Cover detail from book in Peatie collection

DESIGN ELEMENT SEARCH TERMS

A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-Q | S-U | V-X | Y-Z

The search terms used are highlighted. The abbreviations following the terms indicate the source from which each term is taken: LCSH = Library of Congress Subject Headings and AAT= Getty Art and Architecture Thesaurus. Note that in addition to design elements this list includes the terms for material and for technique.

Acanthus (LCSH)
Note: Use for the conventionalized decorative motif based on the deeply serrated and scalloped leaves and curving stems of the acanthus plant'

Adam, biblical figure (LCSH)

Ajourage
USE
Piercing

Almond-shaped (AAT)
USE FOR
Mandorla
Note: Having the outline of an oval with pointed ends, like an almond.

Anchors (LCSH)

Angels (LCSH)

Animal-derived motifs
USE
Figure-and animal-derived motifs

Apples (LCSH)

Applied work
USE
Appliqué

Appliqué (LCSH)
USE FOR
Applied work
Onlay (Technique)
Note:
Technique of forming a design by applying cut out pieces of a material to a ground material.

Arabesques (LCSH)
USE FOR
Rumi
Waqwaq
Note: Decorative patterns of stylized foliage characterized by a continuous stem which splits regularly, producing a series of counterpoised, leafy, secondary stems. Used also generally for allover patterns of fanciful foliate scrollwork.

Archers (LCSH)
USE FOR
Bowmen

Arches (LCSH)
Note:
Structural elements, typically curved, spanning openings and transmitting vertical loads to either side of the opening; also, structural elements or freestanding structures that resemble arches or act structurally like arches

Armor (LCSH)
USE FOR
Suits of armor

Arms, Coats of
USE
Devices (Heraldry)

Arrowheads (LCSH)

Arrows (AAT)

Aureola (Art)
USE
Nimbus (Art)

Axes (LCSH)

Babies
USE
Infants

Balance wheels
USE
Flywheels

Band, Fret
USE
Frets (patterns)

Banners (LCSH)
Note: Use for pieces of cloth or other flexible material painted with signs or decorative designs and intended to be displayed by hanging or suspending. In heraldry, use for square flags bearing heraldic devices.

Beads (LCSH)

Belladonna (Plant) (LCSH)
USE FOR
Deadly nightshade

Berries (LCSH)

Beveling (AAT)
Note: Cutting or shaping the edge or end of a material to form an angle that is not a right angle.

Binding cloth
USE
Book cloth

Blind blocking (AAT)
USE FOR
Blocking, Blind
Note: Blocking without the use of gold leaf, silver leaf, or color, usually involving a heated block or frame. In bookbinding, distinguished from "blind stamping" in which a hand tool is used instead of a machine.

Blocking (AAT)
Note: Marking the surface of an object by pressing onto it, by means of a machine such as a printing press, a block, plate, or frame containing the elements that make up the printing surface, often having a raised design. In bookbinding, distinguished from "stamping (marking)", in which a hand tool is used instead of a machine.

Blocking, Blind
USE
Blind blocking

Blocking, Gold
USE
Gold blocking

Bonnets (Hats) (AAT)
Note: Soft hats usually tied under the chin and having a front brim; formerly worn by women, but now mostly children.

Book cloth (AAT)
USE FOR
Binding cloth
Note: Textile material produced for use in covering book bindings, typically woven cotton or linen subjected to processes to stiffen, color, and pattern it and enhance its durability, such as bleaching, dying, sizing, impregnating, glazing, and embossing.

Bosses (AAT)
Note: Raised ornamental or protective projections or knobs as at the intersection of the ribs of a vault or on the sides of books to protect the covers.

Bowls (Tableware) (LCSH)

Bowmen
USE
Archers

Bows (Weapons) (ATT)

Braid (LCSH)
Note: A narrow trimming made by a variety of techniques such as tablet weaving or braiding. It comes in a variety of fibers and weights, but is heavier than ribbon and flatter than cord.

Buddhas (LCSH)

Buds (LCSH)
USE FOR
Plant buds

Canopies, Architectural (LCSH)

Cartouches, Ornamental (Decorative arts) (LCSH)
Note: Ornamental enframements, such as for an inscription, monogram, or coat of arms, or ornately framed tablets, often bearing inscriptions.

Carving (Decorative arts) (LCSH)
Note: The act of shaping, marking, or decorating wood, stone, or another material by cutting or incising, typically using tools such as chisels and other blades. It refers to this process as it is applied to small-scale objects or to objects that are not considered art. "Carving" may also be considered a sculpture technique that is employed in the creation of art.

