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Some Compositional Characteristics of Georgian Triptychs of the Thirteenth through Fifteenth Centuries Author(s): Nina Chichinadze Reviewed work(s):

Source: Gesta, Vol. 35, No. 1 (1996), pp. 66-76 Published by: International Center of Medieval Art Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/767227 . Accessed: 22/08/2012 21:29
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Some Compositional Characteristics of Georgian Triptychs of the Thirteenth Through Fifteenth Centuries*
NINA CHICHINADZE Instituteof History of GeorgianArt, Tbilisi

Abstract Triptychsconstitute a special group withinthe class of painted icons from the Middle Ages. They are distinguished by their form, structure, and compositional system. Theirthemes and iconographyhave a particular character. The compositional characteristics of triptychs are especially interesting because the complicated form of the triptychs with their multiple surfaces challenged their artists to coordinate numerous scenes and figures. Medieval Georgian triptychs fill lacunae in the history of icon painting. The Georgian material demonstrates the diversityof the compositional and iconographicsystems of such icons. What is more, almost all of the Georgian triptychs preserve their donor inscriptions, and these give us precious informationabout their patrons, provenance, and function. From early Christian times onward triptychs in various media were widespread.1Their roots run back to the diptychs of late antique tradition. Early Christianity assimilated the diptych form, Christian subjects replaced the scenes of imperial triumphs, and images of emperors and consuls gave way to images of Christ and the saints.2The triptychemerged as a natural development from the diptych. Many materials were used for triptychs. Painted triptychs are known from the entire span of the icon's history. They survive only in fragments, however. Among the preIconoclastic icons on Sinai are panels that were created as the wings of triptychs.3It is at Sinai, too, that the only surviving fragments of painted triptychs from post-Iconoclastic centuries are preserved: the tenth-centurywings with scenes from the history of King Abgar and the Holy Face of Edessa; the eleventh-century wing from a triptych of St. Nicholas; the thirteenth-centuryicon of the Virgin Hodegetria;the late thirteenth-century triptych with the Deesis.4 The tradition continues in post-Byzantine works, and it is at this point that we finally find fully surviving painted triptychs.5The fragmentary condition of painted triptychs from the Byzantine centuries makes it impossible to reconstruct completely the historical evolution of this type of icon. Under these circumstances the triptychs preserved in Georgia assume exceptional historical value. The triptychs that survive in Georgia are preserved in the Art Museum of Georgia in Tbilisi, in the Museum of History and Ethnography of Svaneti in Mestia (the north-west highland province of Georgia), and in the treasuries of local churches. They date from the tenth through the seventeenth

centuries, and so span almost the entire period of the Georgian Middle Ages. The majority are composed of painted panels decorated with repouss6 revetment. A few, however, are embossed silver or ivory.6 They vary widely in quality. Some are outstanding, like the Anchiskhati and Xaxuli triptychs of the twelfth and thirteenthcenturies, now in the Art Seti tripMuseum of Georgia,7and the early thirteenth-century tych in the Museum of History and Ethnographyof Svaneti (Fig. 3).8 Alongside such superb works are icons of lesser artistic quality. These, too, however, are of great significance from a historical point of view, for they reveal interesting compositional schemes and iconographic variants. Not all of these icons survive in their original form, but old photographs permit us to reconstruct their compositional systems and their iconographic themes. The extant triptychs offer insight into a vast range of issues, from problems of tradition and heritage through questions of patronage and function to artistic inquiries into models and interconnections between different media. It is impossible to address all of these problems in the present article. Instead, this article will focus on a limited group-the triptychs from the thirteenth and early fourteenthcenturies preservedin Svaneti-, and will examine

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FIGURE 1. Ivory triptych, tenth century, Meihingen, Wallenstein-Oettingen Collection (photo: after Goldschmidt and Weitzmann,Die byzantinischen Elfenbeinskulpturendes X.-XIII. Jahrhunderts,fig. 131). GESTAXXXV/1 @ The International Center of Medieval Art 1996

