Finials are used extensively as a decorative feature, architectural detail, for furniture, clocks, cabinets, mirrors, balustrades, fence posts, bed posts, curtains, flag poles, any restoration or repairing vintage of antique or even new objects in general. They are actually the final touch in decorating and in architecture, combining fashion and function. Whether it’s the industry or used for individual design finishing, refurbishing your woodworking project, is done with finials. More and more they are resurging in popularity, mostly as decorative accessories on lamps and curtain rods.
My husband and his dad used loads of them as replacement parts on old clock cases or as ornaments for new cases. His dad was always on the look out for some vintage ones, to fulfill his clock repair or decoration needs. And guess who found loads of them on the attic!
Smooth and ready to use on furniture, crafts, a nice turned finial will stylishly finish your project, adding warmth, charm and value. They’ll top off your wooden furniture or decorative home accent projects.
Curtain rods are often tastefully finished with finials at both ends, to provide the finishing touch to dressing any window.
In ancient history the Greeks used them in obelisks, flames, urns and many different shapes and designs were used. They were mostly made of wood, although brass or ivory were used as well on clocks and mirrors.
The first ones to appear in history were the ones on the pagodas in 711 AD, representing Buddhist deities situated high above humanity. They are the identifiers for collectibles by their style and type.
Basically they are fitted to decoratively emphasize the gable end or apex of the roof. Of course they add architectural detail and character to the roof of a property, but more than just a decorative element, they served in architecture a more practical purpose. Metal finials at the top of a building still serve as lightening rods and prevent pigeons from roosting on the buildings. In Gothic architecture they were used as a weighting element to keep buttresses aligned. Because of archaeological findings we know that also the Romans decorated their roofs with them.
Another practical use of them is on flagpoles, the ball shaped finial on flagpoles prevents the flag from tangling up on the top and makes lowering and putting up the flag easier.
They come in all different kinds and shapes and of course in France the “Fleur- de-Lis” is prominent omnipresent. First used by King Louis VII as a symbol on his shield, it was later adopted by the English kings and even by the Roman Catholic Church to represent the Virgin Mary and the Holy Trinity, due to its three-petal design. Today, this symbol can be found representing many different cities, such as Quebec, Canada and St. Louis, Missouri.
Another famous model for a finial is the pineapple, the symbol served to guests for hospitality in colonial times. Pineapples were served for dessert only when company came to visit. A guest who slept in a bed with posts adorned with carved pineapples received the ultimate sign of respect and hospitality. So understand pineapple finials on gateposts or as fountains for the garden!
The use of the pineapple shape started with seafaring captains who used to impale fresh pineapples on top of porch railings. This showed passersby that the man of the house was home and visits should be short.
In China, a finial was worn on top of the uniform hats of officials during ceremonies and then replaced with a plain ball for daily activities.
The Taj Mahal, the most beautiful temple in the world (despite the fact that it was built at the cost of much human life), a mausoleum located in Agra, India, built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife, Mumtaz, is a real monument of one man’s love for a woman. A myth suggests that beating the silhouette of its finial will cause water to come forth.
So imagine what could you realize with a finial… check them out in the Woohoocuties’ shop, they’re waiting!