Sundials and Life Mottos

For those of you that don’t know what sundials are, they are old time-telling devices that rely on the position of the sun in the sky to tell the time. During the day, the sun is in different places and will cast shadows upon different parts of the dial to indicate the time. There is a gnomon (usually a wire or rod) which casts the shadow onto the hour lines. 

Sundials date back centuries, the first known records of them date to the Ancient Egyptian and Babylonian time periods – 1500BC. I was going to write about the science behind them, the mathematics and the different designs but something else caught my interest – mottos.

Do you have a life motto?

A motto is described as “a short sentence or phrase chosen as encapsulating the beliefs or ideas of an individual, family, or institution.” The world has many famous mottos from history, institutions, books and movies and famous people. 

But did you know that sundials also have mottos?

Many creators of sundials left behind parts of themselves via engraved mottos. I don’t know about you guys, but the geek in me really wants to go Sundial hunting after learning this. I think it’s fascinating that these beautiful objects have also been given an ounce of personality.

These mottos range from different topics such as life advice, humour and science, and some of them are just pretty incredible. So I thought I’d share some of my favourite ones.

To sit upon a hill, as I do now. To carve out dials quaintly, point by point. Thereby to see the minutes how they run.
— Henry VI, Part 3

The golden threads of time weave such beauteous pictures of the mind and eye.

Let others tell of storms and showers. I’ll only mark your sunny hours.

There are so many mottos and I feel like I could write a whole piece on how beautiful some sundials are but I'll end this here and start campaigning for our very own Saa'i sundial.


Have you come across any Sundial mottos? If so, please share it with us, comment below or tweet us at @saai_timepieces.