their compositional characteristics: the themes chosen for depiction, the relation of these themes to those employed in other media, and the way in which particularcompositional complexes of images were passed on from one triptych to others. The configurationand form of a triptychpresented challenging compositional problems. The panels drew upon the principles of icon painting but they also "borrowed"elements from other branches of medieval art, especially those which requiredthe artist to coordinate multiple images into a meaningful complex. To a certain extent triptychs resemble mural painting, in particularthe mural compositions that are coordinated around a single theological idea. At the same time their compositional schemes were to some extent dominated by the distinctive shape of the triptych form itself. Triptychs are smaller and more laconic than mural complexes, and they are dominated by the central image, which is larger than the lateral wings. Thus, the compositional principles seen in ivory triptychs of the tenth and eleventh centuries in Byzantium find many echoes in the painted triptychs of Georgia: in both, the central panel is generally devoted entirely to a single figure or scene, while the lateral wings are divided into two or even three zones with angels in the uppermost and saints-often warriorsaints-below (Figs. 1, 2).9 In these respects the Georgian triptychs follow the compositional and iconographicprinciples establishedby Byzantium.Among the Georgian works, however, are icons with different solutions. One original compositional scheme can be seen in the Seti triptych (Fig. 3). This is a large work, measuring with open wings 91 cm. in width and 58 cm. in height. It is dated to the first quarterof the thirteenthcentury.10 It is composed of wooden panels painted in tempera and revetted in gilded silver. Niello ornament adorns the haloes of the archangels and warrior saints and the repouss6 donors' inscription, and niello rosettes are included on the edges of the wings. An icon of the Virgin and Child is inserted into the center of the composition. Today this icon preserves only the painted faces of the Virgin and Child. An old photograph made by D. Ermakov during the expedition of the prominent Georgian scholar, E. Takaishvili, in 1910 shows the figures executed in repouss6 (Fig. 4). The icon represents the Virgin Hodegetria in half-figure; her head frontal, she looks straight at the viewer. The Child was depicted in three-quarter view. His crossed legs were bare and exposed the sole of one foot. He held a scroll in his left hand and blessed with his right. Quatrefoils in the upper part of the icon displayed the sigla
MP OY in repouss6.11


FIGURE 2. Ivory triptych, tenth century, Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow Collection (photo: after Goldschmidt and Weitzmann,Die byzantinischen Elfenbeinskulpturendes X.-XIII. Jahrhunderts,fig. 131).

The icon of the Hodegetria is flankedby figures of archangels. They are turned slightly towards the central icon, inclining their heads in veneration. Their elongated proportions and tiny feet, and the absence of any ground line create an ambiguous impression between standing and flying. They are clad in tunics, mantles (Gabriel in red tunic and blue himation; Michael in blue tunic and reddish himation), and loros, and they carry in one hand a sphere and in the other

a lance.12 Initially, they were inscribed in repouse6 in the Georgian uncial asomtavruli script like the other figures (except Christ and Mary), but now only the red preliminary inscription is preserved. Above the icon of the Hodegetria is a bust of Christ clad in a brown chiton and blue himation. In accord with the new humanistic spirit of the early thirteenth century, the figure is distinguished by its spirit of calm and temperance.13 Below the Virgin and Child are frontal busts of women saints-St. Marinaand St. Barbara-with martyrs'crosses in their right hands. St. Marinais enveloped in a red maphorion and St. Barbara in the costume of a noble woman with a veiled headdress, rosettes on her shoulders, and golden borders on her dress and mantle. The wings are occupied by images of warriorsaints: SS. George and Theodore are on the right wing; only one figure is preserved on the left. They are inscribed erroneously, but can be identified by their traditional iconography: the shorthaired saints are George and Theodore Tyro; Theodore Stratilates with his longer hair stands at left,14 and was probably accompanied originally by St. Demetrius.15SS. George and Theodore Tyro are depicted in the same pose holding a lance in their right hands and a shield in their left. St. Theodore Stratilates holds a spear and the hilt of his sword. In the upper parts of the wings are Seraphim and Cherubim. They hold labara with the inscription in Georgian, "Holy Holy is." On the outer surface of the wings are images of the standing apostles Peter and Paul. They are clad in tunics and mantles; Paul holds a codex, and both are slightly turned toward the center. In the old photographwe see the Hetoimasia in repouss6 in the center of the triumphal arch (Fig. 4).16 In the lower border of the central panel is a repouss6 donors' inscription executed in old Georgian uncial asomtavruli script. It reads: "Holy Queen, Mother of God, Who carried God, intercede before your Son and Our Lord for the souls of Wakhtang and Marina [for whom] their [sons adorned] your image. VardanInasaridze and his brothers Inasar, Sagir, Nicholaos, 67




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FIGURE3. Seti Triptych, first half of the thirteenthcentury.Museumof the History and Ethnography of Svaneti, Georgia Specialist Laboratory for theAdvancement of PhotographyofArtistic Monuments,Tbilisi, Georgia). (photo:Experimental


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FIGURE 4. Seti Triptych,Photograph of 1910 (photo: D. Ermakov,Archives of the Art Museum of Georgia, Tbilisi).


