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Endoltseva Ekaterina

Zoomorphic images in architectural decoration of Caucasus of the 9th — 11th centuries (Abkhazia and Southern Ossetia): traditional culture in the formation of christian images


Endoltseva Ekaterina (2020) "Zoomorphic images in architectural decoration of Caucasus of the 9th — 11th centuries (Abkhazia and Southern Ossetia): traditional culture in the formation of christian images ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia V : Voprosi istorii i teorii hristianskogo iskusstva, 2020, vol. 37, pp. 9-27 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturV202037.9-27

Abstract

This article aims to identify possible origins of some zoomorphic images which are seen on the outer facing of Christian churches (decorative frames of windows and doors) in the territory of Abkhazia and Southern Ossetia. When studying the monuments of the period of the Abkhazian kingdom (8‒11 centuries), a compact group of images has been revealed. All of them are made in fl at graphic manner. Biological identification of the animals is complicated. Identifi cation of the animals is possible only due to analogies and common symbolic context of the Christian artistic culture. Such images can be found mainly on Christian monuments from the territory of Abkhazia and Southern Ossetia, some analogies are from the territory of Georgia and Armenia (façade decoration). Discussions about possible origins of such images involve ideas about the influence of the traditional culture. The inventory of zoomorphic medieval images corresponds to the bestiary of the more ancient periods of the territory of central Caucasus, western Transcaucasia and other neighbouring regions. Animals on the earlier archaeological artefacts are made in the same fl at graphic style. Their images are syncretic, their biological identifi cation is diffi cult. Flat graphic style is very typical of art traditions of the above-mentioned territory in the period of Late Bronze and Early Iron Age. For example, zoomorphic imagery in the territory of central, western and eastern Caucasus in the mountain regions is clearly fl at, the only contours of the animals are outlined. As a result, the statuettes are replaced by the fi gured and ajoure plaques and buckles. The originality of the medieval reliefs was possibly infl uenced by the traditional culture on the territories that became the most active in the process of revival of the art life in western and central Transcaucasia after the devastating Arab raids.

Keywords

Zoomorphic images, architectural decoration, Caucasus, fl at graphic style, framing of windows, Late Bronze Age, Early Iron Age, traditional culture, syncretic images, outer facing

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Information about the author

Endoltseva Ekaterina


Academic Degree: Candidate of Sciences* in Art Criticism;
Place of work: Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences; 12/1 Rozhdestvenka Str., Moscow, 107031, Russian Federation;
Post: Senior Researcher;
ORCID: 0000-0002-8133-6379;
Email: kendoltseva@ivran.ru.

*According to the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) 2011, the degree of Candidate of Sciences (Cand.Sc.) belongs to ISCED level 8 — "doctoral or equivalent", together with PhD, DPhil, D.Lit, D.Sc, LL.D, Doctorate or similar.