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Gift of Gordius Story

A long, long time ago (333 B.C.), in a far off land (a public square in what is now Turkey), a peasant named Gordius was randomly chosen as king. In appreciation, King Gordius dedicated his ox cart to Zeus. He tied the cart to a post using a highly intricate knot, to be forever known as the Gordian Knot. The knot became a sort of tourist attraction and visitors were expected to at least try to solve the puzzle of untying the knot. Eventually one of the oracles in Greek mythology foretold that the person who could untie the knot would rule all of Asia. Who should visit town, but Alexander (soon to be known as "the Great"). The legend has it that Alexander, after contemplating the situation, drew his sword and with a mighty swing of the blade, released the cart. Whether true or not, itís a nice story. Today, the term "Gordian Knot" applies to an apparently insoluble problem requiring a bold and unconventional solution.

This piece, "Gift of Gordius" has its roots with that story. For me, the real gift of Gordius was this fascinating knot, not the sacrifice of his cart to Zeus. Of course, with no beginning or ending, untying it is impossible. As with a few of my other recent pieces, "Gift of Gordius" also celebrates a numeral, in this case, the number three. In addition to the year of this event, many things come in threes: bad luck, wishes, blind mice, acts of a play, musketeers, and porridge-eating bears, just to name a few. Earth is the third planet from the Sun. There are three primary colors and three dimensions to a solid object. The number is also quite significant in the Christian tradition: Christ represents one third of the trinity (the father, son and holy ghost), he was visited by three wise men, and 33 years later, when Peter disowned him three times, he rose on the third day after the crucifixion (he died at 3PM). Coincidently, Alexander the Great was also 33 at his death.

This piece is approximately 33" in diameter and there are three revolutions in the continuous loop. Additionally, there are exactly 3300 pieces of wood in each of the three revolutions.

I would also like to acknowledge the encouragement of British sculptor, John Robinson. Years ago, Mr. Robinson created a similar shaped, large bronze sculpture titled, "Gordian Knot", which provided initial inspiration for this piece.


Malcolm Tibbetts, 738 Modesto Ave, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150 malcolm@tahoeturner.com ©2004