Celtic decoration and ornament
USE
Decoration and ornament, Celtic

Chains (LCSH)

Cherubs
USE
Putti

Chinese frets (AAT)
Note: Frets characterized by elongated, right-angled meanderlike elements, originating in Chinese art and adapted to Chinoiserie in Europe in the 18th century.

Circle (LCSH)
Note: Geometric plane figures bounded by a single curved line which is everywhere equally distant from the center of the figure.

Clasps (LCSH)

Coats of arms
USE
Devices (Heraldry)

Columns (LCSH)

Cradles (LCSH)

Cranes (Birds) (LCSH)

Crescents (Shapes) (AAT)
USE FOR
Moons, Crescent
Note: Motifs consisting of a curved segment of a circle, often suggesting a crescent moon.

Crosiers
USE
Staff, Pastoral

Crosses (LCSH)
Note: Use to describe motifs consisting of two intersecting lines or bars, with many variations in the shapes of the arms. For structures or objects of cross shape, especially those used as Christian symbols, use "crosses (objects)."

Crown of thorns (LCSH)

Crowns (LCSH)
Note: Ornamental fillets, wreaths, or similar encircling ornaments for the head worn for personal adornment or as a mark of honor or achievement; also, coronal wreaths of leaves or flowers.

Crozier
USE
Staff, Pastoral

Deadly nightshade
USE
Belladonna (Plant)

Decoration and ornament, Celtic (LCSH)
USE FOR
Celtic decoration and ornament

Decoration and ornament, Gothic (LCSH)
USE FOR
Gothic decoration and ornament Gothic Medieval
Note: Refers to the style and period that began in northern France in the mid-twelfth century, and spread to the rest of western Europe during the next 100 years. It evolved into the Renaissance at different times in different parts of Europe. The style evolved in cathedral architecture and is characterized by immense interiors, towers, spires, complex and detailed images in stone, paint, and glass, and soaring height facilitated by pointed arches and flying buttresses. The style also flourished in stained glass, sculpture, elaborate altarpieces, wall painting, and manuscript illumination where it typically features bright color, elongated proportions, intricate detail, and emotional narrative content.

Decoration and ornament-Plant forms
USE
Plant-derived motifs Floral patterns

Devices (Heraldry) (LCSH)
USE FOR
Coats of arms Arms, Coats of Heraldic devices
Note: Use for devices that include the full display of armorial bearings: the escutcheon plus its adjuncts (helm, crest, mantling, motto, supporters).

Diamonds (Motifs)
USE
Lozenges

Dolphins (LCSH)

Dots (Art) (LCSH)
Note: Small marks or spots, used singly or in patterns. They have been used as decorative motifs in on ritual objects in early China to denote fertility, in early Celtic and Anglo-Saxon manuscripts where they were commonly used to embellish initials letters, in heraldry, and in the decoration of glass and pottery.

Double-headed eagle (Emblem) (LCSH)
USE FOR
Two-headed eagle (Emblem)

Draperies (LCSH)
Note: Curtains, especially long curtains of heavy fabric, usually hung in carefully arranged folds at the sides of openings, either in a straight or draped fashion, and often used over sheer curtains.

Eagles (LCSH)

Eggs (LCSH)

Eight (The number) (LCSH)

Eve, biblical figure (LCSH)

Eye (LCSH)

Eyeglasses (LCSH)
USE FOR
Spectacles

Fathers (LCSH)

Feathers (LCSH)
USE FOR
Plumage

Figure- and animal-derived motifs (AAT)
USE FOR
Animal-derived motifs
Zoological motifs

Filigree (LCSH)
Note: Decoration done entirely with fine wire, chiefly to ornament gold and silver. The term is usually used to describe openwork made of wire.

Fillets (Bookbinding) (LCSH)
USE FOR
Roulettes (Bookbinding)
Note: Impressed lines, either gilt or blind, created in leather or other semi-hard surface materials by finishing tools also called fillets; most commonly used in bookbinding. For similarly shallow recessed moldings in other plane surfaces, use "sunk fillets."

Fleurons (Motifs) (AAT)
USE FOR
Type ornaments
Note: Small decorative flowerlike elements; a term used loosely in reference to architecture and furniture and more specifically in reference to printers' type ornaments.

Fleur-de-lys (LCSH)

Floral patterns (AAT)
USE FOR
Decoration and ornament-Plant forms (LCSH))

Flywheels (LCSH)
USE FOR
Balance wheels

Fools and jesters (LSCH)
USE FOR
Jesters
Note: People who perform as clowns, comedians, and musicians, especially at a court or in the service of a ruler.

