Moulding Glossary: Egg and Dart

egg and dart: An ornamental device often carved in wood, stone or plaster quarter-round ovolo mouldings, consisting of an egg-shaped object alternating with an element shaped like an arrow, anchor or dart. Some historians contend this ornamental device is supposed to represent the duality of life (the egg) and death (the arrow).

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9 Responses to Moulding Glossary: Egg and Dart

  1. robert says:

    That looks like a good definition as is.

  2. Sean Wisniewski says:

    Now, this one, I think, is spot on. Looks like an egg and a dart, called an egg and dart. Simple.

  3. BruceL says:

    Two things. I hate to say it but I read this as ‘wood’, ‘stone’ or ‘plaster quater-round ovolo mouldings’ at first. I know – sort of stupid on my part..but…

    The diagram is the key (it is very good), but I couldn’t really visualize the “carved in an ovolo” part from this diagram alone (hence my confusion about the sentence). That diagram combined with one like this one on Wikipedia ( does it for me as I then get how the ovolo relates to the egg and dart.

    And, I never heard this term before – so I am just reacting to your words.

  4. Jonathan P. Szczepanski says:

    I think you can leave out the reference to mediums all together. It would still be an egg and dart if it was in metal or cookie dough.


  5. David says:

    You might choose to add the historical context for this molding – it’s ancient, and typically associated with classical western architecture. Not certain about this, but I’m thinking there are fragments of this type of molding on the Parthenon. This is also sort of obvious, but you may choose to add: “typically made by striking an ovolo with a terminal fillet on the edge of the workpiece, followed by repetitive carving in a specific sequence”

  6. Dean says:

    My definition based on Chris’ and other sources:

    Fillet (fil’it): A narrow, flat elongated area usually set adjacent to or interposed between surfaces within the moulding profile.

    I created the following sentences while trying to come up with a definition for fillet but didn’t use them. I put them here as additional information for whatever they’re worth. They are in no particular order.

    They can be raised or lowered above a common plane to form a ridge or depression whose sides are at right angles to the flat surface. From a French word meaning “thread” or “ribbon”. The flat area can be raised and positioned between two adjacent profiles. Can be used to separate (two surfaces) or areas and border these areas to make them stand out or form visual relief. It can be a right angled channel let into an area, or raised above the common plane forming a ridge, adjacent and parallel to the accompanying shape. It can also be simply a flat surface between two curved surfaces. A small, flat band separating two surfaces. As an example, a fillet can border a half-round surface surrounded by two flat planes (fillets) to form an astragal.

  7. Dean says:

    Alternate definitions for Egg and Dart:

    An edge moulding, usually stamped or carved in sections, of ovoid shapes alternating with vertical arrow-like bars. Said to have been derived from shields and spears.

    A design for enriching an ovolo or echinus, consisting of a closely set, alternating series of oval and pointed forms.

    Definitions for Ovolo and Echinus:

    Echinus (ih-kahy-nuhs) : A name sometimes given to the egg and anchor or egg and dart molding, because that ornament is often identified with the Roman Doric capital. The name probably alludes to the shape of the shell of the sea urchin.

    Ovolo (oh-vuh-loh): A rounded convex molding, often a quarter section of a circle or ellipse.

  8. Dave from IN says:

    Personally, I find the illustrations to be as important to these molding definitions as the text. The problem with a molding of this type, though, is that you have only illustrated one example of the style. Just as with the term “dentil molding” that spans a broad range sub-styles, it is a little hard to get a good idea of the different types of egg and dart without showing two or three different examples. I know that is a fairly major undertaking, and would possibly defeat the whole purpose of trying to have a succinct dictionary/glossary of these terms, but it is an observation. . .

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