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The pendentive (painted yellow)

A pendentive is a constructive device permitting the placing of a circular dome over a square room or an elliptical dome over a rectangular room. The pendentives, which are triangular segments of a sphere, taper to points at the bottom and spread at the top to establish the continuous circular or elliptical base needed for the dome. In masonry the pendentives thus receive the weight of the dome, concentrating it at the four corners where it can be received by the piers beneath.

Prior to the pendentive's development, the device of corbelling or the use of the squinch in the corners of a room had been employed. The first attempts at pendentives were made by the Romans and full achievement of the form was reached in Hagia Sophiamarker at Constantinoplemarker (6th cent.) by the Eastern Roman Byzantine Empire.

Pendentives were commonly used in Byzantine, Renaissance, and baroque churches, with a drum with windows often inserted between the pendentives and the dome.


Image:Moskau erloeserkathedrale innen.jpg|Arches (left and right), dome (top) and pendentive (centre) in Moscow CathedralmarkerImage:Kostel Nejsvětější Trojice (Fulnek) – frs-002.jpg|Holy Trinity Churchmarker in the Czech RepublicmarkerImage:Pendentifgewolbe alhambra.jpg|Roof pendentive at the AlhambraImage:Schema.pendentif.medieval.png|Formation of a pendentiveImage:Pendentif.eglise.Nantua.png|A pendentive, labelled A

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