Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.


bands or bars of stone, wood, or other material, either subdividing an opening or standing in relief against a wall and forming an ornamental pattern of solid members and open spaces. The term refers especially to the subdivisions in the arched openings of Gothic architecture. In Romanesque design the enclosing of twin openings within a single arch created a wall space above them, where a circular or quatrefoil opening was pierced as an ornament. This plate tracery became more complex in 12th-century rose windows of the Cathedral of Chartres and in early Gothic English churches. Later, windows became larger, areas of solid stone smaller, and masonry members more slender; the patterns in the spaces above the arches were created by bars of stone rather than by a pierced design. Such bar tracery (e.g., in the cathedral at Reims) prevailed in both France and England by the first half of the 13th cent., creating circles, trefoils, quatrefoils, and other varied geometrical designs. The terminations of these shapes, termed cusps, were finished in square or sharp points or in ornamental blobs. Tracery came gradually to be used also for ornamenting buttresses, gables, spires, interior walls, and choir screens. In France, Rayonnant-style tracery was marked by a multiplication of thin vertical bars within a rational, geometrical order. In England there appeared in the mid-13th cent., mainly in window heads, a new curvilinear tracery of free, flowing curves. The French developed that type into the elaborate, flamboyant tracery of the 15th cent., which produced windows and architectural adornment of amazing lightness and intricacy, as in the cathedral at Rouen and in the wood choir stalls of Amiens. In England, however, the flowing forms were abandoned c.1375, and emphasis passed to perpendicular mullions running the entire height of the windows. By the early part of the 16th cent. the severe tracery of the Perpendicular style, with its closely spaced verticals, was dominant in both windows and wall adornment, providing a contrast to the elaborate fan vaulting, as in the Henry VII Chapel in Westminster and King's College Chapel, Cambridge. Medieval tracery achieved extraordinary effect in the great French rose windows of stained glassstained glass,
in general, windows made of colored glass. To a large extent, the name is a misnomer, for staining is only one of the methods of coloring employed, and the best medieval glass made little use of it.
..... Click the link for more information.


The curvilinear ornamental branch-like shapes of stone or wood, creating an openwork pattern of mullions; so treated as to be ornamental; found within the upper part of a Gothic window or opening of similar character.

bar tracery

A pattern formed by inter-locking branching mullions within the arch of Gothic window tracery.

blind tracery

Any tracery that is not pierced through.

branch tracery

A form of Gothic tracery in Germany in the late 15th and early 16th century made to imitate rustic work with boughs and knots.

fan tracery

A tracery on the soffit of a vault whose ribs radiate like the ribs of a fan.

geometric tracery

Gothic tracery characterized by a pattern of geometric shapes, as circles and foils.

intersecting tracery

Any tracery formed by the upward curving, forking and continuation of the mullions, springing from alternate mullions or from every third mullion and intersecting each other.

panel tracery

Gothic style window tracery in sections within a large opening.

perpendicular tracery

Tracery of the Perpendicular style with repeated perpendicular mullions, crossed at intervals by horizontal transoms, producing repeated vertical rectangles which often rise to the full curve of the arch.

plate tracery

Tracery whose openings are pierced through thin slabs of stone.

reticulated tracery

Gothic tracery consisting mainly of a net-like arrangement of repeated geometrical figures.


The curvilinear openwork shapes of stone or wood creating a pattern within the upper part of a Gothic window, or an opening of similar character, in the form of mullions which are usually so treated as to be ornamental. By extension, similar patterns applied to walls or panels. See bar tracery, branch tracery, fan tracery, etc.


Archit a pattern of interlacing ribs, esp as used in the upper part of a Gothic window, etc.
References in periodicals archive ?
As for the gable tracery, for a later, more sensitive Surveyor, William Lethaby, this was 'probably the most remarkable example of early tracery in England'.
Astronomers had expected airborne equipment to reveal more delicate tracery in the corona than is seen from the ground.
Black ringlets escaped the twisted silver of her headdress, and as she came nearer Nick could see the delicate tracery of veins mapping breast and wrist.
Even when Forg introduces overlays of color, as well as monochromatic bricks topped with linear tracery, the paintings fail to recede into illusionistic space.
1,2) Biopsy of the duodenal bulb and second portion, the duodenal mucosa showed alteration of its architecture, with marked enlargement of the villi due to the accumulation of histiocytes with eosinophilic and tracery cytoplasm in the chorion, (Figs.
The unglazed edge they sit on becomes in the finished piece a solo tracery in its own right despite being an inseparable part of the whole.
The sun was going down in bands of burnt orange and purple with the stark black tracery of the bare trees silhouetted against the sky.
Patterns include ribbon candy stripes, large florals, trellis fabrics, China Seas and tracery patterns.
Warping is visible in the tracery, accommodating differences in the masonry shell as it takes up the inconsistencies of bay dimensions.
The carved head of the stick depicts St Cuthbert, a Celtic cross, tracery from the Lindisfarne Gospels and early Greek symbols of Christianity, made from a single sheep horn with a stripped chestnut shank.
They rise in smoke above the burning city, Faint clouds, dissolving into sky - And who sifting the Libyan sand can find The tracery of a human hand, The faint impression of an absent mind, The fade-out of a soldier's day dream?
Instead, a wall and bits of tracery describe a shallow niche, as if this is a grouping of statues in a church.