Old Testament

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Armenian illuminated manuscripts

A collection of the best known and most characteristic illuminated manuscripts of the Armenian Church

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Armenian illuminated manuscripts form one of the most beautiful traditions of the Medieval Armenian art. The earliest surviving examples date from the 5th century, following the invention of the Armenian alphabet by Masrop Mashtots Մեսրոպ Մաշտոց (362-440). Very few fragments dated from the 5th-7th centuries have been survived. The oldest preserved in its entirety dates from the 9th century. 13th-14th centuries form the golden age of the Armenian calligraphy. Among the greatest Armenian miniaturists is Toros Roslin Թորոս Ռոսլին (1210-1270), who lived and worked in the Armenian kingdom of CIlicia.
Armenian Illuminated manuscripts are remarkable for their festive designs based on the Armenian  religious life and culture. lluminated manuscripts mostly recount the Holy Bible, in particular the Holy Gospels, as well as many aspects of the religious life and teachings of the Armenian Church. Most of the manuscripts were written and illustrated by monks. Armenian monasteries have been for centuries the centres of religious art and literature. Most of those manuscripts are exquisitely elaborated, covered in gilt and brilliant colors. It was a common belief that the beauty of the illustration could refresh the human mind and spirit.
Of the 31,000 Armenian manuscripts currently listed around the world, about 10,000 of them are ornamented, with 5,000 – 7,000 of them containing miniatures. Most of these manuscripts are preserved in the Matenadaran Institute of Yerevan (more than ten thousand manuscripts and fragments of manuscripts).

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»   The Genesis


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1-Malnazar-The_Creation_of_the_World

The Creation of the world, Malnazar Gospels, 1637, Paul Getty museum

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1-22-ghazar baberdts-genesis

The Genesis, by Ghazar Baberdtsi, 1619, ms351 Matenadaran collection

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1-walters547-adam-eve

Adam and Eve, 1678, Constantinople, by priest Yakob Pēligratci, commissioned by Clav, son of Nawasard, as dedication to his sons, Astuacatur and Sahak, W.547 Walters collection

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»   Books of the Old Testament


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M2374G_8_SacrificeAbraham

The Sacrifice of Abraham, 10th century, by Hovaness, Noravank, Matenadaran collection

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Toros Roslin Red Sea passage

The Red Sea Passage, 1265 Bible, ms2027 Jerusalem Armenian Patriarchate

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J2027G_Jonah

Jonah cast into the sea and seated under the gourd while inhabitants of Nineveh approach him, 1265 Bible, ms2027 Jerusalem Armenian Patriarchate

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J2027G_Hebrews_Furnace

Three young men in Fiery Furnace (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego), 1265 Bible, ms2027 Jerusalem Armenian Patriarchate

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1-malnazar-david-in-prayer-2.jpg

David the prophet praying, Malnazar Gospels, 1637, Paul Getty museum

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1-malnazar_-_hannah_before_eli_the_high_priest-1.jpg

1 Samuel 1:13 : Hannah before Eli the high priest, Malnazar Gospels, 1637, Paul Getty museum

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»   The Ancestors of Christ


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1-toros-roslin-christ-ancestors-1.jpg

The Ancestors of Christ, by Toros Roslin, 1262, W.539 Walters collection

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1-tatevatsi-christ-ancestors-1.jpg

The Ancestors of Christ, by Grigor Tatevatsi, 1297, monastery of Tatev, ms7482 Matenadaran collection

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