ARMENIA

radio-armenia-live-radio

ARMENIA I. Christian origins – II. Architecture – III. Sculpture and painting. I. Christian origins. The oldest Christian sources attribute the evangelization of Armenia more or less to the 2nd c., under the impetus of the dynasty of Edessa: the apostle Thaddaeus or rather Addai, a Syrian disciple sent to Edessa to cure Abgar is said to have evangelized S Armenia, Bartholomew the N: in any case, ca. 200, numerous Christian foyers are recorded in the region, as Tertullian attests Adv. Jud. 7,4. The first evangelizers thus came from Syria, a fact that explains the derivation of part of the Armenian liturgy from that of the Syrian, even to the use of the same terminology. The definitive conversion of Armenia, according to the first Armenian historians, was the work of St. Gregory the Illuminator Grigor Lousaworic, d. 325 during the reign of Tiridates III 252–330. Some useful information on this is contained in the Life of St. Gregory, of which we have numerous redactions the most important are the so-called Armenian Agathangelos and Greek Agathangelos; see G. Garitte, Documents: these sources, esp. the so-called Historia Agathangeli and Vita Gregorii, also provide precise information on the Armenian baptismal liturgy which, as Winkler has recently clarified The Oldest Armenian Sources, 38-41 was partly modeled on the Syriac liturgy. Later Caesarea of Cappadocia, the city where Gregory settled after having been ordained bishop by Leontius there, became the major pole of attaction of the Armenian church, whose bishops long continued to be appointed by its metropolitan: Nersetes, e.g., was ordained by the famous Eusebius, with magnificent ceremonies see Faustus of Byzantium, Bibliothèque Historique IV, 4, in V. Langlois, Collection, I, 238ff., and organized the Armenian church on the model of the Cappadocian. This period coincides with the division of the country 387 between Romans and Sassanids, and broadly with the episcopate of St. Sahak the Great d. 439, a relative of St. Gregory the Illuminator. During the same period ca. the beginning of the 5th c. the Armenian alphabet was created by Mesrob, showing an influence of Persian, Greek, Syriac, Hebrew etc., a fact which reflects the region’s geopolitical situation, contested between Parthians and Romans, Romans and Sassanids, Byzantines and Arabs. The influence of all of these peoples emerges from an analysis of Armenian artistic culture: the impact of these multiple linguistic contributions led gradually, and with a precise logic, to the full formulation of a genuinely Armenian artistic language, well differentiated from the contemporaneous Byzantine culture. This can be partly imputed to the situation of the Armenian church, separated from the Byzantine by its declared opposition to the Council of Chalcedon, made official from 491 Council of Vagharshapat and confirmed by the Council of Dvin in 527 date disputed. The situation started to change in the 7th c., esp. from the time of Heraclius, a period which saw a temporary rapprochement with the Greek church: under Arab rule there were numerous attempts at reconciliation, all short-lived. At the same time Armenia saw a multiplication of heresies, including the socalled Paulician, which may have exercised an influence on baptism in Armenia. The difficult period ended in the 9th c. with the accession of the Bagratid dynasty: although relations between the Armenian and Greek churches were still difficult, medieval Armenia was born out of this context. II. Architecture. In this melting pot of cultures in continual osmosis, the unifying and distinguishing element Armenian architecture consisted of a powerful wall structure: a curtain of squared blocks filled with rubble composed of tufaceous material and mortar also used for roofing, which conditioned specific choices, both theoretical and formal. The origin of this structure, once attributed to Syria in fact the systems are antithetical is local Urartian see F. de’ Maffei, Rapporti, 275-286. We should also point out that Armenian buildings have no substructure, but rise on a stepped platform. This constitutes a solid belt of foundations: an architecture thus conceived lacks the column as a load-bearing element, for obvious reasons; it is always replaced by the pillar. The dimensions of buildings were in general rather limited, defined by a compact disposition of masses, one of the peculiarities of Armenian architecture. The few openings provide little light; there is no matroneum or atrium. Even the narthex, a characteristic element of “early Christian” architecture, is unheard of in Armenian religious architecture; rather, in the Middle Ages