The New Zion of Ot'kht'a

Title: The New Zion of Ot'kht'a
Variant title:
  • Nový Sion Ot'kht'a
Author: Bacci, Michele
Source document: Convivium. 2022, vol. 9, iss. 1, pp. [28]-51
  • ISSN
    2336-3452 (print)
    2336-808X (online)
Type: Article
Summary language
License: Not specified license
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The lavra of Ot'kht'a Eklesia and its twin monastery at Parkhali are located in an isolated, mountainous area of present-day north-east Turkey, which, in the ninth–tenth century, gradually emerged as the politically de facto independent kingdom of Tao-Klarjet'i and as a stronghold of Georgian culture. Both lavras were established on the steep slopes of valleys carved by the tributaries of the Çoruh (Č'orox'i) river by Georgian monks seeking for those "deserts" that, in their opinion, God had reserved to them since the Creation of the world. Thanks to the support of David III the Curopalates, the churches of Ot'kht'a and Parkhali erected in monumental dimensions and lavishly decorated with a complex, almost identical program of mural paintings in the apses. The present paper aims to show to what extent images could reflect the monastic view of their relationship with the natural world in terms of Biblical allegorism. In particular, it lays emphasis on the multi-layered symbolism associated with the "Holy Zion" – notion and the different ritual, performative, and visual strategies whereby site-bound holiness came to be materially evoked.