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A quincunx of pips on the fifth side of a die

A quincunx /ˈkwɪn.kʌŋks/ is a geometric pattern consisting of five points arranged in a cross, with four of them forming a square or rectangle and a fifth at its center.[1] It forms the arrangement of five units in the pattern corresponding to the five-spot on six-sided dice, playing cards, or dominoes. It is represented in Unicode as U+2059 five dot punctuation or (for the dice pattern) U+2684 die face-5.

Historical origins of the name[edit]

The quincunx was originally a coin issued by the Roman Republic c. 211–200 BC, whose value was five twelfths (quinque + uncia) of an as, the Roman standard bronze coin. On the Roman quincunx coins, the value was sometimes indicated by a pattern of five dots or pellets. However, these dots were not always arranged in a quincunx pattern.


Quincunx patterns occur in many contexts:

The flag of the Solomon Islands features a quincunx of stars.
A quincuncial map
Cosmatesque pavements with the quincunx pattern

Literary symbolism[edit]

Various literary works use or refer to the quincunx pattern for its symbolic value:


  1. ^ Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 10th ed., as quoted by Pajares-Ayuela (2001).
  2. ^ Gourley, Joseph Harvey (2008), Modern Fruit Production, Read Books, pp. 106–107, ISBN 978-1-4437-2606-1 .
  3. ^ Chambers, Mike (February 27, 2001), "NVIDIA GeForce3 Preview", NV News .
  4. ^ Knabner, Peter; Angermann, Lutz (2003), "1.2 The Finite Difference Method", Numerical Methods for Elliptic and Parabolic Partial Differential Equations, Texts in Applied Mathematics 44, Springer-Verlag, pp. 21–29, ISBN 978-0-387-95449-3 .
  5. ^ R. Krautheimer, Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture, 1965
  6. ^ Angkor Wat : Image of the Day
  7. ^ Pajares-Ayuela, Paloma (2001), "The Signification — The Cosmatesque Quincunx: A Double-Cross Motif", Cosmatesque ornament: flat polychrome geometric patterns in architecture, W. W. Norton & Company, pp. 196–246, ISBN 978-0-393-73037-1 .
  8. ^ Gilbert, Steve (2000), Tattoo history: a source book : an anthology of historical records of tattooing throughout the world, Juno Books, p. 153, ISBN 978-1-890451-06-6 .
  9. ^ a b Turner, Robert (2005), Kishkindha, Osiris Press Ltd, p. 53, ISBN 978-1-905315-05-5 .
  10. ^ Daye, Douglas D. (1997), A law enforcement sourcebook of Asian crime and cultures: tactics and mindsets, CRC Press, p. 113, ISBN 978-0-8493-8116-4 .
  11. ^ Vigil, James Diego (2002), A rainbow of gangs: street cultures in the mega-city, University of Texas Press, p. 115, ISBN 978-0-292-78749-0 .
  12. ^ Baldayev, Danzig (2006), Russian criminal tattoo encyclopedia, Volume 3, FUEL Publishing, p. 214 .
  13. ^ Sherwood, Dane; Wood, Sandy; Kovalchik, Kara (2006), The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Not So Useless Facts, Penguin, p. 48, ISBN 978-1-59257-567-1 .
  14. ^ Allday, Jonathan (2000), Apollo in Perspective: Spaceflight Then and Now, CRC Press, p. 77, ISBN 9780750306454, "The engines were arranged across the base of the stage in the same pattern as the dots on a number 5 domino" .
  15. ^ Gosse, Edmund (1905), Sir Thomas Browne, English men of letters, Macmillan & Company, pp. 123–124 .
  16. ^ Lobner, Corinna del Greco (1989), "Equivocation As Stylistic Device: Joyce's "Grace" and Dante", Lectura Dantis 4 ; for additional work on this instance of the quincunx pattern, see Duffy, Charles F. (1972), "The Seating Arrangement in 'Grace'", James Joyce Quarterly 9: 487–489 .
  17. ^ Gifford, James (1999), "Reading Orientalism and the Crisis of Epistemology in the Novels of Lawrence Durrell", CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture 1 (2), "the most dominant formal element expressing this state of multiplicity in The Avignon Quintet is its quincunx structure" .
  18. ^ Onega, Susana (2000), "Mirror games and hidden narratives in The Quincunx", in Todd, Richard; Flora, Luisa, Theme Parks, Rainforests and Sprouting Wastelands: European Essays on Theory and Performance in Contemporary British Fiction, Costerus New Series 123, Rodopi, pp. 151–163, ISBN 9789042005020 .
  19. ^ Horstkotte, Silke (2005), "The double dynamics of focalization in W. G. Sebald's The Rings of Saturn", in Meister, Jan Christoph, Narratology Beyond Literary Criticism: Mediality, Disciplinarity, Narratologia : contributions to narrative theory 6, Walter de Gruyter, pp. 25–44, ISBN 9783110183528 .
  20. ^ Heaney, Séamus (1995), "Frontiers of Writing", The Redress of Poetry: Oxford Lectures, Faber and Faber, pp. 186–202 .
  21. ^ Corcoran, Neil (1999), Poets of Modern Ireland, SIU Press, p. 62, ISBN 9780809322909 .