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Mechanism synthesis is mostly dependent on the designer's experience and intuition and is difficult to automate. This paper aims to develop a rigorous and precise geometric theory for analysis and synthesis of sub-6 DoF (or lower mobility) parallel manipulators. Using Lie subgroups and submanifolds of the special Euclidean group SE(3), we first develop a unified framework for modelling commonly used primitive joints and task spaces. We provide a mathematically rigorous definition of the notion of motion type using conjugacy classes. Then, we introduce a new structure for subchains of parallel manipulators using the product of two subgroups of SE(3) and discuss its realization in terms of the primitive joints. We propose the notion of quotient manipulators that substantially enriches the topologies of serial manipulators. Finally, we present a general procedure for specifying the subchain structures given the desired motion type of a parallel manipulator. The parallel mechanism synthesis problem is thus solved using the realization techniques developed for serial manipulators. Generality of the theory is demonstrated by systematically generating a large class of feasible topologies for (parallel or serial) mechanisms with a desired motion type of either a Lie subgroup or a submanifold.