From the Momik’s manuscript of 1302

Inessa G. Danielyan
Momik is one of the most famous, multitalented masters of Armenian medieval art (architect, sculptor, painter). The miniatures of the manuscript of 1302 (Matenadaran named after Mesrop Mashtots, No. 6792) are considered his best paintings. The article deals with the iconographic and stylistic features of the illustration “The Crucifixion of Christ”.

For depiction of the theme master Momik used the ancient laconic iconographic scheme with images of the Crucified Christ, the Mother of God and the Apostle John, which has been widely known in the Christian world since the 7th-8th centuries. Momik’s miniature depicted symbols and gestures, such as the hands of the Mother of God, covered under maforia, a cross-star on her forehead, the meaning of which has deep, still pre-Christian origin.

The style and iconography of this miniature evokes some associations with Byzantine art of the Palaeologan period, especially with an icon from the early 14th century from Ohrid. This icon also presents a simple iconographic version of the theme and like Momik’s miniature, the Mother of God is filled with sorrow and pain – unable to look at her died son on the cross. There is a certain commonality in the construction of the composition of these two artworks.

Some researchers noted a certain connection between the miniatures of the master Momik and the medieval theater. It is more clearly demonstrated in the scene of the Crucifixion.

The miniature “The Crucifixion of Christ” reveals some technical features of making of the manuscript. Under the erased layer of paint is outlined a sketch of another miniature – the scene of “Baptism of Christ”. These two scenes are presented on the same parchment bifolio, but on the fol. 4a page is depicted “The Baptism of Christ” and the Crucifixion is on the fol. 8a. Thus, the master made sketches before sewing and binding the bifolios, and then however finding the wrong arrangement of the scenes, he “hid” the wrong drawing under a layer of paint.

In conclusion, it might be stated that this miniature, like his other works, is distinguished by its simplicity of forms, but at the same time they have a deep sacred content. The artist Momik conveyed to the viewer all the emotionally sensual notes of the depicted, using the correct selection of colors, facial expressions of the characters and distorted proportions. The chosen iconographic scheme and details of the miniature emphasize its deep theological content.