there appears the gavit, a sort of small domed portico in front of the façade, limited to the entrance area, whose functions have not yet been sufficiently clarified. The sources contain information on the oldest Armenian buildings: the martyria built on the place of martyrdom of Sts. Gaiane and Rhipsime and a church, probably episcopal, at Vagharshapat, whose plan, according to Agathangelos, Christ suggested to Gregory the Illuminator in a dream early 4th c.. Khatchatrian has dated to the second half of the 4th c. some funerary complexes divided into three elements cells, hypogeum and stele as, e.g., the mausoleum of Aghtz: a distant Syrian model has been identified with such complexes, though the Armenian solutions have worked out their own linguistic code which differs from that of the prototypes. Surviving evidence for this period is extremely rare: single-aisled buildings of limited dimensions, some of them published by Gandolfo Chiese e cappelle armene; to such buildings at a later date, usually around the 6th c., a small apsed room was added along the S side see village church of Garni, whose liturgical functions are still obscure perhaps functions relating to baptism. Gandolfo has also specified that the common function of such churches was usually martyrial. The most important building of this period was undoubtedly the cathedral of Etchmiadzin whose present version dates partly from the 5th c.; however, underneath remains have been found belonging to the original 4th-c. building and with it the three-aisled church of Qassaq, despite the reconstruction carried out in the following century. The same considerations can be advanced for the Church of St. Sergius at Tekor, with three aisles and polygonal apse, whose primitive 4th-c. nucleus was modified several times over the centuries. Foundations attributed to the 5th c. are more common: among them a particular place is occupied by the Church of Ererouk on the Turkish border, three-aisled with apse enclosed in a straight wall and framed by pastophories. Built using the Armenian mural technique, in plan and elevation the basilica shows precise parallels with contemporary Syrian architecture, both in the presence of two rooms near the façade and the so-called Syrian band which in Syria generally surrounds the entire building like a belt, while in Armenia it emphasizes the openings, and in the pilaster strips that punctuate the outside walls and the small tympanated door ways see Qalb Loze in N Syria, ca. 460. The external porticos, however, belong to the Armenian tradition and are found, e.g., in the more or less contemporary buildings of Dvin cathedral and Tekor, three-aisled with one apse: this plan seems to have been prevalent in the 5th c., as we infer from the analysis of buildings of this period such as the basilica of Tsitsernavank, three-aisled with apse enclosed in a straight wall. Toward the end of the 5th c. came the use of the oldest dome in Armenia, as the remains of the cathedral of Etchmiadzin tend to demonstrate, specifically the phase of Vahan Mamikonian post-480; this new tendency in Armenian architecture found expression in the 6th c. with the domed basilicas of Ptghni and Aroutch. The dome, a structure peculiar to the Armenian tradition, is always set over a square bay an element of probable Sassanid origin; see Sarvistan and Firuzabad and, at least until the early 7th c., the transition from the square to the circle of the dome is marked by the use of Armenian squinch, Strzygowski’s so-called trischernische, later replaced by the pendentive. In this period, besides buildings on the basilica plan, variously interpreted and often combined with a dome, a growing number of circular buildings appear, beginning in fact with the cathedral of Etchmiadzin, probably a tertraconch, a floor plan that was particularly popular in Armenia. The so-called domed basilicas of the 6th c. include that of Ptghni near Yerevan, one of the oldest and most complete examples of this type and the prototype of many 9th- and 10th-c. churches. The 6th c. still continued the archaic type of longitudinal three-aisled basilicas, though in limited numbers: e.g., the Tsiranavor red basilica of Achtarak, built probably by Catholicos Nersetes II 548–557, and the similar basilica of Eghvard, built by Catholicos Moses of Eghvard 574–603. At the turn of the 6th and 7th c., the church of Odzoun represents an important step in the evolution of the domed basilica its dome is set on an octagonal drum and heralds the more mature buildings of the 7th c.: the greater antiquity of this building is given away partly by the lateral porticos, which no longer appear in buildings of the full 