## Sunday, 24 February 2013

### Da Vinci and the Vitruvian Man

You've seen the picture before, on posters, t-shirts, in books and movies. It's pretty famous. I even used it last week in this blog!

It's known as the "Vitruvian Man." Da Vinci did the drawing and made some notes based on the ideas of Vitruvius, who may sound like a famous volcano near Naples but who was in fact a famous architect in Rome. He had some ideas about the proportions of the ideal man. Da Vinci was able to use these to draw this diagram inscribed inside a square and a circle.

According to Wikipedia, my first port of call when I can't read Leonardo's unintelligible scrawl, the notes by Da Vinci around the picture are a summary of the key ratios of the perfectly proportioned human body:

• a palm is four fingers
• a foot is four palms
• a cubit is six palms
• four cubits make a man
• a pace is four cubits
• a man is 24 palms
• the length of the outspread arms is equal to the height of a man
• from the hairline to the bottom of the chin is one-tenth of the height of a man
• from below the chin to the top of the head is one-eighth of the height of a man
• from above the chest to the top of the head is one-sixth of the height of a man
• from above the chest to the hairline is one-seventh of the height of a man.
• the maximum width of the shoulders is a quarter of the height of a man.
• from the breasts to the top of the head is a quarter of the height of a man.
• the distance from the elbow to the tip of the hand is a quarter of the height of a man.
• the distance from the elbow to the armpit is one-eighth of the height of a man.
• the length of the hand is one-tenth of the height of a man.
• the root of the penis is at half the height of a man.
• the foot is one-seventh of the height of a man.
• from below the foot to below the knee is a quarter of the height of a man.
• from below the knee to the root of the penis is a quarter of the height of a man.
• the distances from the below the chin to the nose and the eyebrows and the hairline are equal to the ears and to one-third of the face.

These measurements are amazing. I could share most of them with my class at school but there might be a few giggles about using the penis as a point of reference so I might hold off on that one.

Anyway, a useful insight into the mind of a genius. Maybe if I worked backwards, I could get the kids to discover some of these relationships for themselves....