Fountains (AAT)

Frets (Patterns) (AAT)
USE FOR
Bands, Fret
Labyrinth pattern
Note: Use for patterns consisting of repeated, linear, geometrical shapes, usually angular, in a continuous band.

Fruit (LCSH)

Fuschia (LCSH)

Garden lattices
USE
Trellises

Gargoyles (LSCH)

Gauffering (AAT)
USE FOR
Goffering
Note: Decorating a surface by indenting or embossing it, as in stamping of linen book bindings or gold leaf surfaces.

Gilding (LCSH)
USE FOR
Gilt
Note: Surface application of metal in the form of leaf, powder applied directly to the surface, powder mixed with a binder, or other forms to approximate the effect of solid or inlaid metal.

Gilt
USE
Gilding

Glazing (Coating) (AAT)
Note: Covering with a thin, usually glossy, sometimes transparent, coating; includes the application of transparent, colored paint over areas of other paint to alter the appearance or color.

Goffering
USE
Gauffering

Gold blocking (AAT)
USE FOR
Blocking, Gold
Note: Blocking that leaves a pattern of gold on a surface, usually involving the use of a heated block or frame which is pressed on gold leaf.

Gothic decoration and ornament
USE
Decoration and ornament, Gothic

Gothic Medieval
USE
Decoration and ornament, Gothic

Gothic scripts (AAT)
Note: A group of scripts, including book hands and documentary scripts, and formal and cursive styles, predominant in Europe from the late 12th to the 16th century, and in some areas still later.

Grain patterns (AAT)
USE FOR
Patterns, Grain
Note: Patterns that occur naturally on the surface of materials, such as cloth, leather, wood, or stone, caused by the arrangement of their constituent fibers or particles. Also, patterns, produced artificially, as for instance by embossing, on the surface of materials such as book cloth, in order to give them the appearance of having a particular grain; these may be either imitative of natural grains, or artificial designs such as a diaper pattern. Distinct from "grain (structure)" which refers to the actual arrangement and stratification of a material's constituent fibers or particles.

Greek letters (LCSH)

Green (LSCH)

Harp (LCSH)
Note: Chordophones consisting of a resonator and a neck, between which a series of parallel strings are stretched vertically or diagonally in a plane perpendicular to the resonator.

Halo (Art) Use Nimbus (Art)

Hatching (AAT)
Note: Shading or modeling with fine, closely laid parallel lines.

Heart (Shape) (LCSH)

Hedera
USE
Ivy

Heraldic devices
USE
Devices (Heraldry)

Hexagons (LCSH)

Hour-glasses (LCSH)
Note: Sandglasses for which one hour is required for the given quantity to fall from the upper to the lower vessel.

Infants (LCSH)
USE FOR
Babies

Ivy (LCSH)
USE FOR
Hedera

Jars (AAT)
Note: Deep, wide-mouthed vessels used for holding a variety of substances, usually without handles and generally cylindrical, although sometimes made in other shapes.

Jesters
USE
Fools and jesters

Jongleurs
USE
Minstrels

Knights and knighthood (LCSH)
Note: Use for men, typically of noble birth, who, under European feudalism, held their rank, privileges, and landed estates from higher ranking individuals, in return for service as armed and mounted warriors or for providing another to fulfill this service in their stead. Use also for those who receive the title as a mark of honor and social distinction.

Knots (Motifs) (AAT)
Note: Use for ornamental motifs resembling cords which are interlaced.

Labyrinth pattern
USE
Frets (Patterns)

Lambs (LCSH)

Leather (LCSH)
Note: The skin or hide of an animal that has been tanned to render it resistant to putrefication and relatively soft and flexible when dry.

Leather, Morocco
USE
Morocco leather

Leaves (LCSH)

Lettering pieces (AAT)
Note: Pieces of leather attached to the spines of books bearing letters indicating author, title, or other information.

Lilies (LCSH)

Lilies-of-the-valley (LCSH)

Lions (LCSH)

Lozenges (AAT)
USE FOR
Diamonds (Motifs)
Note: Use for figures that are squares or rhombuses rotated to have their corners on the horizontal and vertical axes. Common as an isolated motif, in a diaper pattern, or in a running series.

Lyre (LCSH)
Note: Chordophones with strings attached to a yoke, consisting of two arms and a crossbar, that lies in the same plane as the soundbox.

