Von Der Seben "Number Seven" is a manually printed book consisting of twenty-four linocut prints on the theme of the number seven.
The manifold symbolic meanings of the number seven are deeply rooted in the oral tradition (mythology, fairy tales, religion, superstition), but we still encounter them in the present day, say, for example, when we are in Seventh Heaven. Seven as a number can have positive as well as negative connotations, and often will open itself up to interpretation in various ways; this is the space my book explores by means of illustration.
It is difficult to trace how the number seven was assigned its symbolic meanings, but it is generally assumed that the symbolism of numbers is based on the observation of the natural world.
For example, the rainbow consists of seven colors, the human skull has seven openings. The Babylonians observed that the moon enters a new phase every seven days, which lead to the institution of the seven day week. They also used the number seven as a basis for their calculations in astronomy and architecture.
In numerology the combination of numbers plays an important role, with seven as the sum of the symbolically significant numbers four and three. Three stands for Christianity's trinity, divine unity, and four represents the material world through the elements fire, water, earth and air. In this way, seven unites the divine and the material worlds and thereby achieves numerological perfection.
The pictorial worlds contained within this book are both governed and inspired by the number seven and its various coincidental meanings, removed from its mathematical and structural function. Each page is printed by hand from twenty-four original linocuts. There are, of course, seven chapters.
Photos: James Mckinnon
Text: Riikka Laakso + Manfred Neascher