Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Salt Lake Temple Finials

Angel Moroni statues are common on LDS Temples and usually function as their finials (decorative spire tips).  But there are many other finials used.  I thought I'd highlight those on the Salt Lake Temple.
Salt Lake Temple finials.  (original photo here)
Salt Lake Temple Moroni (original)

The Salt Lake Temple has 6 main towers.  One is topped with the Angel Moroni statue which functions as its finial.

Salt Lake Temple finial
The other 5 towers have a detailed copper finial on a granite sphere.  These copper finials used to have light bulbs along their tops and were the original source of tower lighting to the temple.
Salt Lake Temple finials (original)
Each main tower is also surrounded by 12 smaller points with their own finials.  These have a sculpted bud.  One book I read claimed that these might be flames, although I don't buy that interpretation as I think it is pretty clear that they are buds.  As buds they may just be decorative because buds are a very common type of finial in non-religious buildings.  But they may have added symbolism.  In the Bible, Aaron's rod, a symbol of his priesthood authority, was made of wood.  In Numbers chapter 17 we are told that The LORD miraculously made Aaron's rod bud.  It "budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds."  This was symbolic of The LORD choosing the tribe of Levi to hold the priesthood.  After that, the rod was placed in the Ark of the Covenant which was kept in the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple of Solomon.  So having flower buds on the top of the temple is a fitting priesthood and temple symbol.  This also fits because there are 12 bud finials on each tower and 12 is a priesthood symbol and a symbol of Israel.  So the bud finials may have special priesthood and temple symbolism, or they could just be decoration.  Either way, they look good and add to the Salt Lake Temple.

I like all the wonderful details on the Salt Lake Temple.  A few other temples have extra finials such as the San Diego California Temple which is clearly inspired by the Salt Lake Temple.  But I think the Salt Lake Temple is the most detailed with its finials and the most successful in its architecture.,

Feel free to comment and let us know what you think about these neat architectural details.


Brett Stirling said...

A great post. The detailing high up on the SLC Temple is amazing. I love that photo of the man standing on top next to the finials with light bulbs. I marvel at Truman O. Angell's talent and President Young's prophetic vision every time you discover a new detail on the SLC Temple. It is truly breath taking and you can imagine how humbled and grateful the Saints were when it was completed and dedicated.

Chad said...

I read in a book somewhere that the "buds" were pineapples and symbolized royalty. I agree with the leaf or flower bud interpretation more.

Richard Gowen said...

According to The Everlastng Spires they are Acanthus Buds.