illustration is one of the brunches of popular applied art. The word
was formed from Latin word "Minium - apricot pigment, red paint,
by the help of which people illustrate handwritten manuscripts. It's
an art of creating small pictures: miniatures. Before the invention
of printing all the books were copied and illustrated by hand.
At the turn of the forth century Christianity was adopted in Armenia
as the country's state religion. Monasteries were set up . They ran
schools which began training clergymen for the newly - founded Christian
church. Teaching in those schools were conducted in Greek and Syriac.
In 406 Mesrop Mashtots invented Armenian alphabet and laid solid foundation
for Armenian bibliography. Together with his students he translated
the Old and New Testaments, treatises on theology and religious service
and numerous historiographer and philosophical writings. The fifth century
witnessed a genuine rise of Armenian Literature other provinces of culture.
Book illustration was one of them. The big part of 25 thousand manuscripts
from different centuries were illuminated.
in the manuscripts preserve traditional presentation, as a rute, i.e.
they are pictured on the initial page , even before the Canon Table
designs thereby making a kind of pictorial prologue of the book. The
topics vary on a wide range: from biblical subjects to scenes of workaday
life, from religious mystics to the Christianized refraction of pagan
pantheism. The illuminators achieved such diversity at times reproducing
Old Testament stories such as "The Creation of the World",
"The Fall of Adam and Eve", "The Sacrifice of Abraham"
and "Abraham Entertaining the Angels", "The meeting of
Eve and Joseph", etc. Sometimes they supplemented with subjects
from local predilections highlighting certain aspects of social- political
intentions: the massacre of the children of Bethlehem, a wide range
of Jesus' miracles, the scene of Pilate's doom and so on. The inclusion
of themes from the Old Testament often harmonized with scenes from the
New Testament in an allegorical- mystical form.
In headlines and margins different floral motives ( animal pictures
and floral elements) are implemented.
Some valuable portraits in Armenian manuscripts testify the development
of portrait painting in Armenia in VIII -XIII centuries. Armenians were
used to paint portraits of the kings, bishops, constructors of churches,
painters, heroes, generals, etc.
Different centers of scripture and miniature ran in different places
and centuries. Ani, Gladzor, Tatev, Nakhijevan, Artsakh, Vaspourakan
are the centers of illuminations of the manuscripts which had its own
From the thirteenth century onward the art of of scripture and miniature
was given a new impetus in Armenia. It is fostered through the mounting
popular aspiration for national self - defense and the preservation
of multi-centennial cultural traditions; the other factor that contributes
to this trend was the progress in the countries economy. The fudal and
political fragmentation of the country hindered the progress of miniature
on a nationwide scale and reduced it to local significance.
Now we can enjoy the works of outstanding illuminators, like Toros Roslin,
Grigor, Sargis Pitsak, Toros Taronetsi, Momik, Hagop Jughayetsi, etc.