# PYTHAGORAS' CANVAS

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```					     PYTHAGORAS’ CANVAS
Garrod Musto describes how the work of Tobia Ravà inspired his
students to produce their own ‘mathematical’ art work.

This article seeks to provide an insight into little   Numerical connections within
known numerical methods for deriving meaning           ancient texts
from ancient sacred texts to give an understanding
of some of the symbolism contained in the              Evidence of the use of a correspondence between
wonderful artwork and sculptures of Venetian artist    particular letters and numbers to create a numerical
Tobia Ravà. This is followed by a description of       value for letters and words in Hebrew has been
how students at Kingswood School in Bath were          around since before the time of Christ. The Greeks
inspired by his work to create their own interpreta-   and the Arabs also used such associations. In Greek
tion of nature’s numbers.                              it was known as Isopsephy, and in Arabic it was
called Hisab – al Jumal (literal meaning calculating
Introduction                                           the total). Numerical expressions constructed in
this way could be used within ancient poetry and
Journalist Michael Drosnin came to public attention    literature, especially in the domains of magic,
with the publication of the Bible Code. The book       mysticism, and divination. It was the sum of the
espoused the theory that generating a sequence of      number values of the letters in a word that mattered.
equally spaced letters can create a matrix which            In these circumstances, every word acquired a
contains hidden information. However, if we dig a      numerical value, and conversely every number was
little deeper into history we find that for a very     loaded with the symbolic value of one or more
long time students of the Kabbalah have hypothe-       words that it spelled. However, before we look at
sized that there is information encrypted inside the   some examples of how numbers have interpreted
Torah – the first five books of the bible. One         words within the scriptures, I think it is worth
technique that Talmudic scholars used was called       trying to remember that the religious men who
the Ghematria, (Heb. ‫ ,גימטריה‬ultimately from the      used such methods did so to verify known links
Greek word ‘geometry’ or γεωµετρία) which is           within their sacred texts. Each would load their
numerology of the Hebrew language, and is used by      sermons with numeric data to act as evidence that
its proponents to derive meaning or relative           the scrip
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Description: [...] they could read the passage on two different levels - the mystical and the revealed. Extract taken from Pythagoras' Canvas, Piergiorgio Odifreddi The artist studied semiology as a student of Umberto Eco in Bologna, and from an early stage in his career his artwork has been influenced by his Hebraic culture.\n Recently I had the pleasure of accepting an invitation to the launch of his latest exhibition in Brussels and, despite communication proving problematical as he tried to explain some of the deeper meaning of the Hebrew symbolism in a mixture of English, Italian and French, it was a wonderful experience to see some of his artwork up close, and spend time with the artist to get a real flavour of the passion and creative symbolism that exists within his art.
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