Beshken. [Have mercy. Amen.]" The family of the Inasaridze-the feudal lords of Lechkumi, in the vicinity of Svaneti -are mentioned in numerous historical documents and literary sources from the twelfth through the seventeenth centuries. According to this evidence, Inasaridzewere important and powerful persons.17 The placement of the Virgin and Christ in the central panel of the Seti triptych and the double register of saints, including warriorsaints, in the wings both recall the compositions seen in Byzantine ivory triptychs. But in the Seti triptych the composition is enriched: the apostles are moved to the backs of the wings; the archangels are moved into the central panel; the women saints are added; and there are images from the prophetic visions-the Seraphim, Cherubim, and Hetoimasia. I should like to argue that the particularcharacterof the compositional program of this triptych is influenced by the liturgical imagery of Orthodox church decoration. Particularly remarkablein the Seti triptychis the composition of the Hodegetria and Christ. This unusualjuxtaposition represents the union in one composition of the two main themes seen in the apsidal decoration of Georgian churches. One of the themes is the glorification of the Virgin. The central icon of the Hodegetria flanked by figures of adoring archangels recalls this theme, found recurrently in Georgian apse decoration from the eleventh century onward. Good examples include the eleventh-century frescoes at Ateni and the early twelfth-century mosaic at Gelati.'8 The image of the Savior, on the other hand, together with the Hetoimasia and the elements of the propheticvisions, belongs to the traditionalcomposition of the Maiestas Domini, the other importanttheme of Byzantine apse decoration. This composition is found in Georgian apses from the ninth or tenth century onward, as in the frescoes of Dodo in the monastery complex of David Garedji from the ninth century or the tenth-century murals in Chvabiani in Svaneti.19The depiction of SS. Marina and Barbarais a reflection of the traditionof placing the busts of women saints in the lower borderof icons,20 though it should be recalled that the name Marina appears in the donors' inscription and so may help to explain the inclusion of St. Marina. The compositional structure of the triptych-the variation in the scale of the figures and their arrangementin quincunx-finds parallels in the apsidal compositions of Georgian churches from the period around 1200.21 The stylistic features of the painting reveal two different hands. The first, the author of the central icon, is a talented master whose delicate facial modeling, firm plasticity, and individual characterizationof the figures attest to his familThe images by iarity with the refined art of Constantinople.22 the second master are less expressive, though he is a skillful painter. Given this distinction in the hands, and the way the inscription singles out the icon of the Virgin, one can suggest that the triptych was created in order to enshrine

the central icon of the Virgin Hodegetria, a favored sacred image alreadybefore the triptychwas made. The overlapping of apsidal themes in the central panel of the Seti triptych is exceptional in icon painting.The triptych'sadoption of apsidal compositions becomes understandable,however, if we take into consideration the particular function of triptychs like this one. They served as portable altars for private devotion. The very shape of the triptych, with its arched central panel inscribed beneath the triumphal arch, can be seen as a projection of the eastern, sanctuary end of an Orthodox church. The triptych, as a representativeicon with images of selected saints flanking a larger, focal image in the center, corresponds in its function to the apse. The Seti icon is an outstanding work of medieval icon painting, and one can imagine that its innovative compositional shape was the invention of its artist, a creative, individual response to the particulardemands of his commission. The scheme developed for the Seti triptych is found again in several icons from Svaneti. Among them are an icon from Tzvirmi and another from Labskald. The triptych from Tsvirmi is now lost (Fig. 5).23 It was a little panel. In a photographof 1910 one can see a small icon of the halflength Virginin the intercedingpostureof the "Hagiosoritissa" in the central panel. It was flanked by frontal images of St. Catherine on the right and St. Marina on the left. Above the icon of the Virgin was a large bust of Christ;the wings were adorned with images of the Virgin and John the Baptist in prayer.SS. Catherineand Marinawere inscribedin Georgian, while the other figures had Greek inscriptions. A Georgian inscription on the icon's reverse mentioned the apostles Peter and Paul, thus indicating that they must have occupied the outer surfaces of the wings. The paintedfigures were adorned with silver revetment;the rows of little pearls seen in the photograph, however, are probably late additions. The painted surfaces are barely visible in the photograph,making the icon difficult to date, but it probably belonged to the thirteenth of plain andornamented century,for the alternation partsin the border of the revetment is characteristicof the metal frames of Georgianicons from that period.24 The same compositional principles can be found in the central panel of the triptych from Labskaldin Svaneti.25The lateral wings are lost, but the central panel exhibits the compositional scheme familiar from the Seti triptych. In this case the central icon shows John the Baptist. He is depicted in full height, turned to his right, holding a scroll with a Greek inscription in his left hand and blessing with his right. Above him is a blue are of Heaven with a hand of God. The central icon is flanked by figures of the Virgin and John the Evangelist turned toward the center. Above them looms a half-figure of Christ Pantocrator;in the lower part of the panel are half-figures of female saints--Eirene, Barbara,and Catherine. The figures are decorated with gilded revetment. Christ, the Virgin, and the Baptist are labeled in Greek, while


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FIGURE 5. Triptych from Tzvirmi,second half of the thirteenth century, now lost (photo: D. Ermakov,Archives of the Art Museum of Georgia).







