TRIPTYCH (Gr. Tpiirrvxos, three-fold, made in three layers, rpi-, rpeis, three; irrux'7, a fold, irrvcata>, to fold, double over), 1 Other suggested derivations are from rptfiu, ai>X<u (AXai), the " grain crusher," or from irt>\tiuK (= " triple fighter," see DEMETER).
a painting, carving or other decorative design, executed on three compartments or panels, so constructed that the two wings may fold on hinges over the centre-piece; the backs of the wing-pieces are often also painted, carved or otherwise decorated. The subject of the side-pieces are usually appropriate and subsidiary to, that of the centre. The triptych is most frequently designed as an altar-piece. An earlier use of the term is for a set of three wooden or ivory writingtablets, hinged or otherwise fastened together, the central tablet being waxed on both sides for the impression of the stilus or writing implement, the outer tablets only on the inside. The three tablets thus formed a small book.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)