The Mandylion of Edessa is a famous image of Christ “not-made-by-human-hands” that arrived in Constantinople at the emperor's will in 944. Linked to the Mesopotamian city of Edessa (today Urfa in south-west Turkey) lying at the border between the Byzantine Empire and Islam, the relic was disputed by various Christian sects, by Muslims, by Western kings. Its later destiny is unclear, and a number of copies are known. The history of the relic - with substantial variations - is recalled by a large number of Greek, Syriac, Arabic, Ethiopic, Coptic, Armenian, Georgian, Russian, Latin sources. This paper aims at clarifying the sources of the iconography of the early history of the Mandylion, from Edessa to Constantinople, as it is represented on the enamelled, repoussé, gilt-silver Byzantine frame of the Mandylion-Sacro Volto dating to the first half of the fourteenth c. and kept in the monastery of San Bartolomeo degli Armeni, Genoa. From a single panel reproducing Christ's likeness, the devotional image of the Mandylion became in the mid tenth c. a triptych, as attested by the famous fragmentary Sinai example. On the Genoa Sacro Volto and on later Russian reproductions the central image is surrounded by scenes of its early history and miracles, following the scheme of the so-called Vita icons. The Genoa narrative is based on written texts reporting various legends about the Mandylion, as well as on oral traditions developed in the frontier region of Mesopotamia and in Constantinople on the arrival of the sacred relic. The visual elaboration of these texts and legends, likely to have occurred also earlier as other works of art testify, in the Palaiologan frame appears as the brilliant product of a workshop possibly operating for the imperial court. After other scholars have explored the adherence of the scenes' captions to the various sources, and have traced parallels and differences between the Genoa plaques and miniatures from Menologia or amuletic scrolls, it seems necessary at this point to investigate the proximity of the iconography of the plaques with the various written sources and oral traditions, evaluate their iconographic as well as conceptual innovation, their influence on the later developments of the devotional image of the Mandylion.

The Fall of the Idol on the Frame of the Genoa Mandylion: a Narrative on/of the Borders

DELL'ACQUA, Francesca
2013

Abstract

The Mandylion of Edessa is a famous image of Christ “not-made-by-human-hands” that arrived in Constantinople at the emperor's will in 944. Linked to the Mesopotamian city of Edessa (today Urfa in south-west Turkey) lying at the border between the Byzantine Empire and Islam, the relic was disputed by various Christian sects, by Muslims, by Western kings. Its later destiny is unclear, and a number of copies are known. The history of the relic - with substantial variations - is recalled by a large number of Greek, Syriac, Arabic, Ethiopic, Coptic, Armenian, Georgian, Russian, Latin sources. This paper aims at clarifying the sources of the iconography of the early history of the Mandylion, from Edessa to Constantinople, as it is represented on the enamelled, repoussé, gilt-silver Byzantine frame of the Mandylion-Sacro Volto dating to the first half of the fourteenth c. and kept in the monastery of San Bartolomeo degli Armeni, Genoa. From a single panel reproducing Christ's likeness, the devotional image of the Mandylion became in the mid tenth c. a triptych, as attested by the famous fragmentary Sinai example. On the Genoa Sacro Volto and on later Russian reproductions the central image is surrounded by scenes of its early history and miracles, following the scheme of the so-called Vita icons. The Genoa narrative is based on written texts reporting various legends about the Mandylion, as well as on oral traditions developed in the frontier region of Mesopotamia and in Constantinople on the arrival of the sacred relic. The visual elaboration of these texts and legends, likely to have occurred also earlier as other works of art testify, in the Palaiologan frame appears as the brilliant product of a workshop possibly operating for the imperial court. After other scholars have explored the adherence of the scenes' captions to the various sources, and have traced parallels and differences between the Genoa plaques and miniatures from Menologia or amuletic scrolls, it seems necessary at this point to investigate the proximity of the iconography of the plaques with the various written sources and oral traditions, evaluate their iconographic as well as conceptual innovation, their influence on the later developments of the devotional image of the Mandylion.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11386/3971203
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