Shaft (architecture)

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differently designed column shafts in Ajanta

The shaft is the supporting and necessary component of a column ; it can have a round or polygonal cross section and be designed in various ways.


More elaborate decorations can be found on Egyptian, Romanesque or Gothic columns.

  • The "knot column" is a Romanesque column with a shaft shaped like a knot. There are also knot columns or "intertwined columns" in the form of a bundle of columns in which the columns appear to be intertwined. These pillars were said to have an apotropaic effect .
  • "Twisted pillars" have a spirally twisted shaft. This form is popular in the Romanesque. In the Baroque era , Gianlorenzo Bernini made the twisted columns with the canopy of the main altar in St. Peter's Basilica popular again.
  • If fighting animals are depicted on the shaft, one speaks of a beast column .
  • In the case of an "embossed" or "rusticated" column, the shaft consists of stud work , which in a more or less stylized form imitates roughly hewn, layered natural stones.