Three pass

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Three-pass ('standing')
Three-pass ('standing') with triangular points
overlapping three-pass ('lying')
drawn three-pass ( fish bladder )

Dreipass are common ornaments of the late Romanesque and Gothic . A distinction is made between 'standing' and 'lying' as well as closed and - mostly downwards - open three-pass bends ('three-pass bows').

A three-pass consists of three outward-pointing circular arcs with the same radii, which are inscribed in a circle. The inward-pointing tips at the intersection of two arcs are called noses . However, there are numerous modifications and special forms.


The three-pass was a common ornament in the Indus culture . Ancient three-pass forms are not known. In medieval architecture they have appeared as ornaments since the Romanesque period and experienced their creative peak in the Gothic period . In the Renaissance and Baroque periods, apart from a few exceptions, they sink back into oblivion, only to be used again in the historicizing art of the 19th century.


In architecture, three passages were used in the design of windows (mostly in tracery ). Also on coins they are, as an ornament of the Gepräges which enclose the inner coin design since the Middle Ages as ornamental frame of the Münzrückseite ( reverse to find); they also appear in coats of arms and seals .

Three pass bows

Open three-pass arches on portals are extremely rare; elsewhere, however, they can often be found in Gothic and Neo-Gothic architecture (e.g. as the upper end of windows, wall niches, etc.). They also occur in closed form as blind and overlapping arches as well as tracery .

See also


  • Günther Binding : tracery. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1989, ISBN 3-534-01582-7
  • Leonhard Helten: Medieval tracery. Origin –– Syntax - Topology. Reimer, Berlin 2006, ISBN 3-496-01342-7 (also: Halle (Saale), University, habilitation paper, 2001: Topology of tracery in Germany 1227-1271. ).
  • Lottlisa Behling : Shape and history of the tracery (= Die Gestalt. H. 16, ZDB -ID 532755-6 ). Niemeyer, Halle (Saale) 1944, (2nd, expanded edition. Böhlau, Cologne et al. 1978, ISBN 3-412-03077-5 ).

Web links

Commons : Three pass  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Dreipass  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Trefoil Motif. In: Retrieved April 25, 2019.