7th c. This was the golden age of Armenian artistic culture which, partly thanks to the pro-Greek catholicos Nersetes III “the Builder” 641–661, reached high formal levels: at a time when Byzantium, constrained between Arabs and Slavs, was going through perhaps the darkest moment in its history, Armenia marked its apex, esp. in architectural production more than ever independent of Byzantine tradition which evolved by exploring and devoloping its own ancient traditions, in a primarily historical perspective and with a “modern” mentality. Armenian artistic culture, esp. its 7th-c. output, should thus be seen as a sort of historical island in the sea of the great crisis that the East and West were both going through at that moment, indeed, the very crisis that marked the transition from the ancient to the medieval world. It was in this period that Armenia’s unique lingustic code was elaborated, a code that would constitute the background of medieval artistic manifestations after the crisis that afflicted the region the scene of many battles between Arabs and Byzantines in the 8th and 9th c. The symbol of this happy period, characterized in architecture by a wide variety of floor plans e.g., T’alinn cathedral, triconch with dome, the small Greek-cross buildings of Achtarak the so-called Karmnavor church St. Stephen at Lmbat etc., the tetraconchs of Mastara, Bagaran and Artik, numerous polygonal buildings and more domed basilicas like Aroutch and Bagavan, is the Church of Zvartnots at Vagharshapat, whose liturgical functions have recently been discussed by Kleinbauer see Zvart’nots, 245-262, who pronounced it a theophanic, not sepulchral, martyrium of St. Gregory, which simultaneously functioned as the palace church of the Armenian catholicos. A tetraconch, with exedras opened by columns except for the E exedra, surrounded by an ambulatory and with a rectangular room projecting E the building rises on the spot where, according to legend, the angels in Armenian Zvartnots, the “Watchful Forces” appeared to St. Gregory; built by Nersetes III, it is the point of arrival and simultaneously the point of departure of certain Armenian building experiments. The tetraconchal floor plan was employed in Armenia, where it was particularly popular, from the late 5th c. for Etchmiadzin cathedral: it was probably derived from Syrian architecture, specifically that of N Syria, where this type of building was extremely common see Apamea, Seleucia Pieria, Aleppo, Resafa, Homs, all episcopal churches. That this floor plan was imported is also demonstrated by the use of columns; for reasons of equilibrium, Armenian buildings always used the pillar: in this case, after repeated collapses the intercolumnar spaces were filled in with masonry. The building has rich basrelief decorations, sculptures in the pendentives which appear for the first time in Armenia probably representing the builders of the church, numerous basket capitals a Byzantine tradition with Nersetes’s monogram, inner and outer walls modulated by blind arcades on half-columns probably a Sassanid motif. The construction of Zvartnots was probably an event of great historical importance, as indeed the sources Sebeos and Stephen Asolik attest, so much so that in the same years other similar buildings were begun, such as the churches of Ischchan in Tayk, Nersetes III’s birthplace of which only one conch remains, incorporated into a 10th-c. structure, Bana, dated to the 9th and 10th c. but recently assigned to the age of Nersetes III, Lekit in modern Azerbaijan, and perhaps the “ghost” building of Dvin: still later Zvartnots was the exact prototype for the Church of St. Gregory of Gagik at Ani late 10th c., confirming the validity of the architectural formulas tried out in the 6th and 7th c., which became the presuppositions of the artistic language of medieval Armenia. With the dearth of significant discoveries in the area of the artistic and architectural production of early Christian Armenia, the publication of volumes and essays e.g., those edited by Paul Cuneo in 1988, which include a thorough listing of surviving Armenian monuments from the 4th to the 19th c. has contributed to a deeper knowledge of Armenia’s Late Antique and medieval art, in particular of its architecture and its typological and technical evolution. As is well known, the surviving pictorial evidence from the 4th to the 7th c. is truly sparse, and the sculpture is a function of architecture. In particular, in recent years the origin and development of the “classical” Armenian basilica has been studied three-aisled with barrel ceiling, in brick which represents the most homogeneous and peculiar group of the Armenian