The Testimony of Inscriptions in Their Iconographical and Historical Context in the Church of the Transfiguration at Sotera (Famagusta District, Cyprus) (work in progress)

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The Testimony of Inscriptions in Their Iconographical and Historical Context in the Church of the Transfiguration at Sotera (Famagusta District, Cyprus) (work in progress)
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  1 Emmanuel Moutafov  Te estimony of Inscriptions in Teir Iconographical and Historical Context in the Church of the ransfiguration at Sotera (Famagusta District, Cyprus) 1   Not all the fragments of the extant murals at the Church of the rans-figuration, in the village of Sotera bear inscriptions. I endeavour to present here the messages of fragmentary letters and texts from east to west, north to south, and from the top downwards. Te inscriptions in this chapter are put as much as is possible into their painterly context and relation with representations not signified in letters. All the observations herein have been made de viso given the monument’s state of repair by August 2018.Tere is a pilaster projecting from the north wall on which the first arch of the naos rests, herein referred to as the north pilaster 3, with St Peter depicted on it. An inscription with the name of Christ’s disciple has been lost, but it must have read (ὁ ἅγιος   Πέτρος) by analogy with the op- 1 Tis text was written by the kind invitation of Dr. Maria Parani, who facilitated my work with the inscriptions and photos in situ, for which I am very grateful.  Emmanuel Moutafov. Te estimony of Inscriptions in Teir Iconographical and Historical Context 2 posite representation on the south wall of the naos. It is undoubted-ly a representation of this saint,  judging by the keys hanging over his chlamys. On the other hand, the scroll of the saint reads ( Fig.  1):ΑΔΕΛΦΟ[Ι]ΠΑΡΑΚ[Α]ΛΟ ΗΜΑ[C]OC ΠΑΡΙΚ(ΟΥΣ)ΚΑΙ ΠΑΡΕΠΙΔΗΜ(ΟΥΣ)ΑΠΕΧΑΙ(ΣΘΑΙ)[ΤΩ]Ν CΑΡ(ΚΙΚΩΝ)  Unpublished  . Uncials with  few minuscules. Accents and breathings indicated. Abbrevia-tions at the end of lines 4, 6, 7, 8. No punctuation.Diplomatic transcription:  Ἀγαπητο[ί]| παρακαλό ἠμά[ς]| ὁς παρί(κους)| καὶ παρε|πιδήμ(ους)| ἀπέχαι(σθαι)| [τῶ]ν σαρ(κικῶν) Edited text:  Ἀγαπητοί, παρακαλῶ ἠμάς ὡς παροίκους καὶ παρεπιδήμους, ἀπέχεσθαι τῶν σαρκικῶν (ἐπιθυμιῶν, αἵτινες στρατεύονται κατὰ τῆς ψυχῆς…)  Translation : Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, (which wage war against your soul). (KJV) Fig. 1.  Scroll of Apostle Peter (detail), mural painting from the Church of the ransfiguration in Sotera village, 13th c., photo credit: Emmanuel Moutafov   3 Emmanuel S. Moutafov. Te estimony of Inscriptions in Teir Iconographical and Historical Context Te text really belongs to St Peter, cf. 1 Pet. 2:11: Ἀγαπητοί, παρακαλῶ ὡς παροίκους καὶ παρεπιδήμους, ἀπέχεσθαι τῶν σαρκικῶν ἐπιθυμιῶν, αἵτινες στρατεύονται κατὰ τῆς ψυχῆς… Te quote from the Acts is fair-ly well written where allowable phonetic spellings are witnessed such as παρί(κους) instead of παροίκους (Iotacism (<Ι> = <ΟΙ>); ἀπέχαισθαι in-stead of ἀπέχεσθαι (monophthongisation (<Ε> = <ΑΙ>); παρακαλό instead of παρακαλῶ (isochronism (<O> = <Ω>). Palaeographically, the specific way of writing αὶ in minuscules in καὶ at the beginning of the first line of the scroll is what draws attention. Stylistically, St Peter from the church in Sotera looks much like St Peter next to the north entrance to the Church of the Most Holy Mother of God of 1280 in the village of Moutoullas, but the latter