Friday, February 22, 2013

Gospels, Opening of Luke's Gospel, Walters Manuscript W.538, fol. 154r

This manuscript was produced at the end of the katholicate of Grigor IV (Tłay) at the monastery of Pawłoskan in Cilicia. The principal colophon on fols. 311r-313v dates the manuscript to 1193 CE (642 AE), and the patron, Bishop Karapet, a resident at the court of Grigor at Hromkla, is recorded in the dedication on fol. 12v. The colophon also records the siege of Jerusalem by Saladin in 1187, the Third Crusade (1189-1192) and Frederick Barbarossa's attempt to reclaim Palestine, and Barbarossa's death in 1190. The Canon Tables and the Eusebian letter within quatrefoil frames are decorated with architectural elements, geometric designs, floral motifs, and birds. The codex is further illuminated with historiated and inhabited initials forming the incipits of the Gospels and marginal decoration.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Gospel Book, Jesus Christ; the Evangelist John, Walters Manuscript W.522, fol. 231r

This Gospel book was likely created in the capital of the Byzantine Empire, Constantinople, in the eleventh century. The manuscript is remarkable on account of its exceptionally small size, as well as the high quality of its script and miniatures. Its extensive image cycle includes six full-page miniatures, four half-page miniatures, four historiated initials, and marginalia.

The Gospel here is preceded by an image of Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word of God, thus illustrating John 1:1.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Fathers of the Solovetsky Monastery and their sufferings, Symbols of liturgical reform, Walters Manuscript W.916, fol. 17r

This manuscript was made around 1800 by an often persecuted group of Russian Christians, the “Old Believers.” Because this group frequently had its books confiscated and was denied the use of printing presses, its members continued to write important books such as this one by hand. This text chronicles and illustrates the story of a group of monks at the Solovetsky Monastery who opposed Nikon’s controversial reforms and endured a siege for eight years (1668-1676) before they were finally betrayed. Most of the monks were killed, though some escaped, and many went to the Vyg region, where the author of this book, Simeon Denisov (1682-1741), was a leader in the Old Believer community.