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FIGURE 6. Triptychwith Passion Cycle, first half of the fourteenth century, Ushguli, Treasury of the local church (photo: Experimental Specialist Laboratoryfor the Advancement of Photography of Artistic Monuments, Tbilisi, Georgia).


the other figures are inscribed in Georgian asomtavruli script. The modeling of their faces, with green shadows and linear highlights, indicates a date in the second half of the thirteenth century. On the back of the central icon is a donors' inscription in Georgian that reads: "Saint John the Baptist, receive this adornmentas a gift from the spouse of Pulariani Mariam and my son Chargal. Be our intercessor." The Tzvirmi and Labskald triptychs are not comparable in quality to the Seti one; the style of their figures and errors in the inscriptions on the Tzvirmiicon suggest the hands of local masters. Nonetheless, they share with the Seti triptych its distinctive compositional scheme. Exceptional as it was, it built upon compositional patterns well known from churches to create a programthat was meaningful and compelling enough to be repeated for decades. A completely differentkind of compositional solution-but again an unconventional one-is seen in the small triptych with scenes from the Passion of Christ from Ushguli, Svaneti (Fig. 6).26 It belongs to the first half of the fourteenth century. It is again small: the open triptych measures 25 by 16 cm. The painted scenes are sheeted in gilded silver. The central panel of the triptych here presents a scene, the Descent from the Cross. The right wing shows the Way to Calvary. The left wing is ruined, but it, too, must have held a scene from the Passion story. On the reverse of each wing the revetment outlines a halo and a spear: evidently, there were images of warrior saints here. The painting of the Ushguli triptych is fine and confident, with pastel colors-blue, lilac, ochre, purple-that are characteristicof Palaiologan painting. The narrativecharacter of the scenes with their delicate figures and calligraphic design reminds one of miniaturepainting. The central scene comprises five figures-Joseph of Arimathea grasping by the waist the body of Christ, the Virgin at Christ'sleft holding his right hand, John the Evangelist bending to Christ's right, and a tiny Nicodemus, who is detaching Christ'snailed feet. The right wing depicts a three-figuregroup: Christ with bound hands is led by a beardless figure who looks back at him, and both are preceded by a youthful figure bearing an immense cross.27 On the back of the panel, arrangedaroundan embossed cross, is a donors' inscription in asomtavruli script: "Christ, Who was crucified for us, Christ Our Lord, be an intercessor for our souls, who adorned your image. Mechabalakhisdze Esona and for my spouse, Barbara,have mercy." The donors are as yet unidentified. Like the donors of the Seti triptych, they commissioned an unconventional composition. The complex Seti and Ushguli triptychs with their rich iconographic schemes are accompanied by other triptychs with simpler compositions in which each wing has just a single image. Thus, the outlines of the silver revetment and Georgian repouss6 inscription on a badly damaged, small fifteenth-centurytriptych from Ushguli permit us to identify its central image as a figure of Elijah (Fig. 7). He is inscribed

