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Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Green, beautiful, byzantine

Emerald déco earrings
© Francesca Zabarella


When I think about the adjective “byzantine”, green is one of the first colour coming up in my mind, together with porphyry, gold, white, deep yellow and lapis blue. Particularly, I associate it with mosaics, architectonical elements and pavements production. 

Greece, Hosios Loukas, Katholikon. Plan and detail of the opus sectile pavement, 11th cent.
Images © Schultz and Barnsley 1901

The reason of the large use of this colour in byzantine art can be found following two different aesthetical levels. The first concerns the symbolic meaning of green, often connected with heaven and the New Jerusalem; the second one, regarding both architecture and opus sectile pavements, comes from the highest value attributed to green marbles as the so known thessalian and the marvellous serpentine, the precious green porphyry already used in roman antiquity and then widely employed from costantinian architecture during the whole byzantine millennium. 

Thessalian or Verde Antico and Serpentine or green porphiry
Images © Del Bufalo 2010 and Gnoli 1988

So, just to give few extraordinary examples in the use of green during the byzantine age:

-the beautiful mosaics from the rotunda of Hagios Georgios in Thessaloniki, Greece (alternatively attributed from 4th to 6th century), and the ones from the churches of Acheiropoietos (between 5th and 6th century) and Hagios Demetrios (5th to 7th century) in the same city.


-the thessalian green columns from the nave of the 5th century church of St. John of Stoudion, in Istanbul, Turkey, and its later pavement.
 
Turkey, Istanbul, St. John of Stoudion Monastery, thessalian columns, 5th cent.
Photo © Francesca Zabarella 2010

 Turkey, Istanbul, St. John of Stoudion Monastery, opus sectile pavement, post 1059.
Photo © Francesca Zabarella 2010
 

Turkey, Istanbul, Great Palace Mosaics Museum, 
foliate mask and the so called "Okeanos", 6th cent.
Photos © Francesca Zabarella 2010 

-two stripes of thessalian green on the great 6th century proconnesius ground floor of Hagia Sofia in Istanbul, and the presence of the same marble in the west tribune’s pavement. The presence of thessalian and serpentine too in the great 12th century omphalos of the ground floor, not to talk about many other architectonical elements in the greatest byzantine building.
 
Turkey, Istanbul, Hagia Sofia,  thessalian and serpentine in the west tribune 
and in the great omphalos of the nave
Photos © Mathews 1976 and Francesca Zabarella

-they’re not properly “byzantine”, but- two examples from the adriatic city of Ravenna, Italy: the 6th century apsidal mosaics from Sant’Apollinare in Classe and San Vitale.

Italy, Ravenna, St. Apollinare in Classe and St. Vitale church, 6th cent. mosaics
Photos ©  Francesca Zabarella

-two marvellous pavements and the mosaics from the 10th-11th century complex of Hosios Loukas, near Delphi, Greece.
 
Greece, Hosios Loukas complex, pavement of the church of the Panagia (plan and detail)
and a mosaic from the Katholikon
Images ©  Shultz and Barnsley 1901 and Francesca Zabarella 

-the 14th century precious marble revetments from the church of St Saviour of Chora, Istanbul.

 
Turkey, Istanbul, Kariye Camii , pavement, 1316-1321
Photo ©  Francesca Zabarella 

The earrings I show you today are visually inspired both by this so-symbolic colour (one of my favourites) and by another element, the typical early-byzantine impost-capital, open-work decorated with branches, leafs and rosettes. 

Turkey, Istanbul, Archaeological Museums, 
capital with emperess Theodora monogram, 6th cent.
Photos ©  Francesca Zabarella

The design of my creation is conceived starting from the trapezoidal shape of a vegetal-decorated print, then strengthened and plasticized. 



To the larger base I applied nine translucid emerald green glass-paste beads, following the ancient roman and byzantine taste, in jewellery production, for the so-called pendulia, particularly for earrings and necklaces.

Italy, Ravenna, St. Vitale church,  
detail of the panel with empress Theodora, 6th cent. mosaics
Photo ©  Francesca Zabarella 

Turkey, Istanbul, Hagia Sofia,  
detail of the panel with empress Irene (12th cent.)
 ©  Flickr

Enjoy papierdoreille’s creations and become a member of the byzantine court or even a porphyrogenita clicking here!!!


franci


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