Armenian Manuscript

manuscript in armenian script


aremenian manuscript


armenian illuminations


illuminated manuscript


armenian manuscript page


12th cent. manuscript page


manuscript illuminations


4 illuminated miniatures


medieval manuscript


manuscript - armenia


manuscript


illuminated page


illuminated page


Lviv manuscript detail


detail from medieval manuscript


2 illuminated manuscript details

You will be doing yourself a favour by clicking to enlarge these images - the detail is exquisite (the manuscript measures 32cm x 30cm [13 x 12 inches]).

This late 12th century illuminated manuscript in Armenian script is online in the Digital Library of Poland. [or: direct link to 800+ thumbnails = big pageload] {Thanks to Tomasz for the translation help!}

Whilst this exceptional Gospel work is in the Armenian language, it was actually produced in a Lviv scriptorium (in the west of modern Ukraine, not too far from the Polish border) in 1198. [modern Armenia is on the opposite side of the Black Sea] [wikipedia: Ukraine, Armenia, Lviv]

The complex history of the region is fairly baffling - the Kingdom of Armenia (which was the Kingdom of Cilesian Armenia at the time the manuscript was produced) never extended further west than the eastern side of the Black Sea as far as I can tell. Conflating language and country perhaps? Please enlighten me via a comment or email.

I feel fairly confident that this work is known (at least in Germany) as the Lemberg Gospel (Lemberg was the German name for Lviv). The manuscript was rediscovered at the end of hostilities in 1945. [Das Lemberger Evangeliar - translation]

Ornamental Arts in Armenian Manuscripts is an excellent site from Hayknet which is associated with the Yerevan Academy of Fine Arts and has a large gallery of manuscript decoration motifs and if I’m understanding correctly, plates 41-45 are indicative of the style of the probable illuminator of the Lemberg Gospel (Grigor). [see the essay]
Armenian Manuscript

CHEERLEADERS FOR MODERATION

You will be tempted to skip over this post because it has the word “moderation” in the title, and instead search for a blog with “wild extremism” in the title. Moderation just ain’t as much fun.

You should resist that temptation, at least for a few paragraphs.

We tend to bristle at anything smelling like censorship or restraint. Moderation is contrary to the freedom that all artists crave, even when they have no important use for it.

I chatted in a recent post about the
Futurist Manifesto which ushered in the art of the 20th century:

We must break down the gates of life to test the bolts and the padlocks….Courage, audacity, and revolt will be essential elements of our poetry…To admire an old picture is to pour our sensibility into a funeral urn instead of casting it forward with violent spurts of creation and action…. We want to demolish museums and libraries [and] fight morality… .
True to this theme, much of 20th century culture grew up worshipping novelty and extremism above lasting value that required patient consideration.

People who focus on what is new and hot often develop short attention spans. They lose patience for moderation, nuance and context. But the old masters recognized that moderation is all there is. As Shakespeare exclaimed, everything is a matter of degree:

Take but degree away, untune that string, and hark, what dischord follows! Each thing meets in mere oppugnancy. The bounded waters Should lift their bosoms higher than the shores And make a sop of all this solid globe
In this painting by Vermeer, the girl’s earring is not extremely white nor is her eye extremely dark. Viewed in isolation, both colors are quite moderate.



Yet, both colors seize your attention because Vermeer has placed the light earring against a dark shadow and the dark eye against light skin. That’s the way to achieve real highs and lows. In art and in life, context is everything.

The metaphors of extremism in art and sex are are lovely and alluring; imagine a painting made up of nothing but highlights, or a state of perpetual ecstasy without all those boring parts in between! But as George Eliot warned, “all of us get our thoughts entangled in metaphors and act fatally on the strength of them.” Pornographers and artists who need to chase novel forms of licentiousness inevitably become colossal bores.


Those who say “I’ll try anything once”
Seldom try anything twice
Or three times
Arriving late at the Gate of Dreams Worth Dying For.

—Carl Sandburg




.


CHEERLEADERS FOR MODERATION

Paper Gods

folk devil god

Zhong Kui



chinese calendar of gods

Da Zhonghua Minguo ba nian Zaojun zhi shen wei



zhong shen - colourful folk figures

Zhong shen



votive realm of gods

Guansheng Dadi



chinese folk god woodcut

Hu fa Weituo zun shen



bright coloured menshen folk god

Menshen



stylised folk figure on horseback

Menshen



chinese folk god and attendants

Caishen



angry folk god scaling wall

Fu zai yan qian



chinese male folk figure holding scroll

Fu zi tian lai



male god and attendants

Ganying Yaowang



2 chinese folk religion scenes

Guang han gong



Ancient folk religions of China include elements of Daoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, ancestor veneration as well as mythological deities and astrology. Worship of the hundreds of Gods and Saints is regarded as complementary rather than conflicting with a person’s chosen religion.

The ubiquitous public face of Chinese folk religions are the New Year’s woodblock illustrations (‘nianhua’) which have been produced for more than a thousand years. These (generally) inexpensive prints are said to bestow luck on the household or ward off evil spirits and are either displayed prominently throughout the year and then burned and replaced, or are burned as part of ceremonial practices on auspicious dates.

The longer lasting prints (usually the more elaborate and colourful) are conspicuously displayed on the front, back and bedroom doors, in the household shrine and in the kitchen (the ‘stove God’), often in association with a calendar.

Anne Swann Goodrich (1895-2005) became entranced by the paper folk art traditions when she worked as a missionary in (the then) Peking. In 1931 she bought the whole colletion of ‘nianhua’ available from a print shop and spent much of the rest of her life studying the history and meaning behind the paper art forms. Her collection was donated to Columbia University sixteen years ago and represents a snapshot in time of the printing styles and imagery that constituted the popular visual culture of 1931 Peking.


Paper Gods

Film noir pencils

Barton Keyes to Walter Neff:

“A desk job. Is that all you can see in it? Just a hard chair to park your pants on from nine to five. Just a pile of papers to shuffle around, and five sharp pencils and a scratch pad to make figures on, with maybe a little doodling on the side. That’s not the way I see it, Walter. To me a claims man is a surgeon, and that desk is an operating table, and those pencils are scalpels and bone chisels. And those papers are not just forms and statistics and claims for compensation. They’re alive, they’re packed with drama, with twisted hopes and crooked dreams. A claims man, Walter, is a doctor and a blood-hound and a cop and a judge and a jury and a father confessor, all in one.”

Double Indemnity (1944), screenplay by Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler

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Film noir pencils

Everything I always wanted to ask about Grape-Nuts



My son Ben gave me the above advertisement, which he found at a garage sale. (Thanks, Ben!) The plastic sheet that protected the ad is labeled 1920s. I have a bowl of sturdy, appetizing Grape-Nuts almost every morning, so this ad has found a good home.

I’m wondering: this scene carries a sexual implication, doesn’t it? The locked eyes seem to bespeak a desire for more than cereal. But does “Only time for Grape-Nuts” mean that there’s no time for more than breakfast, or does it mean that time already spent in the bedroom has left no time for a more elaborate breakfast? It’s possible of course that this ad might only be a comment on modern times and the death of cooking. The locked eyes though suggest more.

And who are these people anyway? Are they both headed off to work? (Would a woman have dressed in this way around the house?) If the couple are a husband and wife, why is he dressing next to what looks like a single bed? And why is his coat hanging on a chair?

[Readers of a certain age will recognize in this post’s title a play on the title of David Reuben’s book Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask) (1969).]

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“Radios, it is”
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Everything I always wanted to ask about Grape-Nuts