"Saint Elijah,"ratherthan the more usual "ProphetElijah,"28 and he is shown among the mountains with the raven. Full-length archangels in traditionalchiton and himation occupy the wings. The triptych is little, measuring 26 by 16.5 cm. when open. The reverse of the main panel bears an embossed cross surroundedby a donors' inscription. It reads: "Truecross, the grace of all saints, protect and purify of sin Giorgi, Nostai, and Buga, and my spouse Puta."It is significant that the invocation is addressed to the cross and not the prophetand archangels.The revetment is partially lost on the right wing, and under it can be seen two painted Greek letters, MI-presumably Michael-, while the Georgian inscription says Gabriel.This suggests that the icon's revetment and accompanying inscription are additions to a pre-existing triptych, and that Giorgi contributed only the silver revetment itself. A second triptych in Ushguli, this one the work of a mediocre, local master,measures 26 by 14 cm. with open wings (Fig. 8).29 It, again, is adornedentirely with single figures, now in half-length. The central panel here displays the Virgin Hagiosoritissa; she is flanked by half-length saints, while military saints guard the wings' exterior. Two further triptychs, preserved only in old photographs, exhibit unique features that are of historical interest. The first is one of only two known icons bearing the portrait of a king of Georgia; the second contains as its central panel the only known steatite icon in Georgia. The first is a painted icon-now-lost-with silver revetment of 11 from 8.5 cm. central panel showed a Its by Iprari (Fig. 9).30 and Child turned toward the left to face full-length Virgin a tiny figure in proskynesis. The inscription above this little figure was damaged but could be read: "Mother of God [have mercy] on David." On the reverse of the central panel was another invocation: "Holy Mother of God, be an intercessor before your Son for David, and my spouse Gvantza." On the wings were standing saints turned toward the central image. The painted figures were adorned with repouss6 revetment. The Virgin had a Greek monogram, MP OY, while the lateral figures were identified in Georgian as John the Baptist on the right wing and John the Evangelist on the left. The painting is hardly visible in the photograph,but it can be dated with precision on the basis of the king who is shown. E. Takaishvili,who first published the icon, identified him as David V. He marriedGvantza, the daughter of a nobleman from Rache in northwestern Georgia, in 1252, and she died in 1263. Thus, the icon must have been executed between 1252 and 1263.31 The triptych from the Marghiani church, in turn, had a steatite Deesis in its center (Fig. 10).32 It is now in the Museum of History and Ethnographyof Svaneti without the central icon. The wings are adorned with painted images identifiable from their Georgian inscriptions as SS. Peter and Paul. The Deesis had a Greek inscription, and Takaishvili, who published it, dated it to the tenth century. He dated the triptych to the end of the thirteenth. 71

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FIGURE 7. Triptychof Prophet Elijah, fifteenth century (?), Ushguli, Treasuryof the local church (photo: Experimental Specialist Laboratoryfor the Advancement of Photography of Artistic Monuments, Tbilisi, Georgia).




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FIGURE 9. Triptychfrom Iprari, second half of the thirteenth century, now lost (Photo: D. Ermakov, Archives of the Art Museum of Georgia).

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FIGURE 10. Triptych from Maghiani Church, late thirteenth century, now partly lost, Museum of the History and Ethnography of Svaneti (photo: D. Ermakov, Archives of the Art Museum of Georgia).






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FIGURE 11. Central panel of a triptych, late thirteenth century and fifteenth century, Museum of the History and Ethnography of Svaneti (photo: Experimental Specialist Laboratory for the Advancement of Photography of Artistic Monuments, Tbilisi, Georgia).

A final triptych is represented by its surviving central panel, which is in the Museum of Mestia (Fig. 11). It shows the Hodegetria in half-figure decorated with a gilded silver and niello revetment. A scene of the Nativity is painted in the arch above her, and a figure of a saint or prophet can still be discerned at right. The paint is badly abraded, but the peculiarities of the revetment-the abundantuse of niello, and the alternation of ornamented and plain parts in the decoration-indicate an early thirteenth-centurydate for it. Evidently the icon of the Hodegetria was a later replacement in the mounting, for its style is Palaiologan. Looking back over these Georgian triptychs reveals certain consistent themes despite the diversity of their subjects and compositions. The first is the theme of the Virgin's centrality.33 Though the Virgin appears in varied types, her role as mediatrix between humankind and Christ is emphasized repeatedly. The other images seen in the triptychs'cen74

ter-the Deesis and the Passion cycle-are also connected closely with the themes of sacrifice and redemption.The centrality of the Virgin reflects the iconographic tradition seen in Byzantine ivory triptychs, but it also conforms to the function of the triptych.As we see in their inscriptions, these icons were commissioned by aristocratic and clerical patrons for the redemption of their souls and those of their families. Some of the triptychs examined here were created in their entirety at one time on the basis of coherent artistic conceptions. These include the Tsvirmi and Labskald triptychs, the small triptych from Iprari, the Passion triptych, and the panel with Saint Elijah. Others, however, are composites, assembled from chronologically diverse components in any of a great many different ways: in the Seti triptych a venerated icon was enshrined in the larger, sanctuary-like complex of the triptych; the icon of Saint Elijah was revetted by a later donor; the revetment at Mestia predates the Palaiologan icon now housed in it; and the triptych from Marghiani church was composed around a centuries-earlier steatite Deesis.34 The group of triptychs examined is the product of very accidental survival, but even this material offers some basis for classification. The works can be divided into three main groups. The first group consists of icons closely related to ivory triptychs. These have a simple compositional structure in which the central panel is devoted to only one scene or holy image, and traditionalfigures-apostles, archangels, warrior saints-gather on the wings.35 The second group, seen in the Seti, Tsvirmi, and Labskald examples, includes icons with a complex composition in which the influence of apse programs is evident. The third group, finally, displays narrative scenes of equal importance on each of the panels; it is represented only by the Passion triptych from Ushguli. The icons discussed here should demonstratethat medieval Georgia nurtureda rich tradition of triptychs, commissioned for devotional purposes and for the redemption of their donors. The painterscreatedoriginal compositions of the basis of traditionaliconographic canons, enriching them with new elements and content.

