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the constitution of the famous Constantinople Monas- tery of the Mother of God evergetis prescribed the chari- table duties of the fraternities. These instructions found a place in the middle of the next century in strict provi- sions decreed by emperor Dušan’s Law Code which stat- ed: “...and in the churches, the indigent are to be fed as the founder decides, but if a metropolitan or bishop or hegoumenosfailstodoso,heistobestrippedofhisrank.” just as the wall near the entrances to the monasteries were inscribed with the charter of the founders confirming their privileges and properties, so in the exonarthex of the Mother of God of Ljeviša there is a record of how much aid was to be distributed to the poor. These words were inscribed on the arched surface of the entrance in fresco technique and were certainly an excerpt from the lost deed granted by King Milutin which is only partly preserved here and which ordained that at all times in summer and in winter, food and drink and salt were to be placed “at the portal.” interestingly, this order contained a statement to the effect that the same amount of food was given to master-builders Nikola and astrapas who “built the church and painted its interior.”
There is no indication of the builders’ origins follow- ing this mention of their names. in the Serbian inscrip- tion the name astrapas given after the name of Nikola may
The Cathedral of the Mother of God of Ljeviša
refer to a man from Greece where architecture of this style was nurtured. it has been noted, however, that astrapas appears in another instance as the name of a master-build- er who, with his brothers Djordje and Dobroslav two de- cades later, is mentioned in a deed given to Dečani mon- astery. Nikola evidently worked for King Milutin but one should not hastily conclude that this refers to one and the same person. Many artisans convened to raise the Kings’s shrine; it is possible that two different men had the same, common, name of Nikola. it is also of interest to note that in Dečani Nikola was not a master-builder but only as- sistant to his brother who held the master’s title. The sig- nificant question, however, is whether a person with ex- perience gained locally in the 13th century—the name of the brother, Dobroslav, reveals Nikola’s Serbian origin— could have been such an excellent connoisseur of utterly different notions and of the special techniques that char- acterized the architecture of the empire’s northern re- gions. The familiar layout of a western ground-plan with a bell-tower above the portal, a colorful façade and a num- ber of other features can be found, for example, in Omor- phokklesia near Kastoria, a definite extant remainder of the practice of epirote workshops.
The title of master-builder astrapas, one of the paint- ers of the Church of the Mother of God of Ljeviša, was,
 Inscription beneath the fresco in the exonarthex left by unknown traveler from the East
in a far off time, perhaps soon after those years when the mighty army of Sultan Mehmed ii el Fatih, the conqueror of Constantinople, subjugated Serbian cities including Prizren, an elusive traveler from the east entered the church of the Theotokos of Ljeviša. Overcome by her beauty, he paused for a moment and inscribed the above verse beneath a fresco in arabic calligraphy script, exercising care not to disturb a single figure of that mysterious, foreign, unexpectedly seen frescography. The foreign poet, which he certainly was, did not try to unravel the complex theological contents of the Ljeviša frescos, nor could he experience the religious excitement of the believers for whom they were intended as he stood before them. His admiration must have been similar to that which contemporary man— himself insufficiently versed in mysterious Christian symbolism—feels as he encounters the melodious colors of these old pictures, the harmonic rhythms of their shapes, the freshness of mighty and suggestive figures, and with the craftily-constructed compositions augmented by convincing and strong humanity.
Moved by the brilliance of the paintings at Ljeviša, the wise easterner of noble spirit, with a fine appreciation for beauty that surpasses time and space, and who seems so close to us even today—much closer than if he had left us him name—rose above the traditions and laws of his land and religion, and excitedly gave sincere recognition to real art.
This recognition was given in the words of an artist, at the beginning of a verse of the greatest Persian lyricist Hafiz, as a greeting to unending joy:
“My eye’s pupil is your nest,
(Honor us by coming in, this is your house).”

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