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were repeated in literature and the arts. Connected with this are also sayings attributed to old sages and prophet- resses who allegedly forecast the coming of the Messiah. The well-educated Thessalonian painter astrapas in whose city the young learned of the works of the ancient phi- losophers, portrayed on the northern arch, similar to the nearby prophets, Plato, Plutarch, the ethiopean prophet- ess Sibylla and others. all these figures reasserted the fa- vorite idea of the harmony between the Old and New Tes- taments, the conviction that all great personalities and events in Christian history were anticipated by events which preceded them. To these are added paintings of jacob’s struggle with the angel and jacob’s Dream in a special segment under the Tree of jesse. a rare illustra- tion of the first sticheron from the second canon of john of Damascus written to the glory of the Dormition of the Mother of God is also represented here.
Like others the Prizren bishopric itself reminded its believers, in the lowest zone of its cathedral of its own past and role within the Serbian Church. Six local arch- priests are shown on the northern side of the western wall, and also on the south where we see St. Sava’s successors to the archbishop’s throne from arsenije to jevstatije ii. The valuable figures of the local bishops preserved not only name, though most of them are unknown, but also in facial features which may also have been drawn in the earlier church. The Serbian church dignitaries were con- sistently portrayed in their traditional Orthodox veste- ments with their white sticharion with epitrachelion, polys- tavrion and omophorion From those times on, archbish- ops were also shown in other, more colorful ceremonial garb which the Serbian Church adopted from Byzantium.
The portraits of King Milutin and other members of the Nemanjić dynasty convey a sense of the opulent cloth- ing that prevailed locally at that time. These portraits cov- er the surface of the inner narthex. even earlier, especially in the final decades of the 13th century, the Raška rulers looked to dress and life-style in the Constantinople impe- rial court. in this sense, it is sufficient to see the portraits of Kings Dragutin (1276–1282) and Milutin (1282–1321) in a slightly earlier founders’ composition in the cathedral of Saint achilleius in the town of arilje (1296) to confirm the impression of a consistent emulation of the clothing worn by Byzantine emperors. This inclination is also confirmed in an interesting account written by one of the most prom- inent personages in Constantinople, writer Theodore Metochites. as court chancellor and confidant of an- dronikos ii, Metochites travelled to Serbia several times in an attempt to settle disputes arising from Serbian con- quests in the northern regions of the empire. During the negotiations he conducted with the Serbian king they fi- nally agreed that Milutin would wed Simonis, the Byzan- tine emperor’s young daughter, a member of the house of Palaeologos. This marriage was expected to improve relations between Serbia and Byzantium. a frequently cit-
The Cathedral of the Mother of God of Ljeviša
ed passage from one of Metochites’ letters to the emperor from Milutin’s palace eloquently describes the King and prevalent Serbian custom:
The King himself was beautifully arrayed in jewels About his body he had numerous jewels of precious stones and pearls, as many as could be worn, and he veritably shimmered with gold ornaments The whole palace shone in silken furnishings and gold ornaments Briefly, every- thing was arranged in Romaic taste and in keeping with the ceremony of the Emperor’s court
The figure of the King-ktitor in the Ljeviša Church of the Holy Mother of God, in the attire known to Meto- chites, corresponded indeed to the formal dress of the Byzantine emperor: Milutin is portrayed against a strong, deep red background, dressed in a dark divetesion with an epimanikia and loros of golden-ocher hue, covered with semi-precious stones and hemmed with a double row of pearls. On his head he is wearing a typical Byzan- tine crown topped by an orphanos and prependulia, from which hung pendants of pearls and other jewels, holding in his hands the insignia of his rule—a scepter and aka- kia The impressive portrait is larger than the others in the narthex and has a lengthy inscription naming him as founder of the church, listing his
ancestors and stressing that he
was the son-in-law of the Byzan-
tine emperor. This portrait is lo-
cated on the eastern wall along-
side the entrance to the naos.
Next to him on the surface stands
another figure, probably Queen
Simonis, while on the right side
believers used to be able to see
depictions of the ruler’s father
King Uroš and his mother Queen
Helen, a French princess, who was
still living at the time (1314). Both
these portraits are now no longer
visible. However, the portraits of the two kings, the found- er and his father, composed an ideological entity with the clear message that their power was derived from the Lord himself. Divine will is also reflected in the three--quarter length portrait of Christ above the entrance with his arms extended toward them in a sign of blessing. The depic- tion also suggests the succession of the ruler’s royal dig- nity, but the elder brother or the founder, King Dragutin, is absent from this group since Milutin seized the throne from his brother some thirty years before that. Still, such the choice and disposition of the portraits indicates that the conflict between the brothers had ended by the time the murals were painted, at a point when Milutin was able to assert his full legitimacy to the crown, in all probabil- ity in 1313.
Directly reflecting the current political relations in the land, the narthex portraits also expressed the idea of the
 Detail of the painted dado, west wall of the narthex, Church of the Morher of God of Ljeviša, 1308–1314

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