NOTES Research for this article was supported in part by a grant from ACTR/ACCELS with funds provided by the United States Information Agency. None of these organizations is responsible for the views expressed. See G. Soteriou and M. Soteriou, Icones du mont Sinai, 2 vols. (Athens, 1958), I, figs. 5, 14, 21, 23; II, 29-30, 36; J. Brodsky, "The Stavelot Triptych, Notes on Mosan Work,"Gesta, XI (1972), 19-31, figs. 18-21; K. Weitzmann, The Monastery of St. Catherine on Mount Sinai, The Icons, I (Princeton, 1976), 9-10, 36-37, 42-43, 44, 46, 48-49; A. Goldschmidt and K. Weitzmann, Die byzantinischen Elfenbeinskulpturendes X.-XIII. Jahrhunderts, 2 vols. (Berlin, 1979),

II, 18 and nos. 7-10, 22, 23, 33, 39, 46, 77a, 78; K. Weitzmann, "Fragments of an Early St. Nicholas Triptych on Mount Sinai," in Studies in the Arts at Sinai (Princeton, 1982), article VIII, 211-33; Dictionary of the Middle Ages, 13 vols. (New York, 1988), XII, 198-99; K. A. Manafis, gen. ed., Sinai, Treasures of the Monastery of Saint Catherine (Athens, 1990), 96-97, figs. 6, 7, 13; Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, 3 vols. (New York, 1991), III, 2120-21. 2. Age of Spirituality, Late Antique and Early Christian Art Third to Seventh Century, Exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum, New York, 1979, nos. 45, 51, 53, 54, 407, 450, 534, 474, 481; 0. M. Dalton, Byzantine Art and Archeology (Oxford, 1911), 193-238. 3. Soteriou, Icones, I, figs. 5, 14, 21, 23; II, 29-30, 36; Weitzmann, The Monastery, nos. B13, B17, B18, B19-20, B22, B24, B25, B33; Manafis, gen. ed., Sinai, figs. 6, 7, 13. 4. Weitzmann, The Monastery, 94-95, no. B58 (pl. XXXVI-XXXVII; CXIII-CXV); idem, "Fragments,"figs. 1-3; Manafis, gen. ed., Sinai, 112, fig. 54. See also the thirteenth-century Crusader triptychs on Sinai: Weitzmann, "Icon Painting in the CrusaderKingdom,"DOP 20 (1966), figs. 16, 17, 31, 43, 44 (reprt. in Studies in the Arts at Sinai, article XII). 5. See Georghios Klontsas' triptych from the second half of the sixteenth century in the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, the triptych of the Last Judgment in a private collection in the United States, the triptych from the end of the sixteenth century in the Museum of the City of Athens, and the triptych of the Virgin Portaitissa in the Benaki Museum, all in Holy Image, Holy Space, Icons and Frescoes from Greece, exhibition at the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, 1988, nos. 69, 70, 78, 79. See also the triptych of the Forty Martyrs from the seventeenth century at Dumbarton Oaks. 6. G. Chubinashvili, ChekannoeIskusstvo Gruzii, 2 vols. (Tbilisi, 1959), II, figs. 45-49, 484, 527, 528, 530, 531; idem, "Rachinsky Triptix iz Slonovoi Kosti," Voprosi Istorii Iskusstva (Tbilisi, 1970), 1; Goldschmidt and Weitzmann, Elfenbeinskulpturen,nos. 152, 195. 7. Chubinashvili, Chekannoe Iskusstvo, figs. 145, 146, 427, 484, 485; Sh. Amiranashvili, Xaxuli Triptych(Tbilisi, 1972); K. Weitzmann et al., Les icones (Paris, 1992), 118; V. Beridze et al., The Treasures of Georgia (London, 1984), 155. 8. P. Uvarova, "Puteshestvie v Pshavi, Xevsureti, I Svaneti," in Materiali po archeologii Kavkaza (Moscow, 1904), 1242, pl. 37; E. Takaishvili, Expedition in Lechkumi and Svaneti (Paris, 1937), 268-69 (in Georgian); N. Chichinadze, "Painted Triptych from Upper Svaneti," Xelovneba, X (1990), 98-109 (in Georgian). 9. Goldschmidt and Weitzmann, Elfenbeinskulpturen, nos. 9, 38, 39, 72a, 73, 78, 84, 131, 138, 155a, 195. 10. See note 8 above. 11. Such iconographic details as the position of Christ's bare legs with turned-over foot and the Virgin's left hand covered by his chiton, exposing only her thumb and index finger, permit us to assume that this icon is one of the versions of the Hodegetria: see N. Kondakov, Ikonographia Bogomateri, 2 vols. (St. Petersburg, 1915), II, 245. It must be mentioned that among Georgian icons of the tenth and eleventh centuries are several embossed icons in which only the faces are painted (see Chubinashvili, Chekannoe Iskusstvo, 194, 579, 592; figs. 63, 68-70, 99, 125, 139; Weitzmann et al., Les icones, pls. pp. 97, 103, 106, 107). Now it is extremely difficult to maintain whether these icons were initially intended as embossed icons with painted faces, or whether this is a modern convention, for these icons have come down to us with new wooden boards of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries replacing the original panels. 12. Traditionally, archangels carry a staff. The lance is a reflection of the local cult of warriors. The archangels with lance can be found

