Emma L. Chookaszian
The art of middle ages is all about dualism. This art is consisted of symbols and elements that have passed a long way of evolution until they became the way we see them in the works of art. The whole dualistic spirit of medieval times is seen in the three headed creatures which can be found in some artworks of the period.
This article contains the study of the images of three-headed creatures in a 13th century manuscript of Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, which is the Lectionary commissioned by King Hetoum 2nd (Yerevan,Matenadaran collection, No. 979). This is one of the most luxurious and mysterious Armenian manuscripts the examination of which is going to take several stages: theological, iconographical and historical. First of all we have gone through the years of art history and have tried to find the origins of three-headed creatures and the meaning of these specific symbols. Taking into consideration that this manuscript is a Lectionary, the next step was to find the connection of the liturgical texts with the images decorating them. Each of these liturgical texts corresponds to one of the Armenian religious feasts, so our duty was to find the explanation and the meaning of those feasts to be able to get the bridges between the three-headed creatures and the title pages decorated with them. Our study was made with the help of the texts of medieval theologians Thomas Aquinas and Otto of Bamberg who have given the complete explanations of significance of the scenes and feasts that we are interested in. The final observations have revealed that three-headed creatures in King Hetoum 2nd’s Lectionary have the sacrament of fertility and the Saint Trinity that are accomplishing the idea of the feasts to which the title pages of the manuscript are dedicated.