Sacred Geometry – Man and the Cross

Sacred Geometry – Man and the Cross

Copyright 2013 by A. Sokolowski

Note: This is Part 2 of our original post Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci

In this article we show unexpected discovery: proportions of the human body can be generated by an “unfolded” cube.
This method provides incredibly close approximation of the circle and the square enclosing human figure of the Vitruvian Man drawn by Leonardo da Vinci.


The Vitruvian Man is a world-renowned drawing created by Leonardo da Vinci around the year 1487. It is accompanied by notes based on the work of Vitruvius. The drawing, which is in pen and ink on paper, depicts a nude male figure in two superimposed positions with his arms and legs apart and simultaneously inscribed in a circle and square. The drawing and text are sometimes called the Canon of Proportions or, less often, Proportions of Man. It is stored in the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice, Italy, and, like most works on paper, is displayed only occasionally.

Leonardo da Vinci, Vitruvian Man, 1487, 34.4 × 25.5 cm (13.5 × 10.0 in)

A passage from Roman architect Vitruvius (Marcus Vitruvius Pollio), describing the perfect human form in geometrical terms, was the source of inspiration for numerous renaissance artists. Only one of these, the incomparable Leonardo da Vinci, was successful in correctly illustrating the proportions outlined in Vitruvius’ work De Architectura, and the result went on to become the most recognized drawings in the world, and came to represent the standard of human physical beauty. It was the version produced by Leonardo da Vinci, whose vast knowledge of both anatomy and geometry made him uniquely suited to the task.

The drawing is based on the correlations of ideal human proportions with geometry described by the ancient Roman architect Vitruvius in Book III of his treatise De Architectura. Vitruvius described the human figure as being the principal source of proportion among the Classical orders of architecture. Other artists had attempted to depict the concept, with less success. The drawing is traditionally named in honour of the architect.

The Vitruvian Man image exemplifies the blend of art and science during the Renaissance and provides the perfect example of Leonardo’s keen interest in proportion. In addition, this picture represents a cornerstone of Leonardo’s attempts to relate man to nature. Encyclopaedia Britannica online states, “Leonardo envisaged the great picture chart of the human body he had produced through his anatomical drawings and Vitruvian Man as a cosmografia del minor mondo (cosmography of the microcosm). He believed the workings of the human body to be an analogy for the workings of the universe.” It is also believed by some that Leonardo symbolized the material existence by the square and spiritual existence by the circle. [ Source: ]

Man and the Cross

Let’s start with a sphere with diameter 1 unit. A cube superscribed on this sphere will have each edge equal also 1 unit:


   If we “unfold” the cube we get a cross with 6 squares (each side equal 1 unit of length). The following drawings explain very simple method of generating perfect proportions for the human body (known as Vitruvian Man):


Click to enlarge


Superimposed drawing of the cross and the Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci

Interesting fact

The Second Pyramid (Khafre) shows “Vitruvian Man” proportions

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