in several works of medieval Georgian painting. See the eleventhcentury frescoes of Zemo Krikhi repaintedin the thirteenthcenturyT. Virsaladze, "Rospis Tserkvi Archangelov Zemo-Krikhi," Ars Georgica, IV (1955), 222; E. Constantinides, "The Frescoes of the Holy Archangels at Zemo Krikhi, Racha (Georgia) and the Contemporary Monuments on Mani in South Greece,"Deltion tes christianikis archaiologikis Hetaireias, IV, 16 (1993-94), fig. 3-and the thirteenth-centuryfresco in the church of St. Barbara in Xe-Svaneti, and the thirteenth-centurypainted icon of Archangels from Svaneti (R. Kenia, V. Silogava, Ushguli [Tbilisi, 1984], pl. 35). It should be noted that in Byzantine court ritual as described by Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos in his De ceremoniis the loros was never worn with the chlamys, because the chlamys prevented the hanging of the loros over the arm. 13. See the icon of Christ from the Great Deesis from Mount Sinai (Manafis, gen. ed., Sinai, figs. 42, 50) and the icon of Christ from the Museum of History and Ethnography of Svaneti (V. Beridze et al., The Treasures, pl. p. 116). 14. See these saints at Hosios Loukas, the Hagioi Anargyroi at Kastoria, and St. Savior in Chora (Kariye Camii) in Constantinople: A. Kazhdan and H. Maguire, "HagiographicalTexts as Sources on Art,"DOP, XLV (1991), 8, figs. 5, 12-16. 15. In the medieval art of Georgia St. George, St. Demetrius, and the two SS. Theodore were the most popular warrior saints. See the twelfthcentury painting in Pavnisi, the frescoes of the thirteenth-century Annunciation church in Garedji, the frescoes of 1140 A.D.of Matsxvarishi, and the icon of warrior saints from Svaneti: E. Privalova, Pavnisi (Tbilisi, 1977), fig. 4; Weitzmannet al., Les icones, pl. p. 123. 16. The Hetoimasia of the Seti triptych reveals unique iconographic details-three crosses instead of the traditional instruments of the Passion; an incised image of the church on the sudarium, etc.-that will be discussed in a separate article. 17. In the synodikon of the synaxarion of the Cross Monastery of Jerusalem we find that Inasaridze donated a large amount of money to that monastery.They are mentioned side by side with Georgian kings; according to one thirteenth or fourteenth-centuryliterary source, one member of the Inasaridze family was "Satsolis Mtsignobari"-privileged assistant of the prime minister in medieval Georgia. While he cannot be identified with any of the ktetors of the Seti triptych, this information casts valuable light on the history of this family. See S. Matreveli, Materials on the History of Georgian Colony (Tbilisi, 1962), pls. XIV, XXII (in Georgian); E. Takaishvili, The Order of the Royal Court (Tbilisi, 1920), 8 (in Georgian). 18. See also the frescoes from the end of the twelfth and beginning of the thirteenthcenturies at Kintzvisi, Bertubani, Vardzia, and Betania: T Virsaladze, Frescoes of Ateni (Tbilisi, 1982); R. Mepisashvili and T Virsaladze, Gelati (Tbilisi, 1982), pl. 47-50; 0. Piralishvili, Kintzvisi Murals (Tbilisi, 1979), pls. 1, 17, 75, 76; E. Privalova, Rospis Timotesubani (Tbilisi, 1984), pl. IX, fig. 5; Beridze et al., The Treasures, pls. pp. 67, 81, 82, 88. 19. This composition is placed in the conches of the ninth and tenthcentury churches in Svaneti, Nesguni, and Az, as well as in the churches Erzos Sioni, Otkhta Eklesia, and others: Beridze et al., The Treasures, 65, 69, 70, pl. p. 63; N. Aladashvili, G. Alibegashvili, A. Volskaia, Zhivopisnaia Shkola Svaneti (Tbilisi, 1983), 14, 20; fig. 4; pls. 6, 9. 20. See the lower borders of the Crucifixion icon of the eleventh century, the Crusader icon of the Crucifixion on Mount Sinai, the thirteenthcentury enameled icon of the Virgin from Korzheli, the thirteenthcentury icon of Silikhan, the thirteenth-centuryRussian icons of St. Nicholas, and the Virgin of Belozersk: K. Weitzmann, M. Chatzidakis, S. Radojcic, Icons (New York, 1980), fig. 43; Weitzmannet al.,


