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Matenadaran: Miniatures Stand 3 side 3

 What kind of images were in manuscripts? Though mainly of a religious nature, miniatures differed in their decoration. Historical books, collected works, hymn books and others were not illuminated or contained only colophons and decorations in the margins. Gospels and Bibles were illuminated with khorans¹, title pages, images of the Evangelists and pictures depicting events from Christ's life.

The most richly illuminated books were the Gospels. They began with khorans, then each Gospel was prefaced with a portrait of its corresponding Evangelist (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) and a title page. Pictures depicting the life of Christ followed khorans or each picture was accompanied with a passage from the Gospel corresponding to its content. Ornamental and sometimes thematic images were depicted in the margins of texts.


7. Khoran, “Gospel of S’mbat the
Constable”,second half of 13th c.,
Matenadaran, MS 7644, pg 5b
8. The Evangelist John and
Prochorus, Gospel, 1293,
Matenadaran, MS 2796,pg. 280a
9. Entry into Jerusalem, “Gospel of
Malatia”, 1268, artist- Toros
Roslin, Matenadaran, MS 10675,
pg. 137a

¹The term khoran refers to the apse-shaped designs of columns and arches used to frame synoptic lists which compare the content of the Gospels.

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

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