Text accompanying Leonardo DaVinci's Vitruvian Man
Vitruvius, the architect, says in his work on architecture that the measurements
of the human body are distributed by Nature as follows that is that 4 fingers
make 1 palm, and 4 palms make 1 foot, 6 palms make 1 cubit; 4 cubits make
a man's height. And 4 cubits make one pace and 24 palms make a man; and
these measures he used in his buildings. If you open your legs so much as
to decrease your height 1/14 and spread and raise your arms till your middle
fingers touch the level of the top of your head you must know that the centre
of the outspread limbs will be in the navel and the space between the legs
will be an equilateral triangle.
The length of a man's outspread arms is equal to his height.
From the roots of the hair to the bottom of the chin is the tenth of a
man's height; from the bottom of the chin to the top of his head is one
eighth of his height; from the top of the breast to the top of his head
will be one sixth of a man. From the top of the breast to the roots of the
hair will be the seventh part of the whole man. From the nipples to the
top of the head will be the fourth part of a man. The greatest width of
the shoulders contains in itself the fourth part of the man. From the elbow
to the tip of the hand will be the fifth part of a man; and from the elbow
to the angle of the armpit will be the eighth part of the man. The whole
hand will be the tenth part of the man; the beginning of the genitals marks
the middle of the man. The foot is the seventh part of the man. From the
sole of the foot to below the knee will be the fourth part of the man. From
below the knee to the beginning of the genitals will be the fourth part
of the man. The distance from the bottom of the chin to the nose and from
the roots of the hair to the eyebrows is, in each case the same, and like
the ear, a third of the face.
The preceding is the complete translation of the text accompanying Leonardo
DaVinci's Vitruvian Man. It is actually a translation of Vitruvius, as Leonardo's
drawing was originally an illustration for a book on the works of Vitruvius.
The Notebooks of Leonardo DaVinci
Vol. 1 (of a 2 vol. set in paperback) pp. 182-3
Dover, ISBN 0-486-22572-0