Mallets (LCSH)

Mandorla
USE
Almond-Shaped

Medallions (Decorative arts) (LCSH)
Note: Use for round or oval enframements, usually containing figures or ornamental motifs. Primarily found in two-dimensional media, such as textiles, stained glass, and manuscript illuminations; for circular decorated panels in architectural contexts, use "roundels."

Men (LCSH)

Minstrels (LCSH)
USE FOR
Jongleurs

Moldings (LCSH)
Note: Long, regular channels or projections used for finishing and decorative purposes.

Monkeys (LCSH)

Monograms (LCSH)

Moons, Crescent
USE
Crescents (Shapes)

Moorish (AAT)
Note: Refers generally to the style of art, architecture, and material culture created by the Islamic North Africans, including the colonizers of the Iberian Peninsula and their descendants of North African and mixed North African and Iberian lineage. The style predominated approximately from the eighth to the 15th century in Spain and the region of Mauretania in North Africa (now comprised of Morocco and part of Algeria), though it persisted in a smaller way after that and elements are still used today.

Morocco grain (AAT)
Note: Book cloth grain pattern; irregular granular pattern embossed on book cloth in imitation of morocco leather.

Morocco leather (LCSH)
USE FOR
Leather, Morocco

Mullions (AAT)
Note: Slender, vertical, usually nonstructural bars or piers forming a division between doors, screens, or lights of windows.

Nimbus (Art) (LCSH)
USE FOR
Aureola (Art)
Halo (Art)

Onlay (Decoration)
USE
Onlays

Onlay (Technique)
USE
Appliqué

Onlays (ATT)
USE FOR
Onlay (Decoration)
Note: Use for the decorative form created when smaller pieces of a material are attached onto the surface of a larger piece of material; especially used for pieces of leather, paper, or other material laid on the bindings or covers of books for decorative or illustrative purposes.

Ornament, Strap
USE
Strapwork

Ostriches (LCSH)

Ovals (LCSH)

Oxen (LCSH)

Panels (Ornament areas) (AAT)
Note: Areas within an ornamental scheme, usually rectangular and enframed. In bookbinding, also includes spaces on the sides of a book or between the bands on the spine.

Paper (LCSH)
Note: Refers generally to all types of matted or felted sheets or webs of fiber formed and dried on a fine screen from a pulpy water suspension. The fibers may be animal, such as hair, silk or wool, or mineral, such as asbestos, or synthetic. However most paper is made from cellulosic plant fiber, such as from wood pulp, grass, cotton, linen, and straw.

Papier-mache´┐Ż (LCSH)
Note: Pulverized paper made into a water paste with an adhesive binder.

Papyrus (The plant) (LCSH)

Passiflora (LCSH)
USE FOR
Passion flowers

Passion flowers
USE
Passiflora

Pastoral staff
USE
Staff, Pastoral

Patterns, Grain
USE
Grain patterns

Peacocks (LCSH)

Pebble grain (AAT)
Note: An irregular, granulated grain pattern resembling small pebbles, used especially on book cloth and leather.

Pedestals (AAT)
USE FOR
Stands, Pedestal

Pennants (AAT)
Note: Tapering flags.

Piercing (AAT)
USE FOR
Ajourage
Note: Puncturing or perforating, as to create a decorative pattern by removing small pieces of the material, usually metal; original technique done with a chisel but later with a small saw.

Pink (LCSH)

Plant buds
USE
Buds

Plant-derived motifs (AAT)
USE FOR
Decoration and ornament-Plant forms

Plinths (LCSH)
Note: Rectangular or square supporting elements or lower blocks, as for columns, pilasters, or door framing; also solid monumental bases, often ornamented, used to support statues or memorials.

Plumage
USE
Feathers

Pupils
USE
Schoolchildren

Purple (LCSH)

Putti (AAT)
USE FOR
Cherubs
Note: Motifs representing chubby, sometimes winged and naked figures of little boys, derived from Greco-Roman depictions of Eros. Common in art from Renaissance through the 18th century.

Quatrefoils (AAT)
Note: Figures composed of four equal lobes separated by cusps.

Rectangles (LCSH)

Red (LCSH)

Relief (Decorative arts) (LCSH)
Note: Use to describe a surface that has been carved, molded, or stamped so that an image or design projects from or is sunk into a continuous surface.

Ribbons (LCSH)
Note: Use generally for long, thin, flat, flexible strips of any material. Use specifically for strips of fine textile, such as silk, satin, or velvet, often with a cord finish along both edges instead of selvage.

