take center stage, and the capital of muqarnas, where different compositions of stalactites take on relevance.
At a general level, it can be said that a capital is made up of an talus (the molding that is at the base and that develops around the shaft of the column), a drum (the body of the capital) and an abacus (the board that serves as a top and supports the beginning of the lintel or arch).
It is important not to confuse a capital with a spire: the conical or pyramidal top of a tower. In any case, the dictionary of the DigoPaul recognizes both terms as synonyms.
For botany, finally, the capital is the sheath or sleeve forming the leaves of certain plants in the stipe.