Les icones, figs. on pp. 82, 211; Manafis, gen. ed., Sinai, fig. 65; L. Khuskivadze, Medieval Cloisonne Enamels at the Georgian State Museum of Art (Tbilisi, 1984), 108 n. 140; V. Lazarev, Russkaia Ikona (Moscow, 1983), nos. 9, 11. 21. E. Privalova, Rospis, 134. 22. The present condition of the central icon does not permit us to define precisely whether it was the work of a Constantinopolitan or a Georgian painter. The traces of the Georgian inscription on the lower border of the icons and the character of the repouse6 are typical of medieval Georgian metalwork from the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries: see Chubinashvili, Chekannoe Iskusstvo, 618-22. 23. E. Takaishvili, Expedition, 139. 24. Chubinashvili, Chekannoe Iskusstvo, 621. 25. Takaishvili, Expedition, 396; J. Iosebidze and N. Burchuladze, "Iz Kolektsii Istoriko-Etnographicheskogo Muzea Svaneti," Muzey, VII (1977), 229. 26. Takaishvili, Expedition, 140-41; N. Chichinadze, "The Passion Triptych,"Xelovneba, IV (1994) (in Georgian). 27. According to the gospel the cross was carried by Simon of Cyrne, "the father of Alexander and Rufus." Traditionally, he is depicted as middle-aged and bearded. In the Ushguli triptych he is young and beardless. Such iconography is seen in early Christian monuments. See the Passion sarcophagus in Rome, the mosaic in Sant' Apollinare Nuovo, and the wooden door at Santa Sabina, Rome: G. Schiller, Iconography of Christian Art, 2 vols. (Greenwich, Conn., 1972), II, figs. 206, 207; G. Bovini, "Stile e derivazione iconographiche nei riquadri cristologici di Sant' Apollinare Nuovo a Ravenna," Felix

Ravenna, LXVII/1 (1955), 24, fig. 26. Probably the Ushguli painter was inspired by some ancient model. 28. Takaishvili, Expedition, 161. 29. Ibid., 165. 30. Ibid., 210. 31. There is one other example of an icon with the portraitof a Georgian king. This is on Mount Sinai: see Manafis, gen. ed., Sinai, 111-12, 384 n. 23. 32. Takaishvili, Expedition, 298. 33. For triptychs centered on the Hodegetria see also the tenth-century embossed triptychs from Chukuli,Jakhunderi,and Chikareshi,and the fourteenth-centurytriptych from Ubisi: Chubinashvili, Chekannoe Iskusstvo, 623, 624, figs. 45-49. For the Hagiosoritissa see the central image of the famous Xaxuli triptych (note 7 above). 34. The central icon of the "Vernicle" in the well-known Anchiskhati triptych is an encaustic painting of the sixth or seventh century, while the gilding on the borders belongs to the twelfth and thirteenthcenturies, and the wings were created in the fourteenth century. The central enamel icon of the Xaxuli triptych is dated to the tenth century, but its mounting is twelfth-century. In the large Ibis triptych of the fourteenth century the icon of the Virgin probably goes back to the late twelfth century or the beginning of the thirteenth:see Weitzmann et al., Les icones, 118; Beridze et al., The Treasures, 155. 35. To this group may be added two small triptychs with images of the Hodegetria, as yet unpublished, and the triptych with warrior saints from the Museum of History and Ethnography of Svaneti from the late Middle Ages (Takaishvili, Expedition, 285-86).