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Matenadaran: Miniatures Stand 1 side 3

 Armenian miniature painting, originating as decoration of handwritten books, saw rapid progress and in a very short time became a unique field of Armenian painting, thanks to its artistic qualities, the uniqueness of its iconography and its ability to harmoniously combine eastern and western artistic traditions.

The oldest Armenian miniatures (6th c.) are those attached to the end of the “Echmiadzin Gospel” (989). This ivory-covered Gospel with richly ornamented carvings also dates to the 6th century. The miniatures for the “Echmiadzin Gospel” depict four themes: “Annunciation to Zachariah”, “Annunciation to Mary”, “Adoration of the Magi” and “Baptism of Christ”. These four metaphorical miniatures are theophonic, that is, they show the appearance of a deity to a human, and are created according to ancient iconographic rules.


6. Annunciation to Mary, 6th c.,
Gospel”, 989, Matenadaran, MS
2374, pg. 228b
7. Baptism, 6th c., “Echmiadzin
Gospel”, 989,
(Matenadaran, MS 2374, pg. 229b
8. Ivory binding, “Echmiadzin
Gospel”, 989

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

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