The Number Four

I was listening to Alex Bellos on favourite numbers on Radio 4 and was fascinated to know that he had created a survey website asking people for views on their favourite numbers.

I went to this and informed that my favourite was four, my birthday.  Also the sum of 1 and 3, 13 being an auspicious number as I was treated once as child to go and see Peter pan on Friday 13th.  I also mentioned that I liked to collect Macedonian tetradrachms.

I see in Wikipedia that four is considered by the Chinese to be inauspicious as nearly homophonous to the word death, fourteen is even worse “shi si” which sounds like “ten die” in Mandarin.  In East Asia some buildings do not have a fourth floor.  Eight however in Chinese culture is auspicious as it is similar to the word for wealth or prosper. The Summer Olympics in Beijing was scheduled to open on 8/8/08 at 8:08:08 p.m.

Back to four – Judaeo/ Christian symbolism – The Tetragrammaton is the four-letter name of God. The four matriarchs of of Judaism are Sarah, Rebecca, Leah and Rachel.  Perhaps not so good is that the four horsemen of the Apocalypse ride in the book of Revealation.  In the Kabbalah, there were four worlds of the Tree of Life. There are four creatures on the arms of Freemasonry, four primary mental functions according to Carl Jung, and four dimensions of modern science: length, breadth, width, and time.  According to Plato the four virtues were wisdom, courage, self-control, and justice.  Four is the smallest number of colors sufficient to color all planar maps.

൪ Malayalam:   四,亖,肆 Chinese: ארבע   Arba – Hebrew:   ٤,4,۴, Arabic

What else is there to say about a number.



About Richard Stokes

Richard Stokes. Childhood spent in Milford-on-Sea. Now lives in Bridport (recent move). Educated in Art Schools - Winchester, Birmingham and Portsmouth. Worked as art administrator: Ikon Gallery, Birmingham; Midland Group, Nottingham; West Midlands Arts, Birmingham; Gateshead Garden Festival; Arts Council; Minories Art Gallery, Colchester; West Midland Arts. Also involved with the former Limpets Restaurant. Keen sailor.
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2 Responses to The Number Four

  1. A good discussion can be started on this post,as I do not fully agree with you, but nevertheless,good post.

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