Rollwork
USE
Strapwork

Rope (LCSH)

Roses (LCSH)

Roulettes (Bookbinding)
USE
Fillets (Bookbinding)

Roundels (Circular panels) (AAT)
Note: Refers to circular panels, usually sculptured or otherwise decorated, set as decorative elements in an architectural context. For similarly shaped and decorated motifs in two-dimensional media, use "medallions (ornament areas)."

Rules (Layout features) (AAT)
Note: Plain or decorative linear elements produced as part of a printed page.

Rumi
USE
Arabesques

Sails (LCSH and AAT)

Saint Andrew's crosses (AAT)
USE FOR
Saltires
Note: Crosses in the form of the letter X.

Saltires
USE
Saint Andrew's crosses

Sand grain (AAT)
Note: Irregular book cloth grain pattern imitating the appearance of sand.

Scallop shell (AAT)

Schoolchildren (LCSH)
USE FOR
Pupils
Students

Scrolls (Decorative arts) (LCSH)
USE FOR
Spiral scrolls
Note: General term for motifs consisting of a spirally wound band. For simple motifs of coiled lines, use "spirals"; for scroll-shaped architectural elements use other terms, such as "consoles" and "volutes"; for a series of scrolls, in running or allover patterns, use "scrollwork."

Scrollwork (ATT)
Note: Use for running or allover patterns based on scrolls, which usually branch and flow out from each other. For simple motifs of coiled lines, use "spirals."

Seashells
USE
Shells

Seaweed (LCSH)

Semicircles (AAT)
Note: Plane figures that are halves of a circle divided by the diameter, or the halves of a circle's circumference.

Serpents (LCSH)

Shells (LCSH)
USE FOR
Seashells

Shields (LCSH)
Note: Use for shieldlike motifs, often elaborated with strapwork, scrolls, and mantling.

Silhouettes (LCSH)
Note: Use for portraits cut from paper and mounted on a contrasting background; also, by extension, images showing no interior detail set against a contrasting background

Skull (LCSH)

Spades (LCSH)

Spectacles
USE
Eyeglasses

Spiral scrolls
USE
Scrolls (Decorative arts)

Spirals (LCSH)

Square (LCSH)

Staff, Pastoral (LCSH)
USE FOR
Crosiers
Crozier
Pastoral staff
Note: Staffs resembling shepherds' crooks borne by bishops, abbots, or abbesses, as symbols of the pastoral office.

Stands, Pedestal
USE
Pedestals

Stars (LCSH)
Note: Use for the conventionalized figures derived from astronomical stars, having radiating points of any number.

Stems (ATT)
Note: Slender parts of objects, such as the vertical support of a vessel which unites its bowl to its base or the tubelike portion of a pipe that fits snugly into the bowl.

Stippling (AAT)
Note: Process of marking a surface with small flicks or dots.

Strapwork (LCSH)
USE FOR
Ornament, Strap
Rollwork
Note: Ornament consisting of twisted and intertwined bands, originally based on leather strips or ribbons; popular in Northern Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries and in 19th-century revivals.

Students
USE
Schoolchildren

Suits of armor
USE
Armor

Swords (LCSH)

Tartans (LCSH)
Note: Woolen or worsted twill woven in different colored yarns to produce a multicolored plaid pattern. Originally Scottish, the distinctive designs and colors signified a Highland clan and were worn only by members of that clan.

Tendrils (LCSH)

Terraces (AAT)

Trees (LCSH)

Tracery (AAT)
Note: Ornamental openwork of masonry found in the upper parts of Gothic style windows; also, similar motifs and forms in various materials applied decoratively, as on walls, furniture, and other objects.

Trefoils (AAT)
Note: Figures of three equal arcs or lobes, separated by cusps.

Trellises (LCSH)
USE FOR
Garden lattices
Note: Small arbors, often only two-dimensional, generally used to support climbing plants or as sunshades.

Triangle (LCSH)

Two-headed eagle (Emblem)
USE
Double-headed eagle (Emblem)

Type ornaments
USE
Fleurons (Motifs)

Undy lines
USE
Wave pattern

Vases (LCSH)
Note: Vessels of varying shape and size but which are usually taller than they are wide and which are often cylindrical. Used mainly to hold flowers or for ornamental purposes.

Vignettes (LCSH)
Note: Engravings, drawings, photographs, or other images that are shaded off gradually at the edges.

Walls (LCSH)

Waqwaq
USE
Arabesques

Wave pattern (ATT)
USE FOR
Undy lines
Wavy lines

Wickerwork (LCSH)

Windows (LCSH)

Wings (LCSH)

Women (LCSH)

Zodiac (LCSH)

Zoological motifs
USE
Figure-and animal-derived motifs