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Finial of the dome of the Taj Mahal Taj Mahal finial-1.jpg
Finial of the dome of the Taj Mahal

A finial or hip-knob is an element marking the top or end of some object, often formed to be a decorative feature. [1]


In architecture, it is a small decorative device, employed to emphasize the apex of a dome, spire, tower, roof, or gable or any of various distinctive ornaments at the top, end, or corner of a building or structure. [2] A finial is typically carved in stone. Where there are several such elements they may be called pinnacles. The very top of a finial can be a floral or foliated element called a bouquet. [3]

Smaller finials in materials such as metal or wood are used as a decorative ornament on the tops or ends of poles or rods such as tent-poles or curtain rods or any object such as a piece of furniture. These are frequently seen on top of bed posts or clocks. Decorative finials are also commonly used to fasten lampshades, and as an ornamental element at the end of the handles of souvenir spoons. The charm at the end of a pull chain (such as for a ceiling fan or a lamp) is also known as a finial.

In architecture

On roofs

Decorative roof finials are a common feature of Malaysian religious and residential architecture. [4] In Malacca, Malaysia, there are 38 mosques with traditional roof finials, with layered and crown-shaped designs, which are known as Makhota Atap Masjid. [4] On mosques built after the 20th century, these finials have been replaced by "bulbous domes." [4] Other terms for roof finials include: Tunjuk Langit and Buah Buton (East Coast) as well as Buah Gutung (Kelantan and Terengganu). [4] The Makhota Atap Masjid finials are made of mixed concrete, and the Buah Buton are made of wood. [4]

In Japanese architecture, chigi are finials that were used atop Shinto shrines in Ise and Izumo and the imperial palace. [5]

In Java and Bali, a rooftop finial is known as mustaka or kemuncak. In Thailand, there are finials on domestic and religious buildings. [6]

The kalash is a finial on Hindu temples. [7] On Karnata Dravida temples, the kalash is placed on top of a dome with an inverted lotus flower shape in between. [8] There may also be lotus petals at the top, before the kalash narrows to a single point, or bindu. [8]

There are two guldastas, or finials, per facade at Humayun's Tomb. [9] On Indian stupas, the layered umbrella tiers have cosmological significance as representing the realms of heavens or the trunk of a cosmic tree. [10]

Finials are decorative elements in a variety of American domestic architectural styles, including French colonial, Georgian, Victorian, and Romanesque Revival. [11]


A "ball-style" finial is often mounted to the top of a stationary flagpole. [12] The United States Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard employ a variety of different finials depending on the flag in question, the Marines and Coast Guard deferring to the Navy's protocols. [13]

On furniture

Bed posts and curtain rods

Public garden (park) railings often end in finials, and wooden posts tend to have turned wood finials. Turned wood finials are used on various pieces of furniture. [14] While the purpose of finials on bed posts is mostly decorative, [15] they serve a purpose on curtain rods, providing a way to keep a curtain from slipping off the end of a straight rod.

Curtain rod finials can be seen to act much like a barometer of public taste. Many designs hark back to the Gothic and Neogothic of architectural finials, while other contemporary finials reflect minimalist, art nouveau and other traditional styles of decor. The use of different materials is as wide as the range of designs with brass, stainless steel, various woods and aluminum being employed with a variety of finishes such as ‘satin steel’ and 'antique brass'. The durability, strength and machinability of modern alloys have lent themselves to increasingly intricate and dazzling designs.

Lamps and light fixtures

Some lampshades or light fittings, especially in glass, typically terminate in a finial which also serves to affix the shade to the lamp or fixture. Finials are twisted onto the lamp harp. Typically the finial is externally decorative whilst hiding an internal screw thread. There are several standard thread sizes which are used.

Use as headgear

During the various dynasties in China, a finial was worn on the tops of the hats civil or military officials wore during formal court ceremonies. [16] [17] The finial was changed to a knob for other daily usage (including semi-formal ceremonies). The Pickelhaube is a Central European military helmet with a finial topped by a spike. [18]

See also

Related Research Articles

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Art Deco, sometimes referred to as Deco, is a style of visual arts, architecture and design that first appeared in France just before World War I. Art Deco influenced the design of buildings, furniture, jewelry, fashion, cars, movie theatres, trains, ocean liners, and everyday objects such as radios and vacuum cleaners. It took its name, short for Arts Décoratifs, from the Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels modernes held in Paris in 1925. It combined modern styles with fine craftsmanship and rich materials. During its heyday, Art Deco represented luxury, glamour, exuberance, and faith in social and technological progress.

