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Letter "T" Glossary

tabernacle — A cupboard, often with an architectural form, placed in, on, or near the high altar in the sanctuary of a church to hold the consecrated Host.

tessera (pl. tesserae) — Small, usually squarish pieces of colored marble, glass, or tile set in mortar used to create the pictorial components in mosaics. In marble mosaics, varicolored marble tesserae are used to convey pictorial images. In glass mosaic, varicolored pieces of glass serve the same purpose. Gold leaf backing on tessarae provide the gold background of early Christian and Byzantine mosaics. Gold-backed tesserae are set into the mortar at varying angles to enhance the play of light across the surface.

thrust — The downward and/or outward pressure exerted by an arch or vault resulting from the weight of the structure and the effects of gravity.

tierceron — Secondary ribs in a complex net of vault ribs emanating from a main springer and leading to the ridge rib.

tracery — Masonry openwork found in the upper parts of Gothic windows used in conjunction with stained glass.

transept — Transverse arms of a basilican church plan set at right angles to the nave. The lateral spaces of the transept are referred to as the north and south transepts or transept arms. The area where the transept and nave intersect is called the crossing, sometimes surmounted by a tower, and providing a monumental space separating the nave and the choir.

transverse rib or arch — Monumental stone arches (ribs) located at right angles to the longitudinal axis of the nave in a basilican church, dividing the space and the vaults into regular bays or compartments.

trefoil — Framing device featuring three equal arcs or lobes, separated by cusps.

tribune — Second stories in basilican churches above the nave arcade with substantial gallery passages located above the nave aisles. Distinct from "triforiums," which are arcaded registers or levels of the wall in a basilican church interior located between the arcade and clerestory corresponding to the space between the side-aisle vault and the lean-to roof above that vault.

triforium — Arcaded register or level of the wall in a basilican church interior located between the arcade and clerestory that corresponds to the space between the side-aisle vault and the lean-to roof above that vault. The triforium may be blind (no passageway) or may include a passageway set behind it. The triforium may be glazed, e.g., the wall behind the triforium is pierced by windows.

triptych — Altarpieces composed of painted or carved panels arranged in a tripartite design, often hinged so that the outer wings fold over the central portion.

trompe l'oeil — French term meaning deception of the eye, applied to images depicted with such fidelity to visual reality that a viewer may assume the object is real rather than painted.

trumeau — The vertical column or pier supporting the lintel of a doorway.

trumeau figure — A sculptural figure located on the upright pillar (trumeau) located in the center of a large doorway or portal. The trumeau supports the horizontal lintel spanning the top of the doorway.

truss — A rigid framework of structural members (as beams, bars, or rods) arranged in a triangle or combinations of triangles designed to support a load, such as a roof, over a wide space.

turret — A small tower, sometimes corbelled (extended) out from the corner of a building.

tympanum (pl. tympana) —The triangular or segmental space enclosed by a within an arch usually often embellished with sculptural decoration representing Christian subjects.

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