The general evolution of Armenian painting can be traced primarily through illuminated manuscripts. These are fortunately very numerous, in fact surprisingly so when one considers the hazards of constant warfare and the religious persecutions. In their accounts the historians sometimes recall the distractions of large collections, and one such mention will convey an idea of the extent of the losses.
B E A U T Y.
I D E A L I S M. I
N S P I R A T I O N.
I L L U M I N A T I O N.
According to Stephen Orbelian, when the Seljuk Turks captured the fortress of Bałaberd in 1170 they destroyed more than ten thousand manuscripts brought there for safekeeping from the churches and monasteries of Siwnik'.
The vast production of manuscripts can be partly explained by the supreme importance Armenians attached to them its owner as an imperishable treasure set up in heaven. By offering it to a church or to a monastery the donor increased his hopes of salvation, since his name featured from that time on in the daily prayers. The act of copying or of commissioning a manuscript is sometimes compared to that of erecting a church of fashioning a cross, and praised as a pious deed.
AN I L L U M I N A T E D M A N U S C R I P T WITH THE DEPICTION OF
S T. G R E G O R Y O F N A R E K -- THE B R I L L I A N T TENTH CENTURY
MYSTIC POET-PHILOSOPHER WHO IN HIS BREATHTAKING COSMIC --
BOOK OF LAMENT -- HAILS THE GREAT DIVINE UNKNOWN
Ē - ĒUT"WIN [DIVINE ESSENCE OF ALL] AS THE UNMANIFEST--
UNSEEN LIGHT OF THE VISIBLE UNIVERSE.
SANASAR GOSPEL . MATENADARAN MS NO. 7735.
INTERWOVEN [KNOTTED] TRIANGLE LEADING TO A POLE AT THE APEX POINTING
UPWARDS TO THE RED CROSS UPON BLUE FIELD WITHIN GOLDEN-ORANGE CIRCLE.
NOTE THE SIDE KHOY [RAM] SYMBOLS FACING RIGHT AND LEFT.
ALL WITHIN AN ARCH SUPPORTED BY TWO PILLARS.
ECHMIADZIN GOSPEL . MATENADARAN MS NO. 2374 MARGINAL.
TWO SAINTS -- TWO PILLARS SUPPORTING THE COSMIC WHEEL ABOVE.
BOTH SAINTS WITH THEIR RIGHT HAND GIVING THE BLESSED SIGN OF
JOHN THE BAPTIST.
MATENADRAN GOSPEL ILLUMINATED MS NO. 2877. XI-XIITH CENTURIES. P. 136.
THE TREE OF LIFE AND THE COSMIC HIERARCHY WITH THE IMMOVABLE CENTER
[BLACK SUN SURROUNDED BY THE GOLDEN SUN -- SEVEN LAYERS
WITHIN ONE. 3x3 TRIANGLE POINTING UP AND DOWN.
TWO BIRDS [DUALITY] FACING THE APEX [THE POINT OF C O M M U N I O N].
ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT IN GILDED ERKAT‘AGIR, TABRIZ. 1337.
DETAIL. GILDED [THIN PLATES PLACED AS A BACKGROUND] PAGES AND
GILDED LETTERS IS A COMMON MOTIF OF ARMENIAN ILLUMINATION
ADDING UNMATCHED SPLENDOR AND STUNNING GLOW, WHICH ONLY CAME
TO COMPLETE THE RICH AND VIBRANT COLOR PALETTE OF THE MANUSCRIPTS.
A PRAYER BOOK - THE SMALLEST ARMENIAN MANUSCRIPT IN MATENDARAN.
PLACED UPON THE LARGEST [A SMALL PORTION OF WHICH IS SEEN IN THE
BACKGROUND]. THE MŠOY CHASHOTS [HOMILIES OF MUSH] -
WRITTEN IN BEAUTIFUL ERKAT‘AGIR. THE HOMILIES OF MUSH, WERE
SAVED DURING THE GENOCIDE, WHEN TWO ARMENIAN WOMEN WERE ABLE
TO SAVE IT BUY CUTTING IT IN HALF - BURYING ONE HALF OF THE MANUSCRIPT
IN KARIN - AND CARRIED THE OTHER HALF OF THE HUGE MANUSCRIPT ON
THEIR BACK THROUGH THE DESERTS OF DEIR ZOR TO EVENTUALLY SAFETY.
THE PLACE OF THE OTHER HALF WAS TOLD TO A POLISH OFFICER SERVING
IN THE RUSSIAN ARMY WHO WAS ABLE TO RECOVER IT WHEN THE RUSSIAN
ARMY LIBERATED KARIN AND MOST OF WESTERN ARMENIA.
FOLK SINGERS WITH MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS. XIII-XIVTH CENTURY MANUSCRIPT.
Miraculous powers were attributed to some Gospel manuscripts, which fell into
the hands of the infidels was aid to be captive and it was the duty of a
faithful Christian to redeem it, just as he would ransom a prisoner. Time and
again the scribes, in the notices they added to the manuscripts, enjoin the
owner to bury them in time of war. Pious men and women from all stations of life
desired to have, an illuminated one if possible, and the notices have sometimes
preserved touching accounts of entire families, and even of some of their
friends, joining forces in order to acquire this great treasure.
MOGN GOSPEL. MATENADARAN MS NO. 7736. TITLE PAGE OF THE GOSPEL OF MARK.
CHAŠOC‛ MATENADARAN MS NO. 979. P. 156a.
GOD THE FATHER AS A DIVINE SPARK/FLAME
SEVEN RAYS + RAY OF SPIRIT [EIGHT -- UT‛IWN -- ETERNITY -- GODHOOD]
S E V E N MUSICAL NOTES OF INFINITE MELODY.
D O [BEGINNING] . R E. M I. F A. S O L. L A. S I [COMPLETION]. D O [REGENERATION]
XIIITH CENTURY GOSPEL IN THE MUSEUM OF THE HOLY SEE OF ECHMIADZIN.
GOSPEL OF EDESSA [URHA/URFA]. XIITH CENTURY. MATENADARAN MS NO. 7737. P. 335.
K‛E -- 36TH [LAST] LETTER OF THE M. M. ALPHABET [K‛RISTOS -- SALVATION]
IN THE FORM OF SWASTIKA/SPINNING HORNED VIŠAP [DRAGON].
COSMIC HIERARCHY IN THE FORM OF A TRIANGLE. THE APEX UNITES
TWO HAWKS [FACING EAST AND WEST] WITH SPIRALS SPINNING RIGHT AND LEFT.
THE TREE OF LIFE IN A FORM OF A CROSS [CRUX] AXIS ON THE RIGHT MARGINAL.
A R - M A N A
REVIEWING SACRED ARMENIAN TEXTS THAT INCLUDE
[THE ONLY] SURVIVING COPIES
OF CLASSICAL WORKS OF THE WISDOM SCHOOLS OF THE ANCIENT WORLD.
A BEAUTIFUL ILLUMINATED PAGE FROM ONE OF THE NUMEROUS
ST. LAZZARO GOSPELS OF THE MEKHITARIST FATHERS.
These notices also record the difficulties encountered by the monks in the pursuit of their work when, fleeing the invasions, they carried with them a manuscript which they had begun to copy in one monastery, had continued in another and completed sometimes in yet third.
ECHMIADZIN GOSPEL . MATENADARAN MS NO. 2374 MARGINAL.
FOUR TRIANGLES FORM AN ORANGE/GOLD EQUILATERAL SOLAR CROSS
SUPERIMPOSED ON A BLUE FIELD WITHIN A RED CIRCLE.