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Matenadaran: Miniatures Stand 1 side 1.

 The word “Miniatura” is used for miniature painting and comes from the Latin “minium”, the red lead paint made from apricot pigment that is used in illuminated manuscripts. The Armenian word “manrankar” (“manrankarchutiun” means miniature painting) probably expresses the meaning of the term more precisely as it refers to the illustration of handwritten manuscripts, the characteristic features of which are their small size and delicacy of brush strokes.

As a unique area of fine arts, miniature painting was popular from ancient times (China, Egypt, Greece and Rome). After the spread of Christianity the art of miniature painting reached its height in Egypt (Alexandrian school), Palestine and Syria. It flourished in the Byzantine Empire in the Middle Ages and was famous in Western European countries.

Armenian Miniature painting formed from close contact with centers of Christian culture. During its development it gained unique features of its own and had exceptional achievements.


1. A miniature from the Assyrian
“Rabula Gospels”
2. Adoration of the Magi,
“Echmiadzin Gospel”, 989,
Matenadaran, MS 2374, pg.

Text and images provided by the Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts.

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