Fatehpur Sikri Town in Uttar Pradesh, India

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Cornice Horizontal decorative molding that crowns a building or furniture

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Sheesh Mahal (Lahore Fort)

The Sheesh Mahal is located within the Shah Burj block in northern-western corner of Lahore Fort. It was constructed under the reign of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1631–32. The ornate white marble pavilion is inlaid with pietra dura and complex mirror-work of the finest quality. The hall was reserved for personal use by the imperial family and close aides. It is among the 21 monuments that were built by successive Mughal emperors inside Lahore Fort, and forms the "jewel in the Fort’s crown." As part of the larger Lahore Fort Complex, it has been inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981.

Fretwork is an interlaced decorative design that is either carved in low relief on a solid background, or cut out with a fretsaw, coping saw, jigsaw or scroll saw. Most fretwork patterns are geometric in design. The materials most commonly used are wood and metal. Fretwork is used to adorn furniture and musical instruments. The term is also used for tracery on glazed windows and doors. Fretwork is also used to adorn/decorate architecture, where specific elements of decor are named according to their use such as eave bracket, gable fretwork or baluster fretwork, which may be of metal, especially cast iron or aluminum.

Mughal architecture Indo-Islamic architecture from 16th to 18th century India

Mughal architecture is the type of Indo-Islamic architecture developed by the Mughals in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries throughout the ever-changing extent of their empire in the Indian subcontinent. It developed the styles of earlier Muslim dynasties in India as an amalgam of Islamic, Persian, Turkic and Indian architecture. Mughal buildings have a uniform pattern of structure and character, including large bulbous domes, slender minarets at the corners, massive halls, large vaulted gateways, and delicate ornamentation; Examples of the style can be found in modern-day India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.

C. F. A. Voysey

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Rosette (design)

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Canopy bed Decorative bed somewhat similar to a four-poster bed

A canopy bed is a decorative bed somewhat similar to a four-poster bed. A typical canopy bed usually features posts at each of the four corners extending four feet high or more above the mattress. Ornate or decorative fabric is often draped across the upper space between the posts and a solid swath of cloth may create a ceiling, or canopy directly over the bed.

King post

A king post is a central vertical post used in architectural or bridge designs, working in tension to support a beam below from a truss apex above.

Akbars tomb

Akbar's tomb is the tomb of the Mughal emperor Akbar. This tomb is an important Mughal architectural masterpiece. It was built in 1605–1613 by his son Jahangir and is situated in 119 acres of grounds in Sikandra, a sub of Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India.

Moth ki Masjid

Moth Ki Masjid is a heritage building located in Delhi, and was built in 1505 by Wazir Miya Bhoiya, Prime Minister during the reign of Sikander Lodi (1489–1517) of the Lodi dynasty. It was a new type of mosque developed by the Lodis in the fourth city of the medieval Delhi of the Delhi Sultanate. The name of the mosque literally translated into English language means ‘Lentil Mosque’ and this name tag ‘Lentil’ has an interesting legend. This mosque was considered a beautiful Dome (Gumbad) structure of the period.

<i>Chigi</i> (architecture)

Chigi, Okichigi (置千木) or Higi (氷木) are forked roof finials found in Japanese and Shinto architecture. Chigi predate Buddhist influence and are an architectural element endemic to Japan. They are an important aesthetic aspect of Shinto shrines, where they are often paired with katsuogi, another type of roof ornamentation. Today, chigi and katsuogi are used exclusively on Shinto buildings and distinguish them from other religious structures, such as Buddhist temples in Japan.

Shahi Bridge

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Shinmei-zukuri (神明造) is an ancient Japanese architectural style typical of Ise Grand Shrine's honden, the holiest of Shinto shrines. It is most common in Mie Prefecture.

History of domes in South Asia

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Qila-i-Kuhna Mosque

Qila-i-Kuhna Mosque is a mosque located inside the premises of Purana Qila in Delhi, the capital of India.

Wapauwe Old Mosque Mosque in Indonesia

Wapauwe Old Mosque is a historic mosque in Kaitetu village, a village in the Wawane Mountains on the north part of cape Keitetu, Maluku, Indonesia. Established in 1414, it is the oldest mosque in the Moluccas and possibly the oldest mosque in Indonesia which has been maintained in its original state.

Kabuli Bagh Mosque

The Kabuli Bagh Mosque is a mosque in Panipat which was built in 1527 by the emperor Babur to mark his victory over Sultan Ibrahim Lodhi at the first Battle of Panipat in 1526. The mosque located in Panipat is named after Kabuli Begum, Babur's wife.

Sher Mandal 16th-century historic building

Sher Mandal is a 16th-century historic building within the Purana Qila fort located in Delhi, India. It was previously believed to have been constructed by Sher Shah Suri, but has since been ascribed to the Mughal emperor Humayun, who died there in 1556 after falling down a flight of stairs. Designed in a blend of Timurid and Safavid architecture, it is the only surviving palace structure within the fort and has become a tourist attraction.It is situated at the Purana Quila.


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