FOUR GOSPELS, in Armenian, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON PAPER [Bagrewand], 1692
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FOUR GOSPELS, in Armenian, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON PAPER [Bagrewand], 1692

Details
FOUR GOSPELS, in Armenian, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON PAPER [Bagrewand], 1692
208mm x 150mm. 301 leaves, two columns of 21 lines written in black ink in a large elegant bolorgir hand between vertical rulings in red, justification: approximately 140 x 80mm, rubrics in red, blue and gold, two- to four-line chapter initials throughout, mostly in the form of birds, FOUR FULL-PAGE MINIATURES AND FOUR ARCHITECTURAL HEADPIECES with large initials and panel borders, numerous border illustrations of figures, birds, crosses and floral motifs (occasional slight rubbing to gold, minor waterstaining to upper corners of some leaves, 12 leaves from smaller paper stock, extended to size, one leaf with neat marginal tear). 17th-century blind-stamped leather over wooden boards, the upper cover applied with a brass cross set with a red stone, the lower with a cross set with mother-of-pearl and with engraved Armenian inscription, 3 modern straps (extremities rubbed).

PROVENANCE:

The colophon on ff.297-300 records the copying of the manuscript 'in bitter times' in the town of Bagrewand, in the village of Mangasar at the church of the Holy Virgin Mary (Theotokos). It is dated 1141 in the Armenian era (1692 AD) by the scribe and artist Zak'aria during the catholicate of Nahapet (1st Edesatsi, 1691-1707); the manuscript was made for his pilgrim ('mahdesi') parents, his father Ter Yovannes (nicknamed Shapkahan) and mother, Khanzad. The name Zak'aria dpir also appears in a brief memorial at the end of the Gospel of St John on f.298. The town of Bagrewand, part of the province of Ayrarat in Armenia Major, and village of Mangasar are now part of the Turkish city, Erzerum. The 'bitter times' alluded to by the scribe refer to the capture of the ancient Armenian provinces by the Ottoman Turks, followed by the Persian-Turkish wars of the 17th century.

2. Following the death of Ter Yovannes in 1692, the manuscript was donated to the church of St Grigor the Enlightened.

ILLUMINATION:
A handsome manuscript with a lavish scheme of illumination. In addition to the full-page miniatures and elaborate headpieces opening each Gospel, the margins of numerous leaves are scattered with highly decorative motifs, birds and figures. They serve to highlight particular episodes in the Gospel narrative - the shepherd shown blowing his trumpet, for example, on f.145, is intended to illustrate the verse from the Gospel of St Luke which speaks of shepherds keeping watch over their flock by night.

The subjects of the miniatures are as follows: f.1v St Matthew seated on a throne, holding a book, before an elaborate building, an angel to the right; f.87v St Mark, holding a book, before a cupola ; f.139v St Luke, seated and holding a book, before two towers; f.226v St John, holding a book, in a rocky landscape, looking towards heaven.
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