The issuer of this seal is well known. She is none other than Maria, the daughter of Gagik, the king of Kars. Gagik had abandonned his kingdom in 1064, and retired to the safety of his estates, situated within the Empire, leaving his native Tzamandos to the mercies of the Turks. The colophon of an Armenian manuscript dated 1077-1078 mentions Maria with the title of curopalatissa. According to the text, Maria defended the fortress of Tzamandos against the Turkish emir Afshin who raided Anatolia in 1069-70. The end of the legend is difficult to interpret. It could be translated as 'descendant of Pho(cas)', referring to the maternal ancestry of the princess, but this is a hypothetical reading.
See also front cover illustration.