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                                                                                                                                                                             Nino Kavtaria

The 11th century Illustrations of Mandylion and Abgar's cycle from Georgian Manuscript A-484  in the context of the Byzantine Book Art

The paper is an attampt at studing the illustrations of the apocryphal cycle of Abgar, king of Edessa, as exemplified by Georgian Gospel-Book A-484 (the co-called Alaverdi Gospel, manuscript made and illustrated at the Georgian scriptorium of Kalipos monastery on the Black Mountain, near Antioch before 1055).  
abgar Next to the traditional elements, manuscript includes the text of the correspondence between King Abgar and Christ, "Epistle of King written to Our Lord, Jesus Christ" and the history of baptism of Edessian King.
The story of King Abgar miraculous recovery from illness when Christ sent him Mandylion with an impression of His Face has a Syriac background. The tradition of attaching this story to the Gospel text can be found only in Georgian manuscripts. Most Greek manuscripts containing the illustrated story are menologies or epistle texts. In A-484, five scenes have been inserted in the text: 1.King Abgar sending a letter to Christ (f.216v): 2.Christ answering the King (f.318r); 3.The Mandylion (f.320v): 4. a view of the city Edessa (f.321v): 5.King Abgar's baptism(f.323v).
A detailed comparative, iconographic analysis of the miniatures has shown that brief, arcahaic version of the text offers a corresponding laconic depictions. Miniatures of Abgar legend, used in the illumination of A-484, illustrate a combination of two motifs: correspondence and the theme of Mandylion.mandylion
Our research is directed towards the investigation of parallels in Byzantine Art. This investigation leads to specific conclusions about iconography of this cycle.
The master of Alaverdi Gospel inserts this cycle into the Georgian Gospe-Book as the reflection of Symbol, connected with the Idea of  Incarnation and with the including of "historical" scenes crestes one of the earliest original interpretation of Abgar's story's illustrated cycle, with its own artistic-aesthetic, historical and theological significance.

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 last updated: 20.04.2006
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