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Between Byzantium and Islam: Royal iconography and the Church of the Holy Cross at Aghtamar

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Title: Between Byzantium and Islam: Royal iconography and the Church of the Holy Cross at Aghtamar
Author(s): Jones, Lynn Anne
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Maguire, Henry
Department / Program: Art History
Discipline: Art History
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): History, Middle Eastern Art History History, Medieval
Abstract: This thesis examines the royal iconography of the palatine Church of the Holy Cross, built by Gagik Artsruni, first king of Vaspurakan, on the island of Alt'amar in the years 915-21. The church is decorated on the exterior with over three hundred sculpted figures, and two fresco cycles adorn the interior walls and the drum of the dome.Although the church has been the subject of numerous studies, little attention has been given to the church's palatine function. In marked contrast, other medieval palace churches have been studied almost entirely in terms of their palatine function. When the decorative programs of the Church of the Holy Cross are analyzed in this palatine context, it can be demonstrated that they were designed to convey a unified royal message through the association of particular elements. These associations characterize the nature of Gagik Artsruni's kingship by presenting the rule of Adam in paradise as a paradigm to which Gagik's rule could be likened. The motivation behind this presentation of the king can be connected to the circumstances surrounding Gagik Artsruni's rise to power, and to his claim to kingship based on political legitimacy and Christian piety.While the church is the primary focus of this thesis, the iconography and ideology of the palace, which no longer exists but which is described in a contemporary text, is also examined. Evidence provided by the text suggests that Gagik looked to Islam for the plan and decorative program of his palace complex. The similarities between Islamic royal ideology and iconography and that used in the kingdom of Vaspurakan may, in part, result from the geographical proximity of Baghdad to Lake Van. It is be proposed that Gagik was also motivated by a desire to distinguish his constructions from those of the his rivals, the Bagratids, who ruled the northern Kingdom of Armenia.
Issue Date: 1995
Type: Text
Language: English
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/20747
Rights Information: Copyright 1995 Jones, Lynn Anne
Date Available in IDEALS: 2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog: AAI9624375
OCLC Identifier: (UMI)AAI9624375
 

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