Shoptalk: frieze

What is a frieze?


  1. The middle horizontal member of a classical entablature, above the architrave and below the cornice.
  2. A similar decorative band in a stringcourse, or near the top of an interior wall below the cornice.



Friezes range in decorative styling from a plain unadorned band to containing highly decorative elements. Most classical-style buildings have friezes. Friezes date to very early times, and the most famous example is found on the Parthenon in Athens.

According to the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the term “frieze” comes from the French “frise” and the Italian “fregio or from the Latin “phrygium,” which refers to embroidered work. The element dates at least as far back as ancient Greek architecture.

According to Britannica, “The most remarkable frieze ever sculpted was that on the outside of the wall of the cella of the Parthenon representing the procession of the celebrants of the Panathenaic Festival. It was 40 inches high and 525 feet long, being carried round the whole building under the peristyle.”

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