Patera (architecture)

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Gothic arch with paterae on a doorway on Strada Nuova in Venice

In architecture, patera (pl. paterae) is an ornamental circular or oval bas-relief disc.[1][2] The patera is usually used to decorate friezes and walls, and to interrupt moldings.[3] Patera is also used in furniture-making. It can be carved, incised, inlaid, or even painted.[4][5]


The patera is found in the ancient Roman architecture and in almost all later western styles of architecture.[6] The patera is used both within the civil and church architecture is usually made of marble or Istrian stone. It has a variable diameter between 20 and 80 cm, while the thickness is around 10 cm. The subject represented in the bas-relief is generally of floral or animal type, but there are also figures symbolizing trades or people.[7] Being mainly a decorative element, the patera may also perform an apotropaic function to keep away evil spirits.



  1. ^ "Fragment of Roman frieze(?) enrichment: a patera with a floral centre". CollectionsOnline. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  2. ^ Saylor, Henry H. (1994). Dictionary of Architecture. John Wiley & Sons. p. 128. ISBN 9780471756019. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  3. ^ Parker, John Henry (1845). A Glossary of Terms Used in Grecian, Roman, Italian, and Gothic Architecture. J.H. Parker. p. 274. Retrieved 3 September 2019. patera architecture.
  4. ^ Furniture, Mackinnon Fine (6 August 2019). "The ABCs of Decorative Arts: Patera". The Source. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  5. ^ "Patera and Paterae". Lynn Byrne. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  6. ^ "Patera". Buffalo as an Architectural Museum. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  7. ^ Scott, Ann Reynolds (2008). Cosa: The Black-glaze Pottery 2. University of Michigan Press. p. 62. ISBN 9780472115853. Retrieved 3 September 2019.