Frank Lloyd Wright’s Torii Gates

December 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

“Harmony” by Steve Higgs

A torii gate is a  Japanese structure which traditionally stands at the entry of a Shinto shrine.   I found the significance of the torii gate described in several ways:  It divides our world and the spirit world, the sacred and the profane, the hallowed and the secular, or the spiritual and the mundane.  All descriptions indicate that the torii marks the entrance of a sacred place.

 The designs vary, but most torii gates have two vertical posts, a horizontal lintel at the top (sometimes curved upward), and a beam below the lintel intersecting the posts .  Frank Lloyd Wright created a stylized torii gate for the east window in the gallery of the Lawrence/Dana-Thomas House. His variation has thick vertical posts with a thin lintel and intersecting beam positioned closely parallel at the top of the structure.  The simple form is embellished with free-hanging Wright-designed leaded glass panels. The result is a stunning unique piece of art.

torii window

I believe that Wright created another variation of a torii gate for the house in the design of  the porches on the east side of the house.  In each of them the upward curve of the line of the roof combined with the two brick posts bears a strong resemblance to the traditional torii gate that has become a symbol of Japan.

torii porch

It’s clear to me that Frank Lloyd Wright’s torii gates were his way of saying that entering the Lawrence/Dana-Thomas House is a spiritual experience, an escape from the mundane.  I couldn’t agree more. What’s even more remarkable is that 110 years later visitors to the house still express wonder and awe as they explore his masterpiece.

In this holiday season, I have a special wish for all my family, friends, and loyal readers. May you all find your torii gate.  It may be a worship service, a family get-together, a gathering of friends, or quiet time alone. Whatever your torii is, I hope that it will take each of you out of your everyday world and into an enriching and peaceful diversion that will sustain you into the new year. 

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You are currently reading Frank Lloyd Wright’s Torii Gates at Susan and Me: Two Women in a Wright House.

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