Monas Hieroglyphica


This is a whole book about describing this one image/ symbol by John Dee. I think there may be a correlation/ connection between the Title "Mona Lisa" and Monad.(Monad)

  • "Monad (from Greek μονάς monas, "unit" from μόνος monos, "alone"), according to the Pythagoreans, was a term for Divinity or the first being, or the totality of all beings,Monad being the source or the One meaning without division.

    For the Pythagoreans, the generation of number series was related to objects of geometry as well as cosmogony. According to Diogenes Laertius, from the monad evolved the dyad; from it numbers; from numbers, points; then lines, two-dimensional entities, three-dimensional entities, bodies, culminating in the four elements earth, water, fire and air, from which the rest of our world is built up." Link

   How the painting "Mona Lisa" received that as it's title is very complicated. It wasn't until after Leonardo died that his first biographer Vassari gave it the title "Mona Lisa"

  • “Leonardo undertook to execute, for Francesco del Giocondo, the portrait of Mona Lisa, his wife; and after toiling over it for four years, he left it unfinished; and the work is now in the collection of King Fraces of France, at Fontainebleau.”

 There have been many theories and ideas about hidden or a deeper meaning to the title besides it being a shortened "Madame (Mona) Lisa Giacondo." My own theory being it's an anagram for "Mon Salai

A common criticism for that would be that there isn't a connection between Vassari and Leonardo intending for the painting to be titled "Mona Lisa" which would mean that "Mon Salai" is just a coincidence (Even though a portrait of Salai goes over the Mona Lisa) But recently there has been news:

'Lost' Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece may be hidden in 'secret compartment' in Florence palazzo - as hi-tech drill reveals traces of paints used in Mona LisaLink

 It's about Vasari covering up a lost Leonardo painting with one of his own. In the Vassari painting there is a flag that says "Seek and you shall find" and experts are trying to prove that Leo's lost painting is behind Vassari's. This gives more support to my theory that Vassari was involved with a Leonardo "cover up" (Quite literally) so to speak and that the title "Mona Lisa" could have, and isn't as far fetched as it could have seemed before this 'new' connection.

Its very possible that Leonardo, or one of his friends/ apprentices/ associates/ left behind some kind of .. note, instructions, or something for the painting to eventually be titled "Mona Lisa" Specifically. All the previous titles and even Vassari's strange and inaccurate description of the painting allude that this could have been intentional - even though it was trans-generational.

Getting back to "Monad" If Mona was the intended title, it could also be possible that "She" represents a "monad" of humanity/ femininity/ etc. It's also possible that John Dee's "Monas Hieroglyphica" is similar in nature to the painting. Meaning that there are symbols that are purposely imbedded in the painting that have a deeper meaning than a portrait of Lisa G.

  • "The Monas Hieroglyphica (or Hieroglyphic Monad) is an esoteric symbol invented and designed by John Dee, the Elizabethan Magus and Court Astrologer of Elizabeth I of England. It is also the title of the 1564 book in which Dee expounds the meaning of his symbol Dee's glyph, whose meaning he explained in Monas Hieroglyphica as representing (from top to bottom): the moon; the sun; the elements; and fire. The Hieroglyphic embodies Dee's vision of the unity of the Cosmos and is a composite of various esoteric and astrological symbols. Dee wrote a commentary on it which serves as a primer of its mysteries. However, the obscurity of the commentary is such that it is believed that Dee used it as a sort of textbook for a more detailed explanation of the Hieroglyph which he would give in person. In the absence of any remaining detail of this explanation we may never know the full significance of the Glyph."

The text:


It is by the straight line and the circle that the first and most simple example and representation of all things may be demonstrated, whether such things be either non-existent or merely hidden under Nature's veils.


Neither the circle without the line, nor the line without the point, can be artificially produced. It is, therefore, by virtue of the point and the Monad that all things commence to emerge in principle.

That which is affected at the periphery, however large it may be, cannot in any way lack the support of the central point.


Therefore, the central point which we see in the centre of the hieroglyphic Monad produces the Earth, round which the Sun, the Moon, and the other planets follow their respective paths. The Sun has the supreme dignity, and we represent him by a circle having a visible centre. "

The book continues on and gets very detailed- all trying to explain this one symbol. I'm not necessarily saying that there is a direct connection between Mona Lisa and John Dee's Monas Hieroglyphica. I just randomly came across it and hadn't heard of the word "Monad" before. It just seemed that Mona - if that was Leonardo's intended title, could very well be an allusion for "Monad" seeing as she has been referred to being a feminine ideal. It also reminded me of the symbolism and mysteries that Leonardo embedded in the painting that, like the "Monad" require a lot of explanation.

It seems like it's very complicated - and it is. It was suppose to be. It's kind of like naming your child. If you are going to title your Legacy/ best painting then you will try and make it mean something. 

As an example I found titling my book to be very difficult. It changed quite a bit from "Terces" to "Lisa Mona" to the "Anatomy of Mona Lisa" and then Finally "Discovering da Vinc's Daughter" I chose it because of my affection for alliteration, how it sounds, that it describes the contents very well, and it seems mysterious - cause - Leonardo didn't have a "daughter."

@derekbair | |
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