mural painting is damaged not allowing to speculate whether he holds a scroll or what is the text in it. 2  In any event, St Peter’s representation at Sotera seems to me to be earlier. On the other side of the north entrance at Moutoullas, St George riding a white horse 3  is depicted and the inscrip-tion containing his name features a Δ, which looks much like the rendering of the same letter, for example, in παρεπιδήμους. In other words, I believe that the two monuments are close in time with Sotera preceding the mu-rals at Moutoullas.Over the representation of St Peter on the north part of the arch (north pilaster 3), Prophet David is depicted ( Fig. 2). Next to the halo of the saint, the inscription (ὁ προφήτης) Δαυὶδ   has survived, while his scroll reads:Η ΠΑΡΘΑΙΝΟС СΥΜΑΙ(ΡΟΝ) Unpublished. Uncials with minuscules at the end of line 2 (αὶ). Two accents indicated. No punctuation and abbreviations.Diplomatic transcription : Ἡ Παρθαί|νος σύμαι(ρον)  Edited text  : Ἡ Παρθένος σήμε(ρον, τὸν ὑπερούσιον τίκτει...)  Translation : oday the Virgin (gives birth to Him who is above all being…) 2 Stylianos Perdikis, Ο ναός της Παναγίας στον Μουτουλλά . Nicosia 2009, p. 35. 3 Perdikis,  Ο ναός της Παναγίας στον Μουτουλλά . Illustration on p. 44.  Emmanuel Moutafov. Te estimony of Inscriptions in Teir Iconographical and Historical Context 4 Te text is not typical of David the Prophet because it is associated with the nativity of Christ, drawing on the Christmas kontakion  by Romanos the Melodist. Te replacing of ε with αι in Παρθαίνος and σύμαιρον has been made rather by analogy at the end of the two lines in the same scroll. Striking is also the similarity in the rendering of αι in σύμαι(ρον) with αὶ in καὶ at the beginning of the fih line of St Peter’s scroll. Te most interesting though is the stylised lettering of the name Δαυὶδ, which is strikingly rem-iniscent of the way in which Γαυριὴλ (sic! Γαβριὴλ) is written in the apse of another church in Cyprus, that of the Most Holy Mother of God of 1280 in Fig. 2. Prophet David, mural painting from the Church of the ransfiguration in Sotera village, 13th c., photo credit: Emmanuel Moutafov   5 Emmanuel S. Moutafov. Te estimony of Inscriptions in Teir Iconographical and Historical Context the village of Moutoullas. 4 Over the representa-tion of David the Proph-et, a fragment of a mural painting without an in-scription is discernible, featuring seven female figures with halos. Tree of them are depicted in the foreground standing in prayer. Over this group in the arch, the images of two young sitting saints have survived. I’d touch upon their identification below with regard to the description of personages and scenes from the same section of the church.At the level of St Peter, on the north arch, from east to west or on the north pilaster 3, Holy Martyr Nicon is repre-sented: ὁ ἅγιος Νίκον (sic! Νίκων) ( Fig.  3) with Holy Martyr Hermolaus over him (ὁ ἅγιος Ἑρμόλαος (ΕΡΜΟΛΑΟC). It is very possible that over St Her-molaus, who is an an-argyros, another healer saint has been painted, St Panteleimon, because to the right of the saint’s halo on the damaged mural painting … (ἀνά)ργυ(ρος?) ( Fig.  4) is discernible. Te assumption that it is St Panteleimon is based on the fact that the saint is young, curly-haired and 4 Perdikis, Ο ναός της Παναγίας στον Μουτουλλά. First illustration on p. 12. Fig. 3. St Nicon, mural painting from the Church of the ransfiguration in Sotera village, 13th c., photo credit: Emmanuel Moutafov 
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