Altars in medieval Georgian churches : preliminary notes on their arrangement, decoration, and the rite of consecration

Variant title
Oltáře středověkých gruzínských kostelů : úvodní poznámky k jejich uspořádání, dekoraci a rituálu vysvěcení
Source document: Convivium. 2021, vol. 8, iss. Supplementum 1, pp. [90]-115
  • ISSN
    2336-3452 (print)
    2336-808X (online)
License: Not specified license
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Analyzing the correspondence between liturgical texts and archaeological materials, this article explores different aspects of medieval Georgian altars. The materials studied deal with types and designs of altars, how they were decorated, of what materials they were made, and the rite of the consecration translated in the tenth–eleventh centuries by Georgian monks on Mount Athos. As the study of medieval altars reveals, most were plain in terms of decoration; however, some altars were adorned with decorative elements, mostly with an image of a cross in various forms. In rare cases, both painted and relief altars feature a complex figural decoration with images of Christ, the saints, the Christological cycle, laymen, etc., and sometimes they were accompanied by a dedicatory inscription or excerpt from a liturgical text, stressing the symbolic meaning of an altar as a place of sacrifice. Archaeological and written sources show that medieval altars were surmounted with canopies, although only one, dated to the eighteenth century, survives intact today. Its complex structure reveals the symbolic meaning of the canopy itself, and also refers to the local tradition emphasizing the symbolic connotation of the Gelati Monastery as the Second Jerusalem.
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