Christian architecture of the first period, from the Etchmiadzin cathedral of the first half of the 4th c. on. A peculiar element of these buildings, which determined specific solutions regarding the elevations and the internal space, is the barrel vault, partially resting on T-pillars and partially on the traverse arches, and marking the spatial articulation of the reservoirs. These primitive buildings had a single apse and no pastophories. Also recently confirmed is the typological and formal continuity between some basilicas and rectangular audience halls, with wooden ceilings supported by columns with monumental capitals which divide the space into three aisles e.g., the hall of the palace of Dvin whose models must be found in Sassanid culture. From the Urartian period, however, it is the local culture that played a primary role in the formation of early Christian Armenian architecture, both in the typologies adopted and with respect to certain technical and formal solutions. In the course of the second phase of the formative period 6th-7th c., contemporaneous with the religious unification of the country, after the councils of Dvin of 525 and 552, which sanctioned the independence of the Armenian church from the Byzantine, the central role of the domed church in its most important variants was reemphasized free cross, tetraconchs, corolla, domed longitudinal plans. The other peculiar aspect of the period was the building of important civil residential e.g., Aruc and patriarchal complexes at Dvin and Zvartnots, with plans of Sassanid origin. III. Sculpture and painting. Sculpture is almost exclusively architectural and mostly confined to decorating window arches; motifs include vines, clusters, branches, palmettes and birds. The human figure sometimes appears in the decoration of some steles see the double stele of Odzoun, 7th c., in the surviving pendentives of Zvartnots and Dvin, in some capitals from Dvin showing the Virgin and child, and Christ between angels in a window arch opening onto the S wall of the church of Ptghni, with busts of Christ and saints. At Mren, the tympanum of the W door of the cathedral shows Christ between Sts. Peter and Paul and the donors, an iconography very widespread in Armenia. All these are bas-reliefs, with the human figure usually summarily treated, but always vigorous and expressive. Pictorial evidence of early Christian Armenia is very rare: there are remains of frescoes in the apse vault of the Church of St. Stephen at Lmbat 7th c. and there are the apses of the contemporary churches of T’alinn, Mren and Talich, where sparse fragments of a theophanic vision painted in the background remain. The largest fragment is preserved at Lmbat, with Christ enthroned amid a tetramorph. Only two folios of miniatures are known from this period, with four full-page miniatures on recto and verso in the Etchmiadzin evangelary of 989 Yerevan, Matedanaran 2374, depicting the announcement to Zechariah, the Annunciation, the adoration of the magi and the Baptism, attributed to the 7th c. based on exact comparisons with contemporary monumental painting see Lmbat and sculpture. Stylistically such images show a syncretism between an archaizing trend, recognizable in the details, and a predominant Eastern trend. Regarding the scant pictorial evidence, noteworthy is Mathews’s contribution on the four oldest miniatures of the Etchmiadzin evangelary Mat. MS 2374, olim 229, confirming an early date late 6th– early 7th c. and the eclecticism of the models, which underscore the refinement of Armenian figurative culture in the period before Arab domination. With regard to sculpture, which was said at this time to be ARMENIAN LANGUAGE and LITERATURE 1:246 a function of architecture which emphasized a further peculiarity with respect to Byzantium, i.e., the attention, from the beginning, to the external decoration of buildings esp. noteworthy are some studies on a group of capitals, datable to around the 7th c., in the arcades of the tetraconch churches of Bana and Ishkhani in present-day Turkey, some of which imitate the basket capital with ionic volutes, while others have stylized vegetative ornamentation, Iranian in origin: this is an autochthonous creation that falls outside of the classical orders.Radio Armenia | Live Radio holidaymapq


 ARMENIA

Map of Armenia holidaymapq

 ARMENIA

ARMENIA | INSCAPE CULTURAL STUDY SOCIETY holidaymapq

 ARMENIA

Places to visit in Armenia | Armenia Tourist Attractions holidaymapq

 ARMENIA

15 beautiful reasons to fall in love with Armenia – Ayas Tour blog holidaymapq

 ARMENIA

Armenia Tourism: Best of Armenia 2016 – TripAdvisor holidaymapq